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Old December 9th, 2009, 12:52 AM   #1
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CS4 AM h.264: Best quality settings: Advice needed.

Hi,

I am going to have a 10 minute 24p HDV edit, and I wanted to export a nice render in h.264 format to give to a few folks... The only requirement is that the render fits on a DVD.

Just curious if anyone has suggestions... I mostly curious about how to best determine the bitrate, keyframes, profile and level settings.

In CS4 AM, there is preset for 1440x1080p 23.976 that looks pretty good... The bitrate is set to vbr 15 - 20... Seems like this default setting would suffice.

Anyone feel like sharing their experience?

Also, if I want the best quality, should I output as h.264 blu-ray? Is this h.264 format very portable?

My target audience is going to be people who will be watching the video off of the dvd (not an authored dvd though.)

Any advice would be appreciated.

Have a great night.

Cheers,
Micky
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Old December 9th, 2009, 01:35 AM   #2
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I'm coming from a different NLE environment, but, if you're distributing to a few friends on a variety of PCs/Macs, I highly recommend going to a square pixel format (Pixel aspect ratio =1.0) for greatest compatibility and reliability. This assures that your wide screen footage will display properly.

Usually, downscaling to 720p is a sweet spot, but, there's usually nothing wrong with upscaling to 1920x1080p either. Playback straight from DVD might well be better (no dropped frames) from 720p.
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Old December 9th, 2009, 03:30 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
I'm coming from a different NLE environment, but, if you're distributing to a few friends on a variety of PCs/Macs, I highly recommend going to a square pixel format (Pixel aspect ratio =1.0) for greatest compatibility and reliability. This assures that your wide screen footage will display properly.
Great tip! Thanks. I will be sure to pick that setting AME. :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seth Bloombaum View Post
Usually, downscaling to 720p is a sweet spot, but, there's usually nothing wrong with upscaling to 1920x1080p either. Playback straight from DVD might well be better (no dropped frames) from 720p.
Very cool!

I will do just that. 720p is a good size for the video I am working with (should help hide a bit of the unwanted noise.)

Kinda off-topic, but I have been loving 854x480 size for web video... Makes me wonder if I should downscale a tad, and go with 720p for web?

Anyway, thanks for tips!

Oh, should I do VBR or CBR for playing off of DVD?

If CBR, do I shoot for the high-end of the bitrate spectrum (20mbps) or shoot for something lower (15mbps)?

Thanks a billion!
Cheers,
Micky

(Nice to meet another Oregonian on the forums btw! :)
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Old December 9th, 2009, 12:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Hulse View Post
...Oh, should I do VBR or CBR for playing off of DVD?

If CBR, do I shoot for the high-end of the bitrate spectrum (20mbps) or shoot for something lower (15mbps)?...
VBR or CBR - For most content, VBR will provide better results when available bandwidth is constricted. This is the lesson that online streaming provides, for DVD playback "datarate" is a better word than "bandwidth".

"IS the datarate constricted?" is kind of a complicated question. Of course it is; the better question is "Can I find the quality I want within the available datarate so that users can play back from DVD without dropping frames?"

This table on wikipedia shows the datarates for the various DVD modes (1x, 2x, etc.)(Ignore the recording time column...)

So, the DVD drive in my PC laptop is an 8x, I should get 10.56MB/s, or, about 84Mb/s. It would seem that my drive would be happy with your 15 or 20Mb/s stream... however, in practice, when I get QT-DV files on data dvd they'll only play back at about 2-4fps, and these are a 25Mbps CBR stream.

This may have something to do with the performance of QT on the PC, or maybe not.

Were I in your shoes, I'd figure out some short tests! If you do see some performance issues (dropped frames, reduced framerates), the 720p should give you better quality for a bitrate than 1080p.

BTW, 720p is actually 1280x720, so, your 854x480 is smaller.

(I smell roses... Go Ducks!)
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Old December 9th, 2009, 11:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Hulse View Post
Hi,

I am going to have a 10 minute 24p HDV edit, and I wanted to export a nice render in h.264 format to give to a few folks... The only requirement is that the render fits on a DVD.

Just curious if anyone has suggestions... I mostly curious about how to best determine the bitrate, keyframes, profile and level settings.

In CS4 AM, there is preset for 1440x1080p 23.976 that looks pretty good... The bitrate is set to vbr 15 - 20... Seems like this default setting would suffice.

Anyone feel like sharing their experience?

Also, if I want the best quality, should I output as h.264 blu-ray? Is this h.264 format very portable?

My target audience is going to be people who will be watching the video off of the dvd (not an authored dvd though.)

Any advice would be appreciated.

Have a great night.

Cheers,
Micky
It depends on what equipment that the people whom you're giving the videos to support. There is a good chance that many of those people have DVD players which cannot play back high-definition content at all--only standard-def. To those people, if your video content is really in 1440x1080p24, then it's fairly easy though time-consuming to downconvert that to 720x480p24 (with the selected maximum bitrate not to exceed 8 Mbps), which then must be run through a program which adds the proper 2-3 (or 3-2, depending on whatever the software company labels it) pulldown for compatibility with ordinary standard-def DVD players. Or, if your folks can really play HD content burnt onto disc, then you can convert your HDV to AVC using the Adobe program you have. Just make sure that the selected average video bitrate does not exceed 18 Mbps if this content is to be burnt onto regular "red-laser" DVD. Therefore, the default "VBR 15-20 Mbps" setting should do you well unless you are also using elaborate multichannel high-bitrate audio in your movie (remember, high audio bitrates can cause the total peak bitrate to exceed the maximum of 28 Mbps that's allowed for AVCHD DVD). At an average of 18 Mbps, 10 minutes of 1440x1080 AVC-encoded video should very easily fit a single-layer 4.7GB DVD with room to spare.

And remember, 1440x1080p 23.976 in AVC (or VC-1) form is officially part of the Blu-Ray specs, so there's no need to downsize or upsize that once you've re-encoded your original MPEG-2 encoded HDV to AVC.
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Old December 10th, 2009, 01:00 PM   #6
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Seth, Randall...

THANKS!

I really appreciate all the great information! :)

Looks like I should do some testing (and more research.) I am sure I will be back with more questions.

Again, many many thanks for the pro advice and help.

Have an excellent day!

Oh, and we definitely smell the roses around here. ;)

Cheers,
Micky
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Old December 11th, 2009, 09:13 PM   #7
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With only 10 minutes of 24p material, you have enough room on a DVD to create a mixed format disk.

You can encode a DVD compliant SD MPEG-2 version (at CBR 8mbps) and author as a video DVD, then use the remaining space to put a 720p H264 version on the disk for computer playback. If you encode the H264 version properly (using a good encoder and tweaking the settings for quality), (for typical footage) you should be able to get excellent picture quality at 12mbps (CBR) and be pretty sure it will be able to play straight from the disk, as long as you use high quality disks and burn them with a good burner at a relatively slow speed (like 4X). For the heck of it, you could also add a 12mbps WMV version (for playback on older, less powerful, computers that might struggle with H264 playback).
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Old December 11th, 2009, 09:54 PM   #8
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Ooooh, yah. Excellent ideas Robert!!! Thanks for the advice. :)

Thanks to everyone for the pro help, I greatly appreciate it.

I plan on rendering footage and burning discs this weekend... I will reply back here with my results.

Thanks again everyone!

Cheers,
Micky
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