Transferring Video

Physical Transport

Video files can be physically transported on portable storage devices, such as SD cards or external hard drives. Storage devices, especially portable storage devices, are unreliable and particularly vulnerable in transport. You should always make at least one other copy of video and documentation that is going to be physically transported on another device.

SD Cards

A typical SD Card

A typical SD Card

SD cards are particularly fragile and easily damaged. Only take an SD card out of a camera when you are in a clean environment. If transporting an SD card, always carry in a protective case.

Portable Hard Drives / Flash Drives

An external, or portable, hard drive.

An external, or portable, hard drive.

Hard drives and USB flash drives are formatted according to a particular file system, such as NTFS, HFS Plus, or FAT32. There are a few constraints to be aware of when using these devices to transfer video files between people in your network, especially if you have a mixed environment (i.e. Windows and Mac).

  • NTFS is a Windows file system, and NTFS-formatted drives are normally read-only on Macs. If you want to be able to write to an NTFS drive using a Mac, you need extra software/drivers (NTFS-3G is a free one, but we have not tested it). Some hard drives (e.g. SeaGate GoFlex) include the software.
  • HFS and HFS Plus are Mac OS file systems, and HFS-formated drives cannot normally be read or written to on Windows computers. There are some commercial softwares available that allow you to read a HFS-formatted drive on Windows, but none that allow you to write.
  • FAT32 is an older Windows file system that is used on most USB flash drives. FAT-formatted drives have the advantage of being readable and writable by both Macs and Windows computers. However, the maximum file size on a FAT-formatted drive is 4 GB, which may be too small for some video files.
  • You can reformat a drive, but it will erase all the data on the disk.

  • When offloading videos from your camera to your computer, make sure you transfer the files completely and without alteration.
  • Always make sure to include your metadata and documentation with your video—or make sure they can be matched together after transfer.
  • If using the Internet to transfer files, choose a file sharing service that meets your needs for permanence, data integrity, security, chain of custody, documentation, accessibility, efficiency, and cost.
  • Use hashes to check that your files have transferred intact, and to show that your files have not been altered over time.
  • If physically transporting drives, make sure to have another copy and be aware of cross-platform constraints.
  • Organize your videos in “information packages,” or folders with your video and metadata, for transfer.
The Archiving Workflow

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