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Old June 5th, 2010, 07:51 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Newcastle, Australia, NSW
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Best Way to get top quality from HDV onto DVD


I am using Canon XHa1 and sony HVR-A1P 1080 50i HDV cameras. I recently shot a week long car rally and am about to edit. Ive been using FCP, compressor and DVD studio for a few years now but am curious to know what people use as an ideal setting to export to get the best results on DVD. The colours and image i get from using the best 90mins DVD setting on compressor seem slightly blurred and not as clear as they appear on the tv when the footage is watched straight off the tape in the camera.

I have captured in HDV and have the prores render setting turned on. Basically when ready to out put should i just hit the send to compressor setting or should i save it as a quicktime movie and then add the quicktime movie file to compressor?

If so whats the best quicktime file to save it as? and what would be the best compressor settings for my hour long DVD?

Any help would be much appreciated

Jon Welsh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 6th, 2010, 07:14 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Whidbey Is, WA
Posts: 326
Hey Jon,

The footage from the camera will certainly be far superior since it is HDV while DVD's are SD & compressed.

There's a lot of discussion/frustration on this subject. I did quite a bit of searching here & complied a bunch of the settings - Added them all Below.

I either de-interlace or export a prorez 30p (of course your using pal so...) self contained movie. Then drag it into compressor & use the first setting setting below.

***I apologize for not having the names of the posters.

Here are the settings I use in Compressor. The results are very good. Since you have that software, I strongly recommend you make good use of it as it has a lot more flexibility than just using DVDSP.

You can also "batch process" in Compressor, having it do several different tasks, unattended, overnight.

I'm shooting 1080p30 so that might make a difference. Export Apple ProRes HQ, self-containted. 1920 x 1080 p30.

Drag that file into Compressor --

File Format: MPEG-2
Stream Usage: SD DVD
Video Format: NTSC, frame rate 29.97, aspect ratio 16:9
Quality: Mode - Two-pass VBR.

NOTE: Two-pass Variable Bitrate Compression provides the best quality output and is the most efficient. One-pass VBR isn't quite as good. Two-pass VBR is also slower since it has to go through the entire file to determine compression rates throughout, then go back to apply those rates accordingly. Average bit rate 6.2 Mbps. Maximum bit rate 7.7 Mbps. Motion estimation, best.

Frame Controls: On. Resize filter, better. Output fields, same as source (I'm using progressive so this doesn't really matter). Deinterlace, fast (no deinterlacing taking place in progressive so this doesn't matter). Adaptive details: on.

This is another reason why I shoot progressive frame HD. Eliminates the problems caused by interlaced video. Interlaced video was invented to solve problems caused by the slower scanning rates of television picture tubes in the 1940s. We don't have that problem in the 21st Century so why make things more complicated?

Anti-alias, off. Details level: 20.

Rate conversion: fast (no rate conversion so it doesn't matter). My own personal opinion again: I produce for TV and 30 fps is the native frame rate. So no 24 fps for me since, again, I don't want to make things more complicated.

You can try setting the "resize filter" to "best".

Be aware that setting the "details level" to anywhere above zero will increase the compression time considerably. You might want to do your compression in segments instead of the entire program at once. Our show consists of eight segments and each one is done on its own. In case Compressor should crash overnight at least not all is lost.

IMHO, if you're shooting HD, you should edit in HD. Conversion to SD should be last. That way your program can be re-purposed to HD anytime in the future. Some make the mistake of editing in SD then changing their minds later, and having to re-scale other elements such as graphics and titles. It's almost like doing the whole job twice, and that doesn't make sense. It also makes things more complicated.

Because you're working with interlaced, you might want to do some systematic tests to see what works best. That's how I set my details level at 20. I batch-processed several settings with short test files in Compressor and looked at each one. You can use these settings as a starting point, then change one variable and see what happens. Because Compressor can process several things at a time, you can set up a variety of tests, let them all run, and compare the results afterward.

Just be sure to work methodically and take careful notes.

Shoot in 1080 30p

Edit in Pro Res 1080 30p

Output timeline as QT pro res 1920x1080 30p

in QT7 NOT compressor...scale to 853x480 pro res 30p

in Compressor use "best quality 90min" preset
under frame controls make sure it's set to progressive.

In DVDSP, make sure the disc is set as 16x9

You can substitute your frame rate but the key is keeping it progressive all the way through. The scaling in compressor takes way too long.

I think the trick to a good HD to SD DVD is to work in a FCP seq settings that you are going to out put to.
So If going out to SD DVD work in a SD seq setting template and let FCP resize your HD footage.
For me I'm in Australia and working in Pal and this is what I do.
Shoot what ever format you like and then capture the format at it's resolution, for me I work with Sony PDW350 HD or SD.
Now if I'm going out to SD DVD I open up FCP and make a SD seq setting which will be.
See attached grab.

Complete the edit, export a QT.
Open up Compressor see attached file. Choose your audio format and and remember to change the dialog normalization to -31 and also to set preprocessing to none then let compressor render out.
You don't need to set frame controls as you are not re sizing.
This is all I do and things look fine.

This is what I do for all footage 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Edit in FCP
Export to compressor.
Select best 90mins template and also an audio template.
In the inspector tab for video select: Quality and change this to Mode: one pass, average bit rate 8Mbps. Also change Motion Estimation to Best.
Frame controls: make sure it's turned off.

This is about as good as I can get with Compressor.


I use compressor and get good results this way (which is very similar to other posts so there seems to be a reasonable consensus) - btw I shoot with an XH-A1 so work with HDV so not as high end as the EX boys, so the fine detail of some quality loss is perhaps less noticeable:

1) Edit in FCP6 in native format (HDV).

2) Export as QT movie using 'current settings' (not QT conversion). I don't convert to Prores at all as I've no idea what the point is apart from file size which isn't too bad with HDV - I'd be grateful if someone could tell me why it is worth doing otherwise.

3) Drop file into Compressor and chose DVD best quality 90 mins.

4) Chose highest 'allowable' average bit rate - 6.8 and 2-pass VBR, motion estimation, best.

5) I've tried looking at the GOP settings too as choosing IP can in theory be better for fast motion I think but never really noticed much difference.

6) Frame controls: only need to be on for me if I'm going to de-interlace (I shoot 1080x50i) in which case the chose the right output field (bottom first for SD) and best motion compensated quality. I used to de-interlace everything but a lot of the time it is not needed as DVD players do a very good job of de-interlacing on the fly for you - much better in my experience that doing it at source which always softens the image a bit no matter what method. Having said that Compressor does a pretty good job of it though it takes many, many hours and for some projects with very complex, fast motion I have found de-interlacing at source is the only way to get smooth motion - I'm looking into the possibility of marking key frames (think that's the phrase) in FCP to identify such passages which can then use a different GOP setting for that bit only to deal with it without de-interlacing but not got round to it yet.

7) Export resulting m2v file into DVD SP (I watch it in QT or VLC first to check for any problems).

8) I don't use Compressor for audio as unless file size / space on the DVD is a real issue I see no point in compressing the audio at all. Instead I export the audio only from the original QT file at full quality (48K PCM) and drop this alongside the m2v file in DVD SP.

Burn disc.

Not tried setting details level but it sounds like it might be worth a try.

Results look great.

I read about this problem here and was quite worried, especially because a friend was having trouble with his attempts to make SD DVD's.

However I had excellent results after only a few trials using info I gathered here - God Bless this forum.

I shot in 1080i 24P but my friend was also working in PAL hence the PAL suggestions below which I can't personally vouch for. BTW - I had virtually no graphics other than titles.

1. Edit in EX1 Native Sequence, PAL or NTSC -- Go to "Sequence Settings >Render Control>Codec>Apple ProRes 422 (HDV XDCAM HD/EX only)."

2 ADD FLICKER FILTER TO CLIPS AS DESIRED. ( My buddy tried this not me but said it added a a slight softening which he liked . I didn't use it and I believe my stuff was shot at "0" detail.)

3. Export to Compressor from FCP (I rendered first) or to Quicktime for self-contained movie if you prefer.

4. In Compressor Pick Destination and Settings

5. Select "MPEG-2" file -- Go to Inspector click "Encoder" icon and when "Quality" tab appears, choose bit rates, "Two pass VBR Best" ( I chose average 6.6 and max 7.9) At bottom of window select "Motion Estimation Better." (I read there was a glitch in setting Motion Estimator BEST that produced bad DVD's - don't know if this is still true.)


6. Still in Inspector window select "Frame Controls" icon. Select icon to turn Frame Controls "On." "Resize Filter "Best. CHANGE "Output Fields to "Progressive" Leave deinterlace to Fast (Line averaging), and "Adaptive Details" box checked. Leave other settings as is.

Be prepared for long renders.

7. Proceed to make DVD in DVDSP
Chris Korrow is offline   Reply

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