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I filmed Video during Christmas with my Canon 5D mark II. My input source is H.264/MPEG-4 (Base Profile @ L5) from my camera. I have edited the movie and just want to save it to the hard drive for long term storage.

When choosing the profile for encoding for storage, should I use the same H.264/MPEG-4 (Base Profile @ L5) profile to keep the quality, or lower to save space.

How does the source encoding reflect the settings used to export?

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It is unclear what you are asking. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to shrink the file size for long term storage? Did you edit it and are trying to make a final output? Are you asking if there is a reason to use a different profile or higher level even though the source was lower? –  AJ Henderson Jan 16 at 14:41
    
I comes from a photo background. If have small size compress gif or very hard compressed jpg (the source) then I open it in photoshop make some changes and I know that it limits what I can do with the enlarging (interpolate to bigger size), change colorspace to larger one (interpolate to bigger colorspace). To some extent this must be true for video also change the size from smaller format as 576i to 1080p will give some type of interpolate to bigger size. But how does this reflect in the input media is H.264/MPEG-4 with a give bitrate selecting output. –  user1345824 Jan 17 at 9:54
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The quality you use to export the video for long term storage largely depends on what you will be doing with the footage at a later date.

If you will be mostly using it for personal viewing, a lower quality may be sufficient. If you will be editing the footage and using it in another video, you will want to encode it a higher quality.

The only scenario I can think of for encoding to a higher quality than the original video is if you were including the clip for use with other videos of higher quality in a project that will ultimately be encoded with the higher quality.

To sum up:

You should encode the video in the highest quality you can without exceeding the original and without going over your space requirements. Since large hard drives are relatively inexpensive these days, this will likely mean that you encode to the original quality of the video.

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For most types of compression, every generation of compression will lose quality. Any quality you lose can never be recovered in future generations, however encoding at higher quality will reduce the amount of loss. If you absolutely need to preserve the most detail you can (even out of a low quality video), encoding at a low level of compression (bigger file than you started with) will help avoid losing as much detail.

This is why it is very important to keep video as high quality as possible until you are doing a final output that will be consumed by a viewer. This is also why it is important to try to minimize the number of times that video needs to be re-encoded when working with it.

There are some types of compression that are very specially designed to not have any additional loss when re-encoded provided that nothing has changed about the video, but they are not used very often and are pretty specialized. (Generally for images rather than video as well.)

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