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Old February 14th, 2007, 05:26 PM   #1
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Seeking Wisdom: HUGE Final Encoding


I'm new to these Forums, but after looking around the Net, this seemed like the best place to seek some advice.

I've just completed a video project (a movie) that's taken me a year and a half to make. It's time to take it from Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0 and put it onto DVD. Alas, this has turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought.

The project is exactly 90 minutes long. It consists of several dozen short films (each initially edited with Adobe Premiere Elements) which I was finally able to string together with Premiere Pro 2.0. The shorts range in complexity from a collection of simple title cards to multi-layered effects-heavy keyframed green screen shots.

I bring this up because putting them all on a single timeline, even with Premiere Pro 2.0, pretty much maxed out my poor, so-three-year's-ago computer. [For the record, or the curious, it's a Dell Dimension 2400, Pentium 4, 2.53GHz, 1GB RAM (maxed), with a 40GB hard drive. I added a NEC 16X DVD burner and, of course, a Seagate USB 2.0 160GB external hard drive where all the movie files are held - and, boy, was I proud of myself!).

Anyway, the timeline and my computer were so maxed out that I couldn't even add DVD menus (which are definitely necessary) because my system would just crash. Therefore, I used the "Export - Movie" feature in PPro2.0 to break the timeline up into 6 parts, exporting each part as a "Microsoft DV AVI", which if I understand correctly, gives me the best compromise between file size and compression.

As it was, the 6 files still turned out to be about 3-4GB apiece, so all together the movie added up to a whopping 20-something GB's!

The good news was, these were easy to sting together on the PPro timeline this way, and I was able to add (nifty) DVD menus.

The bad news was, it was time to encode.

The default setting (4:3, CBR, 7Mbps) was No Go, producing a file size "greater than 4.7GB".

Thus, I was forced to experiment. It turns out my best option (or so I believe) was to encode with the following settings: 4:3, VBR, 2 pass, 4Mbps, Video Quality = 5.0 (the highest setting).

[By the way, I've done all the sound as "PCM" which, if I understand correctly, is an uncompressed, lossless method.]

And, yes, after 4+ hours of encoding, I ended up with a DVD.

[By the way, I don't know if this matters, though I don't think so: I encode to a folder and then burn using Nero Express, which came with the burner.]

This DVD is pretty decent. In fact, I could (and may have to) accept it, except that one - just one! - of the many shorts in the movie is noticably "pixilated" in portions (during a "red alert" sequence where I repeatedly bleed out all color but red to simulate a flashing warning light).

The last couple days have been spent trying - unsuccessfully - to correct this problem.

First, I tried exporting this one short alone as an "Uncompressed AVI", then building it back into the timeline. This made no difference.

Next, I tried re-encoding the entire movie as a Dual Layer DVD, i.e., at a higher bit rate: 4:3, VBR, 2 pass, 7Mbps (the highest setting, I believe, available in the Adobe Media Encoder).

This produced the desired result, but only (obviously) on a Dual Layer DVD. Everything looks great, but I'm pretty sure this isn't the ideal way to distribute a DVD (more on this below) because of cost, player compatibility, and a "stutter" that takes place right in the middle of one of the shorts as the DVD transitions from one layer to another.

So I went back to the encoding drawing board.

This time, after reading a few more posts here, I tried taking my Dual Layer Folder (VOB files, etc.) and using "DVD Shrink" to fit it all onto a Single Layer DVD. It turned out the Dual Layer file size was 5.45GB.

So close!

In fact, using DVD Shrink, I 'only' had to compress the video to 75% to get the whole thing to fit into a 4.35GB file size, which I was then able to burn onto a Single Layer DVD. However, to my surprise:

It looked exactly the same as my initial encoding from PPro2.0 (at VBR, 2 pass, 4Mbps). In other words, the "red alert" sequence was just as pixilated.

This surprised me because the file size of the DVD Shrink disc (4.35GB) is significantly bigger than the file size of the disc I made from the original PPro2.0 encoding (3.67GB).

However, on further inspection, I noticed that DVD Shrink seemed to be "analzying" the movie at 4Mbps when set to 75% compression, the same bit rate as my original PPro2.0 run, so maybe the result wasn't too surprising.

Anyway, I'm officially running out of ideas.

I've been looking into "per DVD" costs at "Bulk DVD's" cost $0.69/disc for Single Layer, $0.89/disc for "DVD-9", which is the same as Dual Layer. So maybe the price difference isn't too bad after all.

However, I wanted to make sure I had tried everything I could to get the project onto a Single Layer DVD first.

God, I've written all this and I haven't really asked any question yet. Here it is at last:

Is there anything else I can try to fit a 5.45GB project onto a Single Layer (4.7GB) DVD?

I have a feeling the answer may be "not really, dude". So maybe what I'm really looking for is the experts to tell me to relax and either go with my Single Layer option (with one "pixiliated" sequence in one short) or my Dual Layer option (with one "stutter" as the DVD switches layers). And along those lines, a followup question:

Is there any reason I may not be considering to select Single Layer over Dual Layer? Truthfully, I'm a little leery of Dual Layer, since it seems to be so little used compared to Single Layer.

Wow, HUGELY long post - especially for a 1st timer! If you've read this far, I thank you for that alone. And if you can offer any advice...

...I'll thank you again.

Steven Donovan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2007, 08:31 PM   #2
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If you have Adobe's DVD authoring application Encore, you'll have a lot more flexibility with your problem sequence, because you could transcode it alone at a higher bitrate and everything else at a lower one.

My workflow is to always output sequences to DV AVI out of PPro and let Encore handle the bit budgeting. If you don't have Encore, I'm sure one of the cheaper authoring packages offers similar features.

In the future, as I'm sure you found out, you'll want to work with multiple sequences. Even when you had a timeline too long, you could have dropped that long timeline into new sequences and cut it from there without all of the rendering.

No worries... it takes time to figure all of this stuff out!

Hope this helps,
Brian Brown
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Old February 15th, 2007, 10:46 AM   #3
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Thanks, Brian.

A DVD authoring program that would allow me to encode the "red alert" short at a higher bit rate sounds like the ideal solution.

Update: I've now downloaded the "trial" version of Adobe Encore 2.0 and, upon preliminary inspection, it looks like it might just be the "magic bullet" I was looking for.

And free, too!

Thanks again for the tip!


Last edited by Steven Donovan; February 15th, 2007 at 12:05 PM.
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Old February 15th, 2007, 03:49 PM   #4
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Cool! I suspect once you use it, you'll want to buy it for your next project. The latest version can do some pretty sophisticated things like chapter lists and even slideshows. You can buy a more basic app for maybe $99. Take a look at this link for a range of authoring apps:

Good luck with your project!

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Old February 16th, 2007, 01:53 AM   #5
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If it cannot fit everything onto a DVD5 without compressing your short too noticably, you can compress the short in question at a higher bitrate than everything else. With the rest of your movie at 4Mbps and that one clip at 7Mbps, that should solve your problem and still fit.
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Old February 16th, 2007, 11:57 AM   #6
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You also might want to consider transcoding your audio to AC3. It will sound as good as the PCM audio, but it will free up a good few hundred MB of space on your DVD that can be used to increase the quality of the compressed video.
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Old February 27th, 2007, 06:49 AM   #7
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The bitrate determines the quality and the size. The higher the better but also bigger.
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