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Old October 18th, 2003, 02:58 PM   #1
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cd media codec

I just completed a 35 minute video project that is intended for cd distrubution. I've burned the file as mpeg-1 and the video played fine right off the cd. However, mpeg-1 isn't very good quality and I'd like to export as a different format. The viewers have Quicktime installed, so my plan was to use the Sorenson 3 codec because of its high quality. Unfortunately I don't have Cleaner 6 yet, so I have to use the export feature in Final Cut Express. I've been experimenting with video compression for a short while and really don't have a solid understand of what does what. Does anyone have any advice regarding a usable, yet quality bitrate and window size for the movie viewable from the cd?

So far, I haven't achieved very good compression results from FCE. I do plan to buy Cleaner eventually, but its looking like that purchase may have to be sooner than planned. I have tried the demo, but its hard to compare only 15 seconds of video. So I guess my question is, would you recommend just going ahead any buying Cleaner now?

Thanks,
nicholi
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Old October 18th, 2003, 04:04 PM   #2
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I think SVCD is considered best quality off a CD. It is not as good a quality as DVD but the next best thing. Toast can encode SVCD and it's not as expensive as Cleaner. It should hold your program, without any problems.
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Old October 18th, 2003, 04:17 PM   #3
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SVCD is probably only a good idea if the intended audience will be playing it back though a stand alone DVD player. I havn't played around much with higher compression rates then that of a DVD:s mpeg-2. For web samples I have found the mpeg-4 (mp4) files created from Apples Compressor application (included with FCP4) quite acceptable. If that app isn't availible to you, perhaps you would get similar results by compressing from within QT pro.

Have you considered making a regular DVD? Most people now a days should have the option to play that either through their computer or a stand alone DVD player.
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Old October 18th, 2003, 05:39 PM   #4
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I am assuming that Nicholi just wants to burn CDs on his computer and send it to other people for them to watch it on computer.

Working with just FCE, sorenson3 is clearly better than MPEG4 video.

Quote:
So I guess my question is, would you recommend just going ahead any buying Cleaner now?
I wouldn't buy Cleaner. Get Sorenson Squeeze instead. Your encoding will go faster. It might also give better quality.

Or get yourself a PC and use that to encode divX or use TMPGENC to encode better MPEG1.

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I've been experimenting with video compression for a short while and really don't have a solid understand of what does what.
Which settings in the quicktime export menus do you not understand?
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Old October 18th, 2003, 06:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. Very helpful.
This project is actually intended as a mailer to business offices, so I'll be relying more on computers than stand alone dvd players. My original intention in going with a cd was based on my idea that they would be more versitile and less expensive. However, I will also be burning a couple dvds for demonstration purposes.
I agree that sorenson3 is substantially better than plain mpeg-4. Basically, I do understand the settings for exporting, but I'd like to make sure. Window size and quality are pretty straight forward, and I'm guessing bitrate has to do with the speed of data transfer (which would vary greatly between media), but what exactly are keyframes? I just can't seem to find the right balance between video quality, file size, and play-ability off cd. Its very possible that I'm just expecting more than I should. Being repeatedly asked, "Why can't you make it bigger?" doesn't help too much either.
A couple of you mentioned SVCD. From what I understand, this format is viewable on most recently manufactured dvd players and dvd-rom drives with an appropriate program installed on the computer. That quality would be great, but I'm afraid most of the viewers won't be too computer literate, so I want to make this as simple as possible and would like to avoid installing extra players. If the current versions of Quicktime and Windows Media Player can view SVCD, then I'll be set, but I've been told that they can't. If they can open these files, please let me know, because I already have Toast and wouldn't mind using it for something besides just burning basic cds.
I'm going to keep trying settings to see if I can come up with the right match, which is probably a lot like searching for the purple buffalo. Any more ideas would be very helpful.

Thank you again for your help,
nicholi
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Old October 18th, 2003, 08:00 PM   #6
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Keyframes- encoding saves some space by extrapolating images from previous images.
Suppose your keyframes is set at 10fps.
Frame 1 contains the information for a whole frame while frames 2 to 10 are based on previous frames.

If movement is low then use a large number for keyframes. If movement is high then use a lower number. If keyframes is not low enough I believe you will see the image kind of break up before the next keyframe happens.

You might be able to make Quicktime files "bigger" by opening it in QT Pro and changing the settings so that it plays fullscreen or something like that. Most people know how to make movies play fullscreen.

With Sorenson I wouldn't go over 320X240. Old computers will struggle with high resolution sorenson movies. Also, you don't have to worry about artifacts from interlacing.
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Old October 18th, 2003, 08:18 PM   #7
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That makes a lot of sense, Glenn.
I actually feel pretty dumb because, after playing with the settings some more, I realized that my bitrate was way to high.
One thing I also noticed is that my mpeg-1 had smooth dissolves, but my sorenson3 didn't. During the 20 frame dissolve, the video became very distorted. It sounds like that has to do with the keyframes as you described them. I would assume that a dissolve is the same as high movement, so I will start experimenting with that as soon as I leave here.
I'm not really too worried about screen size. I'm going to try to make it viewable at 480x360 just to make my client happy, but will probably end up following your advice and sticking to 320x240 - the viewer can always click on the corner and drag the window bigger if they have to.
Another strange thing was that the sorenson3 file was much higher contrast than the original in FCE. That was an easy fix with the Joe's Filter - Broadcast Legalizer, but I found it strange.
Well it looks like you guys got me cleared up for now. I appreciate it. Now its time to fiddle with some settings.

nicholi
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Old October 18th, 2003, 10:41 PM   #8
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At first I didn't quite understand what you meant by not going over 320x240, but now I do. I never thought that window size would have as much of a bearing as bitrate, but you're obviously 100% correct, and I have a lot to learn.

nicholi
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Old October 19th, 2003, 10:58 AM   #9
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Don't forget Divx

Well, I have found Divx --a hack based on Microsoft's first shot at MPEG4-- to be very good in terms of quality versus bandwidth, and it can play back on most PC's (Windows Media Player can download the codec automatically). Macs with OSX and VLC or one of several plug-ins for QuickTime can also play Divx, as can Linux with the right add-on software. You can make Divx (and SVCD and several other MPEG1 and MPEG4 based variations) with FFmpegX (shareware) under OSX. The results are astounding.

You can also try MPEG4, which should be getting good enough to compete with Divx. There is a wide range of tools for encoding MPEG4, the most basic of which is QuickTime. The neat thing about MPEG4, even if it needs some more bandwidth to equate Divx quality-wise, is that it is a real ISO standard and MPEG4 content will be playable for a long time and on many platforms.
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Old October 19th, 2003, 12:37 PM   #10
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I downloaded FFMPEGX a while ago for its mpeg-1 capabilities. I really liked the results, expecially for shareware. I did try Divx, but didn't have very good luck with it. I'm sure its 100% user error. The program is not the slightest bit user friendly, but after a couple hours, I got it figured out. The settings calculator really simplifies the process, but do you have any tips for tweeking Divx?

Thanks Ignacio,
nicholi
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