Cinema Craft MP Mac Encoder vs other encoders at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Cross-Platform Post Production Solutions > Distribution Center

Distribution Center
PC or Mac, how to take your video to DVD or the Internet.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 18th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 265
Cinema Craft MP Mac Encoder vs other encoders

Hello all,

Thought I'd chime in with a quick review of the Cinema Craft MP encoder now available for the Mac. I am in no way associated with Cinema Craft and I've tried every encoder out there.

So, first of all I've compared Cinema Craft to Compressor's native encoders as well as Squeeze 5.

My first encodes had all other encoders out performing Cinema Craft even when selecting 10 passes (you can select up to 99 passes). HOWEVER, it turns out that this was mostly due to the fact that my DVCPRO HD 720 24P footage didn't look good in the first place (another problem I fixed and will discuss at a later time). Once I brought in ProRes footage then the results were different: It was close but Cinema Craft had the best looking encodes. EXCEPT...

As of right now, CCE MP doesn't like Cineform encoded files (something I've brought to the attention of both Cineform and Omni-Craft. And another issue I noticed that CCE MP did was on one specific shot in my film. To set it up, a truck pulls up and a man gets out and runs down the side of a building as the camera cranes over the truck. In the shot there is a semi truck where the truck has vertical lines going down the whole length of the truck. With the CCE MP encodes there is a strange moire pattern happening as the camera moves. This does not happen with either Compressor's native encoder or Squeeze 5. I tried various encoding options (2:3 pulldown rather than 3:2; top field first (there is no option to select Progressive with CCE MP though it does work with 24p footage), etc. I did send out a request with Omni-Craft to get the optimal settings for a true 24p DVD so hopefully I run the test again and give my results.

Now about breaking down the compressed footage:

In all encodes I had to apply gamma correction of .82 (an Apple FCP gamma problem that has been discussed but applying .82 correction pretty much puts the footage back to where it should be and I have a properly calibrated Matrox MXO box hooked up to a second 23" ACD).

About the encodes:

The CCE MP encodes resolved the jaggies (stair stepping) issues slightly better than Compressor's own encoder as well as Squeeze 5. CCE MP also tries to deal with the gamma issues but I found I still needed to apply gamma correction (I do wish that Apple dealt with this issue and truely made the footage you are editing WYSIWYG as opposed to trying to adjust the gamma. Until I came across this issue I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my encodes all came out darker than what I was seeing. I also found that CCE MP also helped resolve some 'red color blocking' issues that is some have complained about.

I also wish the Cinema-Craft had a better manual. There are a lot of settings you can adjust but it doesn't really go into when you should use them and why you should use them. Again, I requested some info and if I get that back I will share it. I really wish someone would come up with a 'cook book' for best setting when it comes to DVD encoding. I think I finally found a method that works for me. Here it is:

I exported my FCP project (2 hours; DVCPRO HD 720 p 24pN) into ProRes HQ upressed to 1920x1080 24p. I opened up Compressor and added the newly compressed film (I also found the exported the film into a self contained Quicktime movie gave me less errors as opposed to directly exported via Compressor from FCP). I then applied the Compressor Best DVD settings for 120 min movie (average bitrate was 5000 but it really should have been around 4750 in order to properly fit the whole movie on the DVD). Compressor's native encoder automatically knows if the footage is true 24p and applies the proper settings (CCE doesn't do this as far as I can tell). I then applied gamma correction of .82 and processed. The resulting file was nearly identical to the quality of the original footage in both color and sharpness. Enough rambling.

Even though I found CCE to have the better encodes I chose Compressor's native encoder due to Cineform issues as well as the moire pattern only present on the CCE encodes.

I know this was a rather long and probably not a 'proper' review, but I figured I'd share my countless hours of testing with you all.

Todd
Todd Giglio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2008, 06:12 AM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 265
Just a note:

I'm getting help from Omni-Craft (Cinema Craft MP) and am going to show them my results with both the moire effect on the shot I had mentioned as well as the Cineform encodes and will update my findings with you all.

Todd
Todd Giglio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2008, 08:42 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Hamilton Ontario
Posts: 769
Just out of curiosity, what kind of comparible speeds are you getting with CCE vs. Compressor??
Peter Manojlovic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2008, 09:21 AM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 265
I'd say CCE is definitely faster than Compressor. I can run 5 to 7 passes that equal the 2 pass time Compressor has. I can also say that my MacPro (3.2 Octo core with 18gb ram) REALLY makes the difference! I had a dual 2gig proc with 4 gigs of ram prior to this new machine and the difference is huge. The next time I encode the film, I'll take special note on how long it takes to process. My source clip is ProRes HQ 1920x1080 (I'm also going to try Cineform 1920x1080).

Todd
Todd Giglio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 19th, 2008, 11:23 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Hamilton Ontario
Posts: 769
I use CCE for my MPEG 2 encoding.
If the HD version is anything like the SD version, you'll soon realize that getting tight results requires you to get under the hood, and opening up options (like Quantization Matrix's, filter processes and bit allocation tweaking)...

And if it's anything like the SD versions, it's at the mercy of the frameserving APP..Therefore, if there's a colourspace conversion, resize, color correction etc...CCE is only responsible for the encode on the frame that gets served and the APP is reponsible for handing over acceptable footage. ...
Peter Manojlovic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 6th, 2009, 02:38 PM   #6
Tourist
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Woodstock, NY
Posts: 2
Very nice review.

Hello All,

Thank you very much for your review, Todd. Very informative.

I know that this post is nearly a year old, though I felt compelled to post a message here.

We recently picked up CCE MP for a project that we felt could benefit from the Cinemacraft reputation for the DVD release. A 50-minute, documentary piece shot on HDCAM, posted and finished in 1080i60 8-bit Uncompressed 422. The first set of encodes looked good, though, I couldn't quite discern any major differences when comparing the 8-pass MPEG-2 encode versus Compressor's own MPEG-2 encoder using the 2-pass VBR and same bitrate setting. When I zoomed in, I noticed a little better handling of the 'jaggies'/stair-step lines, though, for the time taken for the 8 passes, it did not appear as a big jump over the pre-packaged MPEG-2 Encoder in Compressor.

I'm sure this might be just the fact that I have not had the opportunity to play with all the various settings to tweak and change, so that my settings are set to the proper match for the footage I was sending to it - or my workflow might need to be tweaked, or both. Though, I feel the same as Todd that, the manual is not very detailed about all the settings or give examples as to when one would change/tweak them all, that makes the learning process more about trial/error as to see the results.

From speaking briefly with a rep from Omni-Cinemacraft, I matched the basic settings they recommended, and adapted the following work flow:

First - Exported a video to a Stand-alone Quicktime file matching the sequence settings.

Next, in Compressor, I started a new batch and created a job chain. First link of that chain took my 1080i60 8-Bit Uncompressed HD 422 file and encoded an Anamorphic 16:9 8-bit Uncompressed SD version using "Frame Controls" and choosing all the best settings for this down conversion. Once this first link of the chain finishes, the output video is then used for the 2nd link of the chain using the CCE MP plug-in, 8-pass VBR settings as to create the MPEG-2.

This method has been the operating procedure I've used for a few other projects (using various formats of 1080i60 footage, both DVCProHD and Prores 422; and several variations of DVCProHD 720p60 - both 29.97 and 24p editing timebases) and just tweaking the bit-rate and number of passes. All the results look fine, but are not really blowing the Compressor MPEG-2 encodes out of the water, as described. I have also tried increasing the passes to 15 and 30 passes, though not too much noticeable differences than the 8-pass version. (again, most-likely, just my settings not being fully tweaked as they could be - As both Todd and Peter have mentioned)

During one of my discussions with Omni-Cinemacraft, I learned that they DO have a 'Gamma Correction" feature added to their CCE MP plug-in as to compensate for the "FCP Gamma Lift" issue, though, I will certainly try the Gamma adjustment of 0.82 mentioned by Todd as to see if that also helps. It was just a little unclear is if that value is given in the Compressor "Filters" section for Gamma Correction, or the Gamma Correction settings built into the CCE MP plug-in.

Unfortunately, as previously posted by others, there is not a whole lot of detailed documentation that comes with the encoder, but perhaps this thread might be able to be revitalized and increase discussions about others' experiences. As I am sure it's just a matter of better understanding the software plug-in and the various tweaks associated.

Thank you in advance to others who have read this post, and to any/all postings from this point further in allowing this discussion to continue.

Best Regards,
-James-
James Granell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 6th, 2009, 05:52 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 265
Hi James,

Yeah, it's been a year... Anyway, I still had problems with the Cinecraft encoder and am now using BitVice. Much happier and it plays very nicely with my Cineform codec.

A thing I've learned about the gamma issue: I do not do any gamma adjustments anymore. Yes, the encodes do look darker than they should, but I've found that this is a Mac issue and the dvd will/should look fine on a TV. If, for some reason, you do see a slight darkening, then apply the .82 or .9 BUT... do not trust what you see in DVD studio Pro. The final dvd will not be that dark and hopefully this will be fixed with the OSX update in Sept.

Keep in mind though, that I am using BitVice (which also has a gamma adjustment to use the 2.2 setting so this may account why the DVD's look great and not dark). I've tried many compressors, and BitVice is my choice now.

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a shout. I've pretty much tried/experimented with them all.

Todd
Todd Giglio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 7th, 2009, 09:22 AM   #8
Tourist
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Woodstock, NY
Posts: 2
Hi Todd,

Thanks for your reply posting. Amazing about all the things that can happen in a year. And glad to hear your updates.

Yes, I am familiar with Bitvice as I remember testing it out a while ago, back when we were having problems with the earlier versions of compressor, and it did produce a very nice encode, too. I might have to research it out once again.

Seeing that I have been often labeled as a stickler, I do not believe I will be giving up all hope for Cinemacraft MP, as it has been purchased and beyond the 'return date'.

Funny as it it is, I really haven't noticed the encodes as being too dark, but often it's the other way around. I noticed that Cinemacraft MP has the "1.8/2.2 Gamma correction" option, which I do leave checked and it looks to help keep the levels in check during the encode. During a test with both that option, as well as the "Gamma Correction" filter in compressor set to "0.82", the levels are boosted significantly, especially the blacks.

I agree that the Simulation window in DVDSP is not accurate in showing results. I simply use it to double check my DVD Structure, navigation/linking and scripting that I perform as to make sure the DVD works. Only when I am able to burn a test draft copy, do I get to take it to a couple stand-alone players to double check the video quality and closer to real-world functionality. I have found that the Apple DVD player, also, boosts the gamma in the video - as well as has irregular playback for subtitling and/or closed captioning. So, in our workflow it, too, does not tend to be used for testing other than making sure the disc is readable post burning, and testing DVD@ccess links. (if any)

I'll try to keep testing the Cinemacraft encoder, as we currently do not have projects using the Cineform codec, and will see if I can interface with Cinemacraft support as to pull more info from them to see best methods of tweaking their product. But, in the mean time, it is great to know that Bitvice still lives up to great quality work.

Thank you once again for your posting, Todd. And I will try to contribute my findings as they come in - as the posting implies.

Best Regards,
-James-
James Granell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28th, 2009, 02:34 PM   #9
Tourist
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Westminster, CA
Posts: 2
Cineform and Cinema Craft Encoder MP

Hi James,

I was reading your post and thought I would give my 2 cents about the Cinema Craft MP product. I have been using the product for almost a year now and have found the quality to be excellent. I always keep my workflow Uncompressed 8bit or 10bit all the way to the encoding process. I usually use a VBR5 and a healthy average bitrate around 6700Kb. I have always found the results to be sharper than Compressor.

I have also used Cineform with Cinema Craft MP. I use the Cineform HD 1920x1080 format. I installed the latest Cineform QT Codec on my MAC. Since the content is HD I do have to use Frame controls to resize the picture and have always gotten great results.

Regarding the 1.82/2.2 Gamma shift. I learned that it was really a problem with Apple Quick Time. Cinema Craft did release V30 to help correct their problem.

Anyways, I just wanted to say that Cinema Craft MP has been a great Encoder for me and I have found their Tech Support to be very helpful too.

Thanks, Jonathan
Jonathan Vu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 29th, 2009, 11:32 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Hamilton Ontario
Posts: 769
Time flies

Wow, it's been a year already??

Since i've gone over to a Matrox RT.X2 card, the proprietary codec allow CCE to correctly encode, without crushing the blacks...
And although i can't comment on your Progressive footage, i can definately attest to 1080i to 480i conversions are very tricky..Any issues involving aliasing (and such) is usually due to the fact that resizing interlaced frames is a delicate issue, that the encoder shouldn't be responsible for...I've posted comments about proper downconversions, and there's many posts on the subject.

But a year's gone by, and i haven't noticed any software H.264 encoding engines from CCE for people like me....It usually comes bundled into a high end standalone authouring solution, beyond my budget...
Peter Manojlovic is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Cross-Platform Post Production Solutions > Distribution Center

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:32 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network