MPEG-2 vs. H.264 and Compressor (and DVDSP) encoding questions at DVinfo.net

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Old October 12th, 2009, 03:44 AM   #1
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MPEG-2 vs. H.264 and Compressor (and DVDSP) encoding questions

Hi, please have mercy on me when I ask these questions. :-)

- The Compressor 3 User Manual (p.163, p.168) -- in a regular SD DVD context -- strongly encourages use of H.264 rather than MPEG-2. But it doesn't mention what any disadvantage (if any) might be with a H.264 encoding for DVDs?

If my understanding is correct, the difference is basically: H.264 delivers better quality at same bitrate or gives same quality (as MPEG-2) but at a lower bitrate. This can be valuable in some situations where you're burning DVD media for a small run rather than doing pressed media -- since burning DVD media has lower reflectivity (and thus, a lower sustainable bitrate). Not as much of a big deal with SD video but becomes more important with HD video, I gather.

- Would it be accurate to say that H.264 holds a distinct advantage over MPEG-2 in nearly every practical way (for creating DVDs) but requires longer encoding time? That's the big downside to H.264? What about codec support across major manufacturers' players?

- If I use an external tool to encode H.264 outside of Compressor and then import the finished encoded video into DVDSP, is DVDSP going to re-encode the video asset when it's assembling the finished DVD image? I'm just concerned about potential degradation of video quality if it essentially encodes it again. Or is DVDSP smart enough to only re-encode video assets if it's not already in a 'DVD-ready' format?

Note: I'm currently using Final Cut Express 4, but am seriously considering FCS3 given the greater capabilities that I'd like to exploit such as Motion (with lots of Shake functionality). There'd be a learning curve but that's a time and financial investment I'd be willing to make and have already been working on. The last major sticking point with FCS3 for me was lack of PDF manuals -- but Apple fixed that not too long ago, so I think I'm ready to jump in when the right time comes.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 08:03 AM   #2
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Correct me if I'm wrong, someone, but I don't think you CAN use H-264 in a standard definition DVD-Video discs - if you want them to be playable on standard set-top DVD players. MPEG-2 (or -1) or nothing.

You sure you're not reading about Blu-ray, Dan?
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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:10 AM   #3
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Correct, Martin, you can't use h264 for an sd dvd, only an hd. From the DVDSP release notes:
"Note: You cannot import H.264, HDV, or HD MPEG-2 assets into an SD project."
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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:09 PM   #4
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Ahh, I see. I'd overlooked that crucial point -- thanks, guys!
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Old October 13th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #5
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Where you might have gotten confused, Dan, is that you can use various codecs, including h264, for web export, or any qt export for that matter, using the qt conversion export setting and then going into the options menu. But for sd dvd in DVDSP and any other authoring program, your show is going to wind up as mpeg 2 no matter what.
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Old October 13th, 2009, 11:23 AM   #6
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Ahhhh, that was it -- thanks! (I'd been wondering how I'd gotten this wrong in my voluminous reading, but that seems to have pinpointed exactly where.)
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