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Old February 8th, 2010, 12:31 AM   #1
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DVD Quality problem

If anyone has already posted this question - please point me to the right direction.

I seem to be having quality issues in my final product - i.e. DVD-5 . I an editing with FCP 5.1.4 , from captured 1080i/60 footage. I've tried exporting as a QT movie at current settings ( with noticeable artifacts ) and with the AIC codec ( with a bit fewer artifacts ) .

Can someone PLEASE assist me with recommended work-flow to get the best quality product to DVD possible ?? Step by step would be appreciated.

I only have 25 minutes of footage and need an auto-play DVD. I've burned the last two times with iDVD. Should I use DVD SP to burn the projects ?

I have to deliver this project by week's end, Anyone know what I'm missing ?


Thanks !!
Darin
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Old February 8th, 2010, 03:10 PM   #2
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Home Run !!

I hate to answer my own question- but maybe it will help someone else as well.

I just burned the best quality SD DVD that I have ever burned ! Just what I needed - an auto-play , looping DVD from HDV footage.

Here's the links to the step-by-step instructions:

HDV video to SD DVD using Compressor and DVD SP

DVD Studio Pro: Authoring a DVD that plays automatically without a menu

[ Be sure to use the "Bit Budget" calculator - Awesome ! ]

That's all it took !! Thanks Ken Stone & Apple !
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Old February 12th, 2010, 06:30 AM   #3
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I don't think there's any way of getting high quality results using mac workflow for the HD down-scaling to SD - one has to dip into a bunch of esoteric utils - but the quality is well worth it.

HD to SD: Precomposed Blog
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Old February 13th, 2010, 03:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Joseph View Post
I don't think there's any way of getting high quality results using mac workflow for the HD down-scaling to SD - one has to dip into a bunch of esoteric utils - but the quality is well worth it.

HD to SD: Precomposed Blog
That's completely incorrect and in fact the built-in tool, Compressor - which that article does only but to slam it - is quite capable of making very high-quality encodes and downscaled HD-to-SD finals. There are two main problems with Compressor that cause this wide-scale misconception:

1. Most people do nothing but use the built-in templates for making their encodes, whether it's downscaling or not. In fact, the title of some of the built-in settings say things like, "best quality...", but in fact it's very, very far from being the best quality Compressor is capable of because the deeper settings for both scaling, retiming and motion estimation are not turned on and or not optimized. And the reason Apple did this leads into the second reason;

2. Compressor is painfully slow when you activate all it's advanced settings to their maximum quality settings, and the same people who simply use the built-in template settings also lack the patience to allow Compressor to complete it's task. It's one reason why so many third-party apps have sprung up in Mac-land for final encodes; not because Compressor *can't* do a quality job, but that it's very inefficient at doing it taking far too long for the average "I want it yesterday" user.

As posted in my review of the recent Apple-based encoders:

encoder shootout

Episode is the king of the hill for both speed and quality. In fact, no software-based encoder, not even the PC versions are capable of making a higher-quality final encode than Episode. Only a hardware encoder can do a better job - if you can afford the price-tag. Episode's main failing? The cost: just $4 dollars shy of the full FCS suite.

So can Compressor do the job as well as the PC encoders? Absolutely if not better, you just have to be patient and let it do it's job.

For a quick and full understanding of all Compressor is really capable of I always refer people to this book: Compressor 3 Quick Reference Guide; Brian Gary.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:55 AM   #5
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Robert,

What is the best HD to SD work flow when using compressor? I've read in other thread that you need to use a bicubic spline downconverter or Lanczos rescale. I don't fully understand what those are but it seems like that is what most people are using to get the best quality. Are these available in compressor? or something similar? At this point using compressor is the most cost effective solution, I'll just have to be patient.

I am shooting a wedding the first week of March and want to shoot it in HD so that I can have the flexibility to put HD footage online and use the footage for demos but the clients need the final product on DVD. Any help with this work flow would be great! Thanks.

Chris
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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:45 AM   #6
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I'm in the same kind of boat. I will also be shooting a wedding in March and would like to know the best workflow. Everywhere I look, people are using Cineform NeoHd or programs like Episode 5. I find it really hard to believe that FCP Suite can't do the things I want and make it look good. I must be missing something HUGE!
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Old February 16th, 2010, 03:41 PM   #7
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I'm so glad Robert said his piece because I read the linked article too and thought that's complete rubbish - I get good results using Compressor but didn't really have confidence to trash the article.

Joel and J it isn't that tricky - look here for a thread on the issue:

My DVDs Are Looking Crummy. Any Advice?
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Old February 16th, 2010, 04:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
That's completely incorrect and in fact the built-in tool, Compressor - which that article does only but to slam it - is quite capable of making very high-quality encodes and downscaled HD-to-SD finals. There are two main problems with Compressor that cause this wide-scale misconception:
Robert, that's good news and would simplify my foray into WindowsXP everytime I need HQ HD -> SD conversion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
As posted in my review of the recent Apple-based encoders:

encoder shootout
Your 'shoot-out' seems mostly concerned with speed over quality and your test file does not address issues of stair-step or jaggies common in converting interlaced HD footage to SD. A problematic area is titles - you make no mention of quality of CG titles. FWIW I should also declare I work in PAL.

Conspicuously absent from your shoot-out and post here are specific settings that will 'unlock' this hidden quality of compressor. It may well be capable, and I will invest some time testing it (again) with careful attention to frame controls and "scaling, timing motion".

What I can say is the PC-based AVISynth rescaling of HDV produces far superior DVDs to any of the other Mac-only workflows where the authors' seem completely satisfied with their results. I.e. each of us has different standards and for instance I am completely dissatisfied with the results following one such workflow:

Exporting HDV Video from the Timeline to Standard Definition DVD
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Old February 16th, 2010, 05:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoffrey Cox View Post
I'm so glad Robert said his piece because I read the linked article too and thought that's complete rubbish - I get good results using Compressor but didn't really have confidence to trash the article.

Joel and J it isn't that tricky - look here for a thread on the issue:

My DVDs Are Looking Crummy. Any Advice?
Well, the article isn't rubbish - 'cos it works - plain & simple. Whether comparable results can be obtain from a simpler Compressor workflow is the subject of debate.

You mention you get good results (not great?). As mentioned my post above people have different standards.

Maybe your subject matter is not demanding of the HD to SD process. Do you use a lot subtitles on-screen? Do you have high contrast diagonal lines like a dark men's jacket lapel against white business shirt?

I would respectfully suggest you try a test with above sort of content 1) in compressor using the method you're happy with 2) following Jon Geddes workflow.

Appraise and then share your thoughts. If you haven't tried the PC workflow your view that it's complete rubbish is of little merit.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 06:09 PM   #10
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Mark, I should have qualified my argument - I meant that the contention that the results from Compressor were bad was rubbish, not that the workflow suggested would not produce very good results. Indeed I haven't tried it because the complexities of it for a Mac user are prohibitive unless you've got a lot of time. This does matter.

And you are right, true appraisal cannot be done without proper comparison. All I can say is that I haven't felt the need to do it because I am happy with the Compressor workflow (though not the rendering times as Robert points out). Maybe my standards are lower but I feel we can get so bogged down in technicalities and an obsession with visual 'quality' that we forget the content.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 08:27 PM   #11
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Geoffrey,

Fair enough. I admit to obsessing about the encodes as I'm responsible for producing internal video comns for large govt department featuring the agency head. I had a requirment to use VMWare Fusion to do our WMV encodes with Expression encoder...so I took a morning to try the PC utils.

Compressor with frame controls ON not productive - my faffing about in WindowsXP is quicker based on the 1min HDV test I'm trying today - just incredible 2x 1 min encodes are taking something like 2 hrs!
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Old February 16th, 2010, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Joseph View Post
Your 'shoot-out' seems mostly concerned with speed over quality...
Indeed, the shootout is specifically about speed, because those who know how to tweak and setup Compressor properly never complain about it's quality of output but it's snails-pace at doing the job.

Suffice it to say that Compressor has been used a great deal in the commercial world even in film workflows to and from the Telecine process with great success. Very slowly, but successfully. And the "best settings" question has been posted - and answered - to *ad nauseam* on this forum, so for those asking that question I always respond with two options:

1. Use the "search" feature on the forum to lookup those posts so that it's not being re-posted again for the um-teenth time and/or;

2. Get the book by Brian Gary that I recommend to anyone serious about learning all the tricks Compressor has to offer. You certainly can't learn all you need to know hoping a Q and A session on a forum will cover *everything*. (^_*)

At some point when I get caught up on everything else I'll post a "best settings" for various Compressor tasks on the review site and hopefully it will get posted as a sticky here, but until then use the free tools available to you and get the info freely floating around here.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:08 PM   #13
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Thanks - Robert - indeed I enabled the frame controls and can see the there is no problem rescaling. I added comment on Jon Geddes blog to this effect as I was incorrect about Compressor's ability.

I'm still sorting out some flicker or jittering prob related to my field dominance (I was sure lower/odd was it for SD PAL DVD).

Unfortunately the speed penalty will probably count it out for all but the odd job...our 2.26 8-core MacPro isn't enough.


UPDATE:
As I eat my words on Compressor’s ability I thought I’d share my comparison of PAL HDV to SD scaling/MPEG2 compression of Compressor 3.5 vs a workflow using a Windows utils as outlined at the PreComposed blog referenced above.

Once I tweaked Compressor the results were nearly the same as using a freeware PC encoder (HC Encoder v0.23) and resizing with Avisynth.

Both encoders were set to two pass, 6.2 Mbps VBR Best quality, ceiling of 7.7 Mbps, with Compressor Motion estimation = best.

I preferred the HC Encoder video – it showed slightly better details in terms of small facial imperfections -not a good thing aesthetically – but this a technical appraisal.

NB: I left Compressor frame-controls anti-alias and detail on 0, since Apple specify these parameters were applicable to improving up-scaling.

Other frame-control I settled on :

Resize filter : better (linear filter)
Output field: Top first
Deinterlace : Best (motion compensated)
Adaptive details checked on
Duration 100%
Rate conversion (Fast nearest frame)

In summary, Compressor does a sterling job of processing HD source material into SD MPEG2 but alas the time taken precludes it from being used in our workflow.

My test video was 1501 frames long (~1m), sending 5 iterations to Compressor with various frame-controls settings took 5 hours 41 mins, roughly 1 hour per minute of source to encode.

1min of the same footage took under 7 mins to encode using HC encoder/Avisynth running on VMWare Fusion 3.

Last edited by Mark Joseph; February 17th, 2010 at 08:09 PM. Reason: updated testing
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Old February 18th, 2010, 12:28 PM   #14
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So are you saying that it would take compressor approximately 60 hours to encode a 1 hour sequence?
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Old February 18th, 2010, 02:49 PM   #15
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yes, unless extrapolating from my 1 min video doesn't represent Compressor's performance on longer videos. But from Robert's comments of being "painfully slow" above I guess 60 hours would be it based on my 8 core 2.26 machine at least and not fooling with Apple QMaster.
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