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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old October 15th, 2004, 09:55 AM   #16
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Whoa - sorry to jump in the conversation but I just realized how much I don't know about post production encoding etc. and I previously thought of myself as technically semi-savvy. So, I checked out Canopus site and realized there's a world I don't know about. I have a few questions and I hope someone in this thread won't mind informing a guy now demoted to newb:

I have a p4 2.4 gighz (bought back in Jan 03'), 1 gig RDram, ATI 9700 Pro vid card and edit on Vegas 4.0 (I used to be a Premiere fan but converted a year ago). I've started a very small grassroots production company and we do music videos, some corporate work, and then 1-2 short films a year. We shoot on my DVX100a and I color correct in Vegas and use Magic Bullet Editors. Magic Bullet has awful render times but so far, I haven't minded it too much and at our company's infancy, don't mind not having realtime previews. What I have been a little upset with is the quality of our DVDs. On a computer screen though, I've been mostly happy with output. With so many products listed on their website, which of Canopus' products would be something worth checking out with my current setup and goals? Would I need a higher end system to make their products worth while or be shooting with a higher end camera?
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Old October 15th, 2004, 11:37 AM   #17
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To get the best DVD encoding, regardless of the NLE you use, the Canopus ProCoder is just about the best there is until you use the 'big Hollywood' tools.

I've never A-B compared Vegas with Canopus Edius so all I can say it that it doesn't get a whole lot better than Edius for video.

Where Edius falls short, is in sound editing. I don't worry much about that because when I get done with the visual editing, I very quickly export the sound track(s) and edit it in Sound Forge to reduce noise, etc. Edius has as many audio tracks as you want and RT for all of its many audio filters and effects. Unfortunately, Edius, unlike Storm Edit, does not run the filters like Sony's Noise Reduction in RT.

I then put the audio back into Edius and export a composite AVI file. That file is then taken into Sonicfire Pro where I lay down the music.

I then export the audio once more into Edius and output the master video either direct to my duplication stack (no rendering) or to a file for DVD encoding.

I think you can download demo versions of the Canopus software for evaluation.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 02:04 AM   #18
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I think I sorta agree with Mike.

I have checked out other websites and as far as MPEG-2 encoding, Canopus Procoder is probably one of the best software encoders out there (Cinemacraft could be better but it's way too pricey for me to really test that out).

I did compare Mainconcept's MPEG-2 vs Procoder 2 and Procoder appears to have a slight edge especially when encoding tough scenes such as water or the pool. On Mainconcept, at variable bitrate, it does not do well as there is a lot of macroblocks or pixelation and on procoder is a bit smoother and not as visible using the same settings.

I have mastered two small projects and I ended up encoding as AVI from Vegas and then using Procoder to do my final encoding.

I really don't know how does the Canopus H/W encoding compares to the software. Hands down a Hardware encoder is way faster than any software encoder with the current generation of processors. I guess the Canopus hardware solution would use less overhead from your CPU as most of the overhead (MPEG-2 encoding and rendering scenes) will be taken care of by a dedicated processor which is the Canopus hardware. Another advantage of having a h/w solution is the real time previewing. In Vegas, the realtime preview works ok. It stutters but still works better than having nothing and considering I have a 2.4 Ghz with 1.5 GB DDR RAM and I preview at the smallest resolution. It can be very frustrating when you have several tracks and some complex effects and not being able to preview them until you render so a h/w has a real advantage and saves a lot of time. It helps you get through your projects a lot quicker.

What I am still not convinced on these hardware encoders is the quality between s/w and h/w encoders. In a s/w encoder there is the ability to do a two pass or multi-pass (so I heard from CCE users) that can really maximize the quality. On a h/w encoder, since it's realtime, my guess is that it does a single pass encoding which the bitrate is adjusted on the fly as it detects any changes in the scenes. The way I see these h/w encoders is like my TIVO recording at best quality can still have noticeable pixelation, especially when recording a sporting event, though, the MPEG encoder built-in to a TIVO may not be the best. :)

To answer your question after going way out of topic :P...

What settings are you using to do your final render? Have you tried using a constant bitrate and setting the bitrate to 7.6 or 8 Mbits/sec to see if that yields much better quality? Do some quick tests where you find a scene where quality is most noticeable and just take about 30 secs to 1 min and just render that to different MPEG-2 files with different parameters and settings (ie. 2-pass VBR or Constant Bitrate with 8 Mbps).

Your current rig should be more than sufficient to handle whatever hardware solution Canopus offers. Your camera is more than adequate. From what you mentioned, it sounds more like your encoder or the settings you are using.

Canopus is a very good brand and they do make very quality products.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 08:31 AM   #19
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George, thanks for the great info. I checked out Cinema Craft's website and their basic encoder is only $58, is this one a different core encoder than their other two lines that are much much more expensive?

[edit - nevermind - I found this while checking for reviews of the basic encoder: "Cinema Craft Encoder Lite only supports constant bit rate encoding (CBR) and provides limited control over MPEG compression parameters". So I guess it is rather stripped down. Well, I tried the 8 mbit mpeg2 MainConcept and it does in fact seem to look better not to mention the render time increased steeply which I assume means more work is being put into the quality.]

[Second Edit - hey all, I found a very interesting article from April 2004 regarding a heads up test of all the major mpeg2 compressors even pitting them against a $25k hardware compressor: some interesting results:

http://videosystems.com/mag/video_mp...oder_shootout/

]
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Old October 20th, 2004, 11:24 AM   #20
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Thanks for the article. I was disappointed to see there was no clear winner after what seemed to be a promising test. I wish they would have done a lot more testing and provided more examples for us to be our own judge.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 11:39 AM   #21
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I think they did adequate testing. What they didn't do is pick judges that could make decisions.

The test requirement was to judge the best encoding. Several of the Mac-centric judges couldn't get past some of the PC interfaces and partially ignored the technical issues. That inability clouded the outcome report.
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Old October 20th, 2004, 12:47 PM   #22
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I completely agree. I just wish I could have seen some screencaps or images or a small sample file or even a 10-15 sec MPEG-2 clip for each of the h/w and s/w encoders and have us be our own judges. :)
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Old October 20th, 2004, 12:57 PM   #23
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I think,with ProCoder, if you go to the Canopus Forums, you could get someone to send you a clip.

One of the omissions the article had was it did not recognize that ProCoder can do more than 2-pass VBR encoding and it is very quick compared to most other products.
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