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Old April 18th, 2003, 11:33 AM   #1
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Maintaining Video Quality through editing and effects work

Hi Guys,

I often want to take captured dv video files and then do special effects work on them that may take them through 3dsmaxr4, combustion, after effects and then finally to premiere.

At each of these possible stages there will be a re-render involved, and the drop in video quality is fairly obvious even for 2 re-renders (including the final one). I first noticed it as a kind of "grid" look appearing on it, as if the video was made from very large pixels (i.e. not pixellated, but like a grid was laid over it).

At first I though this might be due to settings in after effects / premiere...i.e. square or rectangular pixels etc, and perhaps accidentally mixing and matching video settings, but now I think it is just a degradation in quality due to constant recompression to dv.

My question is, can I maintain the original quality throughout all these effects passes. At the very least I have to re-render the original dv once in the final cut, and the drop in quality is distressing me.

The obvious answer might be that I should be working with completely uncompressed files during all the work and then recompressing back to dv at the end (and considering the dv files for the current project are around 5gb I haven't got that much space!). Are there alternative dv codecs that can maintain the quality better than "microsoft dv" or "dvsoft" ?

Any help would be appreciated - thanks!

Alex Gingell
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Old April 18th, 2003, 11:41 AM   #2
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When I have had to do extensive effects, titles, etc., I usually don't apply any compression, until the final render. I'm not sure about combustion, but it should allow you to save without further compression. Max should output the file as an avi that you would layer over (Or under ) the existing video, rendering and compressing the final product.
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Old April 18th, 2003, 04:13 PM   #3
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Right yes, when I actually get around to upgrading my computer I will get something powerful enough and with enough space to work with uncompressed files, but right now that isn't possible.

Also, I generally find that 3dsmaxr4's native blending is so much better than rendering out layers and compositing that I generally try and do the former where it is simpler that way.

But I take your point, it certainly makes sense to gather everything separately for one final render.

Are there a variety of dv codecs some better quality than others ?

Thanks

Alex
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Old April 18th, 2003, 08:18 PM   #4
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After you transfer the initial footage from mini-dv or whatever source (beta sp, etc) you should be working in Full Frame, Uncompressed for all of those programs.

Only when you write to tape with the mini-dv deck, should compression even touch your work when it's written down the firewire to the deck.
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Old April 18th, 2003, 08:28 PM   #5
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I've read that the microsoft Dv is a poor and cheap driver. The Mainconcept which costs $50 (USD) is the best.

" Many people believe that the DV editing process does not result in any video quality loss. Actually, there is the potential for loss during editing (for example, when titles or transitions are added). The MainConcept DV Codec is widely recognized as offering the best quality and rendering speed. It is compatible with any program which supports standard Video for Windows codecs.

Operating systems: Windows 95, 98, 98SE, 2000, Me, XP, NT
Current version: 2.1
Price: $49 (download version)"

www.mainconcept.com/products.shtml

The other option that is also considered high quality is the Matrox DV which is free, do a Google for it.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 05:58 AM   #6
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John:

What format is best to work with uncompressed files? I have read that uncompressed .avi is pretty bad, and that uncompressed quicktime is the best bet, but I can't see what difference it would make if it was truly uncompressed?

Thanks
Alex
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Old April 19th, 2003, 06:31 AM   #7
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Alex,

Garret makes a good point about the stock DV codec in Premier (which is the MS DV Codec).
Even from some simple experiments you can see the degradation at 2-generations. I am using the MainConcept codec and it's far improved and from a budget perspective very affordable. There are others probably available.

There's a good detailed thread over on MC's forum that sheds light on how to employ the codec in various means within Premier.

http://forum.mainconcept.com/viewtopic.php?t=90&highlight=dv+codec+premier

Also, there's another extensive consideration up on www.abcdv.com , just plug in the search term "microsoft dv codec" and it will return the key threads.

I've been satisfied with it.
BTW: I do not use the full implementation method very often unless I'm doing something requiring precise preview capability. Otherwise I simply employ it in the final render stage to generate the output.

Good Luck,
Rob
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