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Old May 14th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #1
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DVD Studio - HD to SD hell!

Hey there,

I'm in the midst of a bit of a nightmare (of my own making) at the moment, and hoping some tech-savvy HD-head out there can offer up some advice.

We have some great DVCProHD 1080i (PAL) footage - a kid's show - that we want to burn to standard definition DVD. Unfortunately, the quality of our initial attempts in DVD Studio Pro came out pretty crappy. Personally, I couldn't believe how bad the image looked compared with our beautiful HD source footage.

Despite the knowledge of my DVD Studio Pro guy, and due to some time restraints, we took the HD footage to a 'pro' post-production house - thinking they must know something we don't. But their results weren't much better... and still cost us a big chunk of money! (Later, we found out they just used DVD Studio Pro as we did)

So, now, we're still where we started. We have great-looking HD footage but can't get it looking what we consider 'acceptable' on a standard definition DVD. Surely, this is possible? I've been fed a bunch of opinions (eg. from the post-house especially) that compressing HD for SD-DVD delivery 'just turns out that way'. I can accept a certain amount of degradation but, by comparison, the end result is truly atrocious!

I mean there must be a way to get nice clean pictures from HD to SD-DVD... I see them every day at the video store!

Can someone enlighten me?

Thanks in advance,

ALEX
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #2
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What do you mean by "crappy" images? If you could be a little clearer with your description, we might be able to provide some more useful suggestions.

How are you downconverting in DVD Studio Pro? Are you using the presets made for SD DVDs? After you select what preset you're using, open up the Inspector window and look at your transcoding settings. You might need to adjust your bit rates and look at how the video is being down-sized, like if it's being letterboxed or squeezed.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 01:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Kuzelicki View Post
I mean there must be a way to get nice clean pictures from HD to SD-DVD... I see them every day at the video store!
The stuff you see at the video store has been scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot compressed by a professional using true pro grade compressioning tools, not just a template in software included as a "bonus" in a $1600 software package.

As well, I've had better experience with 720P material going to SD DVD than I have 1080i. Your mileage may vary...
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Old May 17th, 2009, 12:55 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Kuzelicki View Post
Hey there,

I'm in the midst of a bit of a nightmare (of my own making) at the moment, and hoping some tech-savvy HD-head out there can offer up some advice.

We have some great DVCProHD 1080i (PAL) footage - a kid's show - that we want to burn to standard definition DVD. Unfortunately, the quality of our initial attempts in DVD Studio Pro came out pretty crappy. Personally, I couldn't believe how bad the image looked compared with our beautiful HD source footage.

Despite the knowledge of my DVD Studio Pro guy, and due to some time restraints, we took the HD footage to a 'pro' post-production house - thinking they must know something we don't. But their results weren't much better... and still cost us a big chunk of money! (Later, we found out they just used DVD Studio Pro as we did)

So, now, we're still where we started. We have great-looking HD footage but can't get it looking what we consider 'acceptable' on a standard definition DVD. Surely, this is possible? I've been fed a bunch of opinions (eg. from the post-house especially) that compressing HD for SD-DVD delivery 'just turns out that way'. I can accept a certain amount of degradation but, by comparison, the end result is truly atrocious!

I mean there must be a way to get nice clean pictures from HD to SD-DVD... I see them every day at the video store!

Can someone enlighten me?

Thanks in advance,

ALEX
Hi Alex,
I have great results but use Compressor to encode the video and just let DVD SP burn the final DVD. I have no idea what results you would get from DVD SP encoding.
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Old June 6th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #5
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Hi Alex,
Just a thought but is your original "interlace upper field" if so you must make your DVD the same, when I first did some DVD's from HD I didn't realize AVCHD is upper field and the default on my program to make a DVD was lower field, it looked awful caused by interlace jitter, now I always change it to upper field and it looks fine.
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Old November 16th, 2009, 08:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Robinson View Post
Hi Alex,
I have great results but use Compressor to encode the video and just let DVD SP burn the final DVD. I have no idea what results you would get from DVD SP encoding.
How do you get DVD PRO to just build the disc and burn without in encoding? i think that's my problem! I have tried everything and wasted my entire weekend. I have awesome footage shot in HD 1902. i tried exporting as QT file and importing that into compressor, then bringing that into DVD studio pro. after DVD studio pro encodes and burns the disc, it looks pixelated on tv!

i got a great looking DVD SD disc by using iDVD! but i want to use DVD studio pro. i exported from final cut pro 7 to QT H.264 and bypassed compressor. I let iDVD encode and the disc looks good. too bad DVD Studio pro 7 doesn't handle H.264..... iDVD (cheaper program does!)

so i think it is being ruined because if you use compressor, DVD studio pro encodes again! how do you turn off encoding in DVD studio pro! i already ecoded in compressor! maybe i will just stick with the cheaper iDVD but i don't want to!

i have to also figure out bluray. i am moving from pc to mac and need to figure out workflows from HD to SD DVD and HD to blu ray on mac. thanks!
Steve
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Old November 16th, 2009, 09:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Kuzelicki View Post
Hey there,

I'm in the midst of a bit of a nightmare (of my own making) at the moment, and hoping some tech-savvy HD-head out there can offer up some advice.

We have some great DVCProHD 1080i (PAL) footage - a kid's show - that we want to burn to standard definition DVD. Unfortunately, the quality of our initial attempts in DVD Studio Pro came out pretty crappy. Personally, I couldn't believe how bad the image looked compared with our beautiful HD source footage.

Despite the knowledge of my DVD Studio Pro guy, and due to some time restraints, we took the HD footage to a 'pro' post-production house - thinking they must know something we don't. But their results weren't much better... and still cost us a big chunk of money! (Later, we found out they just used DVD Studio Pro as we did)

So, now, we're still where we started. We have great-looking HD footage but can't get it looking what we consider 'acceptable' on a standard definition DVD. Surely, this is possible? I've been fed a bunch of opinions (eg. from the post-house especially) that compressing HD for SD-DVD delivery 'just turns out that way'. I can accept a certain amount of degradation but, by comparison, the end result is truly atrocious!

I mean there must be a way to get nice clean pictures from HD to SD-DVD... I see them every day at the video store!

Can someone enlighten me?

Thanks in advance,

ALEX
Your problem is downconvert and it is well known, read here:
Precomposed Blog - HD to SD DVD - Best Methods
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Old November 20th, 2009, 02:36 PM   #8
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Steve, you need to be importing a .m2v file and a .ac3 file into DVD Studio Pro, NOT a quicktime. These will import with a green (not yellow) dot next to them and will mean they will not need to be recompressed. You can create this in compressor by putting your quicktime into compressor and using the DVD Best Quality or DVD fastest presets (Best/fastest do what they say).

As you are starting from HD, you need to downres your footage at some point. To do the best job of this in Compressor you need to turn frame controls (editing the preset after you have dragged it onto your clip and choose one of the better but slower resize adjustments - not at my mac right now so can't tell you what exactly the drop down is called but once in the preset it's pretty easy to navigate around and figure things out)

You shouldn't be going to h.264 first in either case. You should use a low loss codec (like prores 422, prores 422(Hq), or prores 4444) as your export medium and then compress THAT to the M2V.

Also as someone has mentioned it's LIKELY that you are having field order issues, as you are going from 1920 x 1080 interlaced footage, which will have upper field first interlacing, into DVD studio pro which is expecting Lower Field First interlacing in an NTSC timeline, and is unlikely to be aware that your HD sized quicktime is upper field first, so will do a bad job of encoding it and get your fields back to front.

Using the DVD presets in compressor will fix this, presuming of course that it detects the correct field order (it usually does but can have problems if you have mixed progressive footage from animations etc in your timeline), in the preset you have an option to let it automatically detect or choose upper or lower field order - assuming your timeline in final cut was set to upper (most likely) then you should be save in changing this to be upper rather than auto, that way it won't 'guess' wrong.

There is quite a lot to achieving good DVD compression, a lot of good answers can be found on the web (or in the manuals of the programs you are using). Take some time doing some research and trying to understand the issues and solutions I have outlined above and you shouldn't have too many problems.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 04:26 PM   #9
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hey guys!! success, i'm pretty sure. stayed up till midnight last night looking over all settings, making new menu from scratch in dvd studio pro and importing the file encoded from compressor. from what i can tell, i did nothing different except:

compressor setting - FRAME CONTROL! this was already on by the way when it looked pixelated for me. the only thing i changed was resize filter = BEST and changed output fields to progressive. these 2 little settings and it looks different. i have yet to view it on the tv upstairs. on the imac it looks nice...i was happy.

i did notice some pixelation, especially with text / titles. this is when it was full size on the 24" imac. when i right-clicked and selected half-size, it went away...hope it looks good on the tv.

the only thing i notice that i don't like is the video clips i chose for the drop zones in the menu. they do look noticably pixelated! but, i exported 30 second clips using the exact same compression preset, exporting right from FCP7 timeline into compressor. not sure what the deal is with that. looks fine during preview in DVD studio pro but not on actual DVD.

to answer my question from before... doesn't look like DVD studio pro encodes again. compressor already did it so it just burns it after compiling the menu. for the menu, 45 minute movie, it took about 8 mins. to encode the entire disc!

encoding the 45 minute movie directly from FCP7 to compressor with the 90 minute best setting (tweaked by me to be CBR 7), it started at 9:30pm roughly, and ended at 3:45am. not too bad...about 6 hours for 45 mins? so i guess 12 hours for 2 hours you can say...to go from 1920 HD to 720 SD via compressor. i will keep you posted of any other events. you guys were awesome!

i knew what i was doing, but those 2 little settings....why would they do that! it's tricky and there are so many workflows!

i wonder if this should be a concern.... i shoot in 30p and capture in 1080i...easy setup...then i export to progressive. going from progressive to capturing in 1080i then to progressive vs. 1080i.... throws me.
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Old November 23rd, 2009, 10:03 AM   #10
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i was wrong. the video is better, but still a little pixelated. what i'm going to do now is export my 1920 HD timeline as 720. can someone let me know what to choose? what is the difference between:

DVCPRO 720p
apple pro res 720p
HDV 720p

with apple pro res, it exported as 1280X720. i wanted 720X480. i'm hoping that downsizing during file/export/quicktime movie, then importing that QT 720X480 into compressor will be better than exporting the entire HD timeline into compressor.

the quality is good going from HD timeline to compressor but i know it could be better. i am picky but it can be better. video i shot with my non-HD GL2 DV cams looked so much better than what this is doing now.

thanks!
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Old November 25th, 2009, 05:38 PM   #11
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Steve - 720p anything is a high definition format - the 720 refers to the vertical pixel count. Can be confusing I know.

If you are going straight from Final Cut to SD you would need to choose an NTSC output format (Sometimes referred to as 525 because of the number of scanlines, but this would only be in AJA codecs etc which I imagine you are not using.)

Don't choose any of the 720p settings, they will all give you the same thing in terms of resolution. Choose an NTSC setting.
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Old November 27th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #12
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hi, thanks. stupid question but can you give me an example of NTSC setting? i am still messing with this after all these days! countless discs and experiments. a handful of people recommended apple Pro Res 422, so i chose that, as 1920X1080, and having DVD studio pro do the encoding during burn. i chose CBR 7. i am staying away from compressor! i hate it. i'm sure if you guys saw my videos you would think they look nice but i know they can be better. something is missing. i can't stand seeing ANY PIXELS! IT DRIVES ME MAD! the counter tops in the kitchen at an angle are made up of tiny squares when it should be a straight line!!!!! it looks this way before i burn a disc in DVD studio pro. the master file looks awesome before i bring it into DVD studio pro.
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Old November 27th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #13
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Oh goodness....

NTSC = 720x480. That is the only NTSC SD broadcast standard I am aware of.

So let's do this.

Post a still frame of your video before encoding, after encoding, and a screen shot of your encoding settings, and let's sort this out.
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Old November 28th, 2009, 10:58 AM   #14
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I'm afraid I can't help - i captured footage into fcp as Prores 422, i edited, i color corrected, i output a master prores file at highest quality settings (i dont care how long it takes to render), i used compressor to compress to MPEG2 (using 1 pass vbr, not 2 pass at highest quality), i brought it into DVDPro (it doesn't recompress), and my final dvd footage looks NICE.

what am i doing right hehehe (sorry)
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Old November 28th, 2009, 04:22 PM   #15
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sheriff, sounds like i'm doing the same as you but i'm seeing slight pixelation. i will try to get screen grabs. i have so many figures running in my head. let me see if i can get this down here....

i shoot Canon cams... HV30 and XH A1. quality on cam is 1920 and i shoot in 30p ALWAYS! a friend told me to capture to FCP7 as 1080i so that is what i did. FCP couldn't see the cams at first so the auto select chose 1080i60 so i left it at that.

now, knowing this... i exported the timeline as APPLE PRO RES 422 1920X1080 30P 48KHZ. i'm wondering if i should have selected the 60i version since that is what my timeline was?? or does it not matter?

so i bring this QT video into DVD studio pro and it looks a little pixelated, encodes to disc, and still a little pixelated. it's not awful...but there are lines on the counter tops.....made of squares. does it look good? yes.... but there is room for improvement. jagged lines should not show up on anything. most lines are good but some are not. when i was shooting strictly in DV with canon GL1 and GL2 cams.... i had no pixelation at all on DVDs.

i also made sure the sequence settings for video processing tab in FCP7 is set for fastest and when i ever made a DVD i set for CBR of 7. in DVD studio pro i also did the trick of
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.

when i saw this before while using imovie09, it was bad..... and that was going from imovie right to burning a dvd. i figured out to get it looking night and day, you have to export to a QT movie from imovie and import that QT movie into iDVD....AT THAT POINT IT LOOKED GREAT! and i was working with hi rez 1920 HD files!

maybe this info will help someone to help me. i have been working on this every day straight for a couple weeks. too bad i don't have anyone to look over my shoulder. maybe i should film a movie and post it to youtube of my workflow........

again, it's not bad..... but i don't think i should see any squares at any time. also, faces look pixely...jittery.... like a vhs tape...know what i mean? it's like it goes through a 2nd compression or something.
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