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Old July 23rd, 2009, 04:14 PM   #1
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video for broadcast issues with final cut studio

I want to send a local cable station a 30 sec spot and I am running into some technical issues:
the file format must be mpeg 2 4:2:2 color with embedded audio
As far as I know I don't see anyway to produce this with apple's compressor, does anyone else do commercials? The only workaround I saw was buying an expensive piece of software called Episode. Can't compressor do this?
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 05:01 PM   #2
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What's curious about this is that the Compressor manual - and even the Quick Reference guide that I often refer people to - are mum on the subject of whether or not Compressor retains the original color-space or not.

I do know that in fact Compressor CAN create MPEG2 transport or program streams with embedded audio (transport can have multiple video assets while program only allows one with the associated audio asset) BUT it does not specify color space nor is there any utility to force it to retain a color space, only bitrate, motion estimation, geometry etc.

The ironic thing is that I've never used Compressor for any of my TV-commercial gigs, I've always used Episode Pro (now called Episode Desktop) to make sure I kept my 4:2:2 color space from the original DVCPRO files because as you point out, it does have the ability to specify a color space for MPEG2/4.

I've sent you an email about this.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 09:22 PM   #3
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Hi Paul, I've just done some checking as this is an area that I work in a bit, and it turns out that compressor's MPEG Encoding, from what I can see, is encoding when set to 'High Quality' is encoding at Main Profile Quality High, not at High Profile, which means, according to the documentation I have read, it's encoding at 4:2:0.

I discovered this by looking at a MPEG I had encoded using these settings, and then took it across to a PC where I used an open source program called DGIndex that gives a very detailed account of the program stream.

This explains why there isn't a colour setting available in compressor for the encoder, because ALL main profile encoding is 4:2:0

I am not sure if compressor has high profile encoding capabilities for MPEG-2, at first glance it doesn't seem to, but it may be that there is another encoder in the back end that is either hidden or not properly implemented?
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 09:37 PM   #4
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Have a question to you guys that use Episode. In your experience is Episode better than compressor for encoding to mpeg-2 DVD and web formats.
I know this is an open question but I'm wondering if I should have Episode in my tool kit.

Thanks
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:07 PM   #5
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I went away and did some more research and have an update - apparently you can record 422 at Main Profile, using a 422 Profile at Main Level (422P@ML) however, this isn't what I am getting out of compressor, and as there doesn't seem to be an option for this, my thinking is it's probably not an available option in compressor.

For this reason alone, I'd suggest that if you are delivering to broadcast it's worth looking at Episode Pro or another encoder that gives you access to the full gamut of encoding options, especially when you have a delivery sheet that expects 422 delivery.

(Sorry I couldn't bring better news, except hopefully Compressor 3.5 rectifies this, after all it states 'Industry Standard Encoding' on the info page for FCS3. But I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't... Still, worth asking someone who does the upgrade if you are looking at upgrading anyway, as the whole FCS2 upgrade is cheaper than Episode Pro on it's own.)
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Ash View Post
Have a question to you guys that use Episode. In your experience is Episode better than compressor for encoding to mpeg-2 DVD and web formats.
I know this is an open question but I'm wondering if I should have Episode in my tool kit.

Thanks
Depending on how much you'd use it Episode could be an invaluable tool. There are only 2 major downsides I can think of:

1. It's costly; the Pro version costs as much as a full-version of FCS2 or 3
2. Although it makes uber-clean MPEG-2 files - often better than Compressor can - those files DON'T play well with DVDSP4. They often have skipping playback both in "simulation" mode and when burned to a disk. (see note below)

Last year I worked with Telestream's tech support on the lack of compatibility with DVDSP4; they were aware of the issue but were not getting support from Apple in fixing it, most likely because Apple wants people to use Compressor and not a competitive product.

The upside is that Episode is at least 5-7x times *faster* than Compressor at making ANY type of encode and as I mentioned before often with superior color results especially for creating a broadcast program stream (4:2:2 color being one of the reasons).

For example, just 6 months ago I had a massive project that Compressor took a total of 18 hours to encode at the bitrate/quality settings I was happy with. That same project took less than 7 hours to encode in Episode Pro - with better color and slightly more detail.

Episode Pro also works with exported reference files from FCP, which is a great time-saver since you're not forced into using a self-contained file which can take a lot longer to create and export.

On top of that Episode has a bevy of Flash encoding options perfect for use in web, Director projects or other multimedia.

Would I recommend Episode? You bet. Just be aware of the cost (and potential ROI for your business) and that MPEG-2 files may not behave properly in DVDSP4 projects.

(UPDATE) The incompatibility with DVDSP4 may have been recitified in the newer version of Quicktime; when I last troubleshooted this problem with Telestream it was on a version of QT that's been updated 3 times since. I have not tested Episode MPEG-2 files in DVDSP4 since.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:42 PM   #7
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Sample

Here's just a quick sampling of the fact that even in a SD MPEG-2 encode you can create 4:2:2 output. I've not seen any other software-based encoder (with a possible exception to Squeeze since I haven't tested any version of that for over 4 years) that offers this flexibility. Period.

With exception to MPEG files intended for DVDSP4 E-Pro is my first-line tool for any encoding job, hands-down. It's just a shame that the price-point for the Pro version is so high, but then again superior tools are never cheap.
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 10:56 PM   #8
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Yeah thanks Robert,
Which version are you using?
I can see the Episode Encoder, Episode Encoder Pro and then there are two others costing up to $8k.

Cheers
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Old July 23rd, 2009, 11:46 PM   #9
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Episode "Encoder" Pro, (just under $1k USD) latest version 5.2.1. The more costly, enterprise versions are only for dedicated render farms or managed distributed environments not desktop single-user.

I've seen Episode at work on a dedicated server-rack render farm at a CGI/animation facility in SoCal; Imagine a 2-hour program with 2K original assets all encoded as an MPEG-2 transport stream with high bitrates and 7.1 Dolby - in less than 10 minutes. I think I drooled.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 07:10 PM   #10
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I use Bitvice for MPEG compression, there is no better way.

innobits.com - It is all about visions

Then there are third party freeware for combining audio with mpeg stream.

I have used it for uploading to several stations and networks.

Most of my commercials are still delivered on BetaSP

Last edited by Olof Ekbergh; July 24th, 2009 at 07:12 PM. Reason: fixed
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Old July 24th, 2009, 10:28 PM   #11
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Although BitVice does a decent job it does not support 4:2:2 color output nor does it have any of the advanced features required for many broadcast TV programs especially when closed-captioning and MTU packets specifications are required.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #12
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If you think about it, most of the lower end cameras out there do not shoot 4:2:2 to begin with.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 10:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David W. Jones View Post
If you think about it, most of the lower end cameras out there do not shoot 4:2:2 to begin with.
If you read through this thread, Paul Miller was asking about whether or not Compressor could encode 4:2:2 color for a broadcasters specific request for the color space. Episode is the only software-based encoder I'm aware of that is capable of the task. It's not about the camera.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 12:40 PM   #14
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The company I work for purchased Episode Pro a year ago when we migrated to insertion on our digital cable feed. It was the only encoder I could find that could produce a muxed transport stream mpeg 2 file with mpeg 1/layer 2 audio with the bit rate I needed. $1k isn't bad at all when you consider the cost of a hardware-based encoder. Even our AC-3 transcoding software cost $12k!
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