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First steps #4: find your sources
#1
Lightbulb 
Where to find your sources? Let's discover it!

Physical places

You could find physical formats - discs and tapes - in many places; once there was a lot of specialized video stores, but nowadays they are not so common, because you can find DVD, BD and CDDA discs virtually everywhere... HD-DVD is dead as format, so if you are lucky you could find some titles keeping dust in a dark corner of a little shop! SACD, DVD-Audio and HDCD are niche formats and you could find in few selected places. UHD-BD is still a niche format, but it's quite easy to find them online.

LD discs and VHS tapes are long way discontinued, so it's more difficult, but not impossible, to find them... thrift stores, second hand shops, sometimes there are "hidden" LDs between LPs on record stores; few specialized stores could still have some LD discs or VHS tapes laying around, though! Compact Cassettes are almost forgotten, as more recent formats like DCC and MiniDiscs; S-VHS pre-recorded tapes were released in so small numbers that maybe none are still around, and DAT pre-recoded tapes were not available, I think.

D-Theater tapes, CED discs: I think they are virtually impossible to find, but if you are VERY lucky, they could pop sometimes somewhere in unexpected places; MUSE laserdiscs and VHD are virtually non-existent outside Japan. Vynil records, at the contrary, are living a revival, and new editions are quite easy to find; out-of-print could be usually find in record stores, used and sometimes new.

Internet

Everything could be found on the net; all the physical formats could be bought in online stores, or from private customers through several places, directly or through selling ads. Indeed, today is easyier to find rare and obscure titles online than offline.

Then, the only way to find digital streaming sources is the web; the more common places are the big sites, where you could buy or rent digital material for a small price for each item, or for a weekly, monthly or annual subscription at a reduced fee.

Other ways

But what if, for a reason or another, it is not possible to acquire the needed source? What if the seller can't/won't send the physical media to your country, or you can't download the file because your country is not served from that website?

Then, you should acquire the source in other way. You can ask someone who lives in the seller's same country to buy the physical disc or tape, and then send it to you, or ask the person to rip/capture it and upload the files somewhere on the net; this is also the only option for a streaming media, until you don't want it to be recorded on a physical media and sent to you via mail...

Not everyone knows someone outside own country, so what is the last option? Well, you have to find it by yourself online - google is your friend! Let's face it, there are a lot of pirated files around and, even if we do NOT endorse piracy in every way, we should know it exists... then, it is possible to search for a rip or capture of your needed source, but this should be the last resource, and should be used ONLY for your project and not shared!!! And remember, some sources could NOT be bought, like HDTV rips...

File formats, types and so on

We'll talk about file quality in a next article, for the moment let's say that for video, the best option is a 1:1 copy, to preserve the original quality and avoid unwanted re-encoding of a compressed material; audio too should be 1:1 copy but you could find it also inside files with an high compressed video; subtitles are usually text files. 

Video and audio tracks could be uncompressed, compressed with a lossless codec - something like a ZIPped file - or compressed with lossy codec. A codec is a COmpression/DECompression program that uses a given compression standard. Video is almost always compressed using lossy codecs, because uncompressed video size is huge, while compressed video is relatively small and if the bitrate is adequate the quality is very near to the original. Uncompressed audio file size is a fraction of its video counterpart, so it's easy to find lossless compressed audio files, at half the size of uncompressed ones but with the same quality. Subtitles are usually text files and hence they do not need particular compression apart zip or rar.

What kind of file type exists? Many, too many, where very few are needed; the audio/video files are actually a set of at least one video and one audio track; sometimes there are more than one video track - like different angles, and often more than one audio track - different language, commentary track - and sometimes subtitles. They are muxed together - single discrete tracks that normally are on different files are joined in a single file, called container; is it possible of course to do the contrary; demux the tracks into single files, or even remux the tracks, that means take the tracks - even picking up the desired ones and discard the others - from the container, and put them into another container, also of different kind; there are many containers, like AVI, MKV, M2TS - some are compatible with hardware players, while the vast majority are compatible with almost all software players.

Where to find exactly on the net? Again, do not ask here, as nobody will tell you that... what you should know is the fact that files are distributed in several ways, so all you need to know is which are these ones...

Direct download: you follow the link on a web page, a pdf document, a mail or personal message, and you got the file; just save it, and it will be downloaded into your computer; usually those files are stored on specialized web sites, called file lockers.

FTP: almost the same of direct download, but these files are usually stored directly on web servers, or personal computers always connected to internet; they are more difficult to find, because usually those files are not linked to web pages.

Usenet: you need a NZB, small file that contains all the information needed to retrieve the real file, and a software to interpret it; you need also an usenet subscription to have access to usenet.

Torrent: you need a TORRENT, small file that contains all the information needed to retrieve the real file (there are similar files called MAGNET that usually works with the same software), and a software, called client, to read it; torrent files could be found on open trackers, open to anyone, or private trackers, where you usually need an invite to have access to them.

Peer-to-peer: once the most used, today useful to find obscure and long forgotten files; you need a P2P software that will connect to a certain network; each P2P software use one or more networks, so you should try different softwares to find a file that could be present in a network and not into another.

Warning: before download and open every file, be sure it is a real audio/video file... this is the most used way to spread computer viruses, so if you are downloading an EXE file, this is for sure a virus or worst...

Disclaimer: this is just an informative article about file searching; it does not promote piracy, because it could be an illegal practice in many countries around the world.

In the next article, we will understand how to judge the quality of a source, weighing several factors.
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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