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Old September 16th, 2010, 11:51 PM   #1
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Best HDV to DVD settings with CS4? DEEPLY VEXED!

I've done a lot of reading and searching on this forum to try and find the best way to export my HDV movie from Premiere CS4, to AVI, to TMPGEnc, and finally to Encore and have it look great!

I will admit right up front, I switched last year from Premiere Pro 2.0 to CS4. I'm not used to the new media encoder yet.

Let me explain... my current workflow goes like this: I film HDV footage using my Sony FX1 (60i) and capture it using HDVsplit into a Windows 7 computer. In this case I edited a 67 minute long film and I want to export this as an AVI and then import into TMPGEnc to convert it into a nice looking MPEG, which I will then import into Encore for final DVD authoring.

My problem is this: when I export the timeline into an AVI I get a very fuzzy (extremely soft) and crappy looking AVI that has a thick black border ALL THE WAY around the video!?!? This is on all sides of the video - not just the usual black bars on top and bottom. What am I doing wrong???

Here are more specific questions:
1. Is it foolish to export an HDV movie as Microsoft AVI with a DV NTSC codec (this doesn't seem right) and expect it to look like HDV?
2. What settings should I be using if I want my final DVD output to look like (as close to) my HDV source?
3. Should I still be using TMPGEnc these days?
4. Should I get Neoscene? Will that help?
5. Is my workflow problematic?

Sorry for all the questions. I have a deadline coming up and I need to solve this problem.
Any help and information is greatly appreciated! Thanks guys!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 12:13 AM   #2
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I think you're adding way too many steps and needlessly complicating your life and hurting your output to boot. My experience is with CS3 and CS5, but I've had great results simply using Premiere to capture, and when done editing, simply exporting straight to Encore. CS3 had an "Export to Encore" command but now you choose Adobe Dynamic Link > Send to Encore from the File menu. Doing this in CS3 results, for me, in near HD quality standard def DVDs. Haven't used this method yet with CS5 but I'd suspect the results are close.

Rendering as MS DV-AVI is using one of the worst SD codecs out there. I'd avoid that if possible. So the answer to #1 above is yes.

In theory, a Cineform workflow might help but they gave up on CS4 when it was clear Premiere and Cineform products would never work well together, mostly due to CS4 bugs. They're now focused on CS5. For me, everything ran smoother and more crash-free under CS3 without Cineform, but my experience may not be typical. I haven't tried using Neo with CS5 yet as everything is working pretty well natively, I don't need all the extra features Neo provides, and the Cineform acceleration isn't necessary (nor even possible) for what I do (mostly multicam, which Cineform doesn't accelerate -- and the new MPE GPU acceleration in Premiere is a beast).

If you Send to Encore, wait for Encore to open and load your Premiere timeline into the project panel. Right click on your Premiere sequence name in the Encore Project Panel and choose transcode settings. There you can customize to a certain degree, or you can click on "Edit Quality Presets" which will open up a window where you can customize further. You should see a preset that indicates "High Quality." Try choosing that and see what happens. This is all based on CS5 but I'm told CS4 was similar.

Let us know if this helps.
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Last edited by Adam Gold; September 17th, 2010 at 12:43 AM.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 12:56 AM   #3
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Adam,

Alright, so I should simply use Adobe Dynamic Link to export my sequence right into Encore. Is the encoder in Encore CS4 as good as TMPGenc? When using older versions of Encore I recall the encoder was pretty bad as far as final quality went - hence the use of TMPGenc. However, I'll definitely give your suggestion a try!

"Rendering as MS DV-AVI is using one of the worst SD codecs out there. I'd avoid that if possible. So the answer to #1 above is yes."

I thought so! So, what would be the ideal settings if I wanted to create an AVI that retained my original HDV quality? I thought AVIs were the best output format for transcoding in other programs.

Man, I used to have a handle on this stuff. Looks like I haven't kept up with the changes.

Thanks for your help!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 01:10 AM   #4
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CS2 was criticized for having a really bad transcoder so I think using a third party program made sense. Since CS3 things have been much better.

If you used Cineform and transcoded to CFHD-AVI then that would be great. But without it, regular SD AVI is pretty crappy. I think Cineform's is the only HD version of an AVI, but I could be wrong.

I've been playing with the settings a little while writing this, and it's even simpler if the CS4 options are like CS5. You could go to the "Edit Quality Presets" box and double check that MPEG-2 DVD is selected in the box at the top right and choose one of the High Quality presets, then close that box and on the Transcode Settings box, make sure Use Maximum Render Quality is checked. I think that should do it. Next to your sequence name in the Project Panel, under Transcode Settings, it should reflect what you just did. Give it a whirl and let us know.

If you just want to export to an HD file, I think H.264 might be your best bet. There are no HD choices in Premiere for any kind of AVI without Cineform.

Okay, there is a selection for Microsoft Uncompressed AVI but there are no presets and it just feels wrong. You could also choose P2 movie and transcode to a DVCPROHD format, but that seems like a lot of work that might not be necessary and may not help. I always like to start with the simplest possible way and if I'm not happy with the results, move on to the next level of complication.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 01:25 AM   #5
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Thanks again Adam! I'm trying the Premiere to Encore method right now! I'll let you know how it works.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 01:29 AM   #6
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Good luck. I'll check back in the morning.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 12:58 PM   #7
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Oh boy... I woke up this morning to check my encore transcoded project and... it was like 10% done! Ugh.... By the way, is there supposed to be a transcoding status window or something in the progress box? Because all I see is a bar with a yellow indicator without any numbers or a percentage meter. It's just the bar that slooooowwwwlllly turns yellow. And by slowly I mean that after 9 hours only a very tiny fraction of the bar had turned yellow - indicating encoding.

And if that wasn't bad enough... here are some other odd things I noticed.

When I go into the harddrive folder containing the original files I captured with HDVsplit and let the mouse cursor hover over a clip, windows tells me that it is an AVCHD file?! But premiere tells me they are .m2t files. Now I'm wondering if I put my clips into a sequence with the wrong settings.

Also, when I open Encore CS4 three windows pop up. The first tells me that "Adobe Encore is incompatible with this version of Windows (7)". I just tell it to continue. Then as Encore proceeds to load two error windows appear, one after the other. They both say "The program can't start because CFHDDecoder.dll is missing from your computer. Try reinstalling the program to fix the problem." I thought this was simply a problem of Cineforms player not being installed correctly. But everytime I reinstall it the same message appears twice. HOWEVER, Encore loads up all the same.

So, I've got real problems. Lol! Not sure how to proceed. I've got this lovely 67 minute HD movie that looks wonderful in my premeire CS4 timeline but I can't export it out of there without it looking like crud!

...sigh...

Awaiting divine intervention.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 01:11 PM   #8
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Wow, what a mess. With so many issues it's hard to tell if this is due to your system, Adobe, Cineform or your workflow. And on a deadline it's hard to do any real methodical troubleshooting. Have you ever had any luck exporting to DVD, and if so what has changed?

CS4 was supposed to handle memory better than prior versions but with so many bugs it was a nightmare for many.

I've noticed that Windows 7 calls all m2t files "AVCHD", even when they're not. So I wouldn't worry about that. But all these other issues are troubling.

Others will likely have better ideas, but until they chime in, here are some thoughts:

What are your system specs? How much available HDD space do you have? How much RAM?

If this isn't a Cineform project, I'd consider deleting all Cineform apps from your PC, then uninstalling (using Adobe's Clean Script utility to make sure all traces of CS4 are gone -- you may have to run it several times) and reinstalling all your Adobe apps, including all the CS4 updates. Once that's done, I'd create a new project, making sure all the details are precisely correct, and import the old project into it and try the export again.

If that fails, perhaps you could use Adobe Media Encoder to export to something like an H.264 HD file, and use that in a third party DVD burner like Nero.

Finally, you might consider upgrading to CS5, which has performed really well for me and is getting brilliant reviews from most users.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:02 PM   #9
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Thanks Adam.

Here are my computer specs:

OS: Win 7 Pro 32 bit.
Processor: AMD Atholon II X2 245 @ 2.90 Ghz
Memory: 4 gigs of DDR2. (4 slots - 2 available)
Video Card: Radeon HD 4850 (512 MB)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-MA785GM-US2H Micro ATX Motherboard
HardDrives: 2 - 500 gig drives in a Raid array, 550 gigs available. 1 terabyte drive, 680 gigs available.
Monitor: Acer 23" HD LCD.
Optical Drives: LG Super Multi Blue and an LG Super Multi.


I installed the cineform player because when I upgraded to Win 7 I couldnt play my old AVIs that I edited in PP2 with Aspect HD v4.2. Installing the player fixed that.

Uninstalling Premeire CS4, using the Adobe Clean Script Utility, reinstalling and importing my project seems like something I'm going to have to try. Assuming I don't delete or move a single project file, will my original project retain all the cuts, transitions, titles, effects, and audio when I import it into a new project?

If I use AME to create an H.264 HD file will that burn to/play on a standard DVD?

Upgrading to CS5 would be nice, if I had the funds. :-(

Thanks again for your time and all the info!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 02:39 PM   #10
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Cleaning out all your Adobe and Cineform Software shouldn't hurt your project, but I'd back it up to another location to be sure. You'll probably want to delete all your Adobe folders in the process so the Project and all the media files and assets need to be somewhere else. It should import into the new project just fine.

The H.264 file would need to be transcoded/down converted to mpeg-2 DVD to play on a DVD player (or even to fit on a DVD disc). You could just save the project as an mpeg-2 file and that would still need to be authored to a disc (I think in m2v format).

Remember, standard DVD Video is always SD. No HD. You could copy a short m2t file to a standard DVD (under 20 mins or so) and that would play back in HD on some Blu-Ray players and the PS3.

Your system isn't ideal for what you are doing, but it should at least work better than it seems to be. I think.

For your reinstall, you will want to make sure there is absolutely no unnecessary software on your PC or running in the BG, especially virus checkers, and of course when you are working you should be physically disconnected from the Internet. All disks should be thoroughly cleaned up and defragged before every project that matters. And make sure your source and destination disks are different, and both should be different from your OS/Programs disk.
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Old September 17th, 2010, 03:45 PM   #11
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Thanks again Adam! I'm trying a straight to MPEG-2 export from Premiere as we speak. What little encore transcoded looked pretty good, with the exception of some pixelation during motion.

After this attmept (if it fails) I'm going to uninstall CS4, Cineform, defrag my discs and try again in a new project. I'll let you know how it turns out!
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Old September 17th, 2010, 09:02 PM   #12
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I think you've made a mistake within the Encore project, and inadvertently setup for a BluRay output.
There's no other way to explain this...

Before anybody tells you what to do, and what buttons to press, you need to understand the problems with downconverting HDV 60i...It can't be done properly without a proper deinterlacing method..
There's many ways to do it...VirtualDub and AVISynth, are the best freeware options out there..

I'm not sure, but allow Cineform to try the deinterlacing upon capture, or when converting to Cineform, try their deinterlacer.
Otherwise, Premiere's deinterlacer bites the bullet...

That being said, simply go to the proper output module in AME and output for High Quality DVD Widescreen.
Go to the top left tab, and click "Output"..This will give you a visual on the way it should look...

If this is too much to swallow, go to the secret flyout menu in AME, and click this button....
It should do a better job of resizing...But do a sample first..

Good luck!!!

BTW, i shoot HDV 30P..It provides great downconverting, and AME scales it down correctly.
Plus it's perfect for web viewing...
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Old September 17th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #13
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it's a 67 min movie and it will take a few days according to your specs. Adobe renders your timeline to M2V format with sound as a WAV (I think). Then the project opens in Encore with the rendered M2V and Wav sound. M2V is directly equivalent to the MPEG-2 DVD format so once you pop in your DVD and burn, it won't take long for Encore to burn you a pristine disk.

But the first render (timeline to M2V) will take time because the Mpeg streams from HDV are not the same as that of DVD. In your case it's not even in the same frame rate and resolution. Just let the thing render and go to sleep. Patience is all I can advise for now...
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Old September 18th, 2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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If one is planning on making a dvd from interlaced hdv with just Premiere.
Leave everything interlaced.
Set AME to mpeg-2 dvd upper 2.8/7/9 VBR2.
Just set it to max render quality and do not use Preview Files.
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Old September 18th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #15
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Yes, if DVD is your primary destination, I can't imagine why anyone would shoot 30p or deinterlace. DVD doesn't support 30p.
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