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Old August 16th, 2007, 02:38 PM   #1
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Vegas 7 -> output Flash - Best Advise?

I'm using Vegas 7 and need to export video that will end up being encoded via a Flash Encoder. I'm considering purchasing either Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 for Flash ($249) or the On2 VP Encoder from On2 technologies (also $249). Both output via the On2 VP6 codec which is what I'd like to work with. I have no problem with the cost of either of these products provided the output meets my expectation of quality.

Therein lies the problem. Sorenson is an either buy it or forget software package. The software from On2 you can doanload a trial but it puts an X through the output file. I don't consider this a problem because at least with this I can check quality. The problem is, I'm having the darndest time exporting my video and having it look any good in these tests.

My desired output resolution is:
384 X 216 (1/5th of my source 1920X1080 HDV file)
30fps
bit rate somewhere in the neighborhood of 300kb/sec.

I see video's encoded with Flash all over the place that blow mine away. My source is HDV which looks phenominal in the Vegas preview. I've tried exporting in all kinds of differenent methods via the Vegas timeline (.AVI, .MOV, Mpeg2 (crashes a lot though - don't know why), Mpeg-4 AVC, etc, etc) to act as my source material for the On2 VP6 encoder.

What are others doing who work with Vegas and need to end up with a On2 VP6 high quality flash file? Seems I see flash video looking fantastic everywhere else...

very frustrating...

Jon
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Old August 17th, 2007, 01:56 AM   #2
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John,

I'm using the On2 flash encoder. I usually render as a 720X480 .avi out of Vegas with great results. I have had some issues with the encoder when I try to encode as a 1440X1080. It works, but glitches on me when I load it. I'd have to check but there was no appreciable difference anyway. I really like the encoder. Most of my stuff is real estate tours that I stream from my site so I can live with the quality. I don't want to crush my server with too big of files. There's a sample file on my front page at http://www.cutlassfilm.com
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Old August 17th, 2007, 02:30 PM   #3
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Jon

Export from Vegas using Microsoft .avi codec uncompressed, import this file into Sorenson, set it up the way you want and let it eat.

Big .avi files and long renders, but worth it. Check SFGMedia.com, thats all flash.

Jim
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Old August 17th, 2007, 05:08 PM   #4
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Oh I can't thank you both enough for chiming in on thsi frustrating situation.. Allow me to ask a few questions...

Ken....
#1) When you say you render as a 720X480 .avi, what particular compression codec are you using for the export? .avi offers a wide vareity of codec's to use to burry into that wrapper. It looks as though you are shooting in HD (with the camera on the home page) but the render appears to be a SD signal. Why not post in the true 16:9 aspect ratio? (just curious)..

#2) The file you have automatically playing is 2:33seconds, what resolution is this and how large is the flash file? Is it a full 30fps or 24fps?

#3) Are you streaming that content (progressive download, whatever) from a seperate video service provider or just your regular old web host?

Thanks to both of you again for chiming in...

Jon
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Old August 20th, 2007, 11:31 PM   #5
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John,

Sorry I was out of touch for a couple of days. To answer

I shoot in HD and capture using Cineform HD Connect to a Raid 0 array. My Vegas project settings are 1440 x 1080 with a pixel aspect of 1.33. I de-interlace here by blending fields. (I use the XL-H1 and shoot mostly in 60i).

I had been having problems running the 1440x1080 in On2 as it was kind of funky during loading. I'm running a test right now and will post the result in a while.

Edit: Just ran a test in On2 at 1440X1080. Looks like crap. Will report back later.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 01:50 PM   #6
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Okay, I have some new news to report on my findings....

#1) I've gotten the quality to come up considerably on my flash files from my HDV source on the Vegas timeline. My method is as suggested above. I create my project, then render the video out to an .avi file using uncompressed and exporting in the identical resolution that I want the end result to be.

#2) I then import into either On2 Flix Pro 8.5 Demo or Sorenson Squeeze for Flash 4.5 Demo and manipulate compression settings (always using On2 VP6 of course) and export from there. I've found LARGE descrepencies in the quality of the video mainly dependant on the bitrate that I select. In most cases I'm using VBR 2-pass encoding but each encoder will allow you to select an "average" and a "maximum" bitrate. In ALL cases, the nothing matched the quality of my uncompressed .avi file (of course), but I was pleasently surprised by the quality on high bit rate files created with either program.

Using this workflow I believe I've managed to export video with quality that rivals the others I spoke of initially (yay!).

Now... which encoder to buy and use..

They both retail for $249. The quality difference between the two I find is not noticable at all. This would make sense considering they are (should be) using identical codec for encoding. After requesting a trial for Squeeze, they sent me a coupon code saying it would give me a discount if I wanted to buy but didnt' state how much that would be (I'm assuming 5-10% off).

Regardless of the discount, I think I'd probably go with the Squeeze encocer as perceptually it felt as though it was doing a little faster job at encoding. I also think Sorenson is paying a little more attention to their end user application. This isn't as much of a lack of recommendation of the On2 product as it is me just thinking the Sorenson product edges it out a bit...

Another note.......

I've decided to NOT go with flash afterall and encode and display with Windows Media. Apparently almost all newer MAC's have the ability to play Windows Media and we know nearly 100% of PC's can playback. The main decision for this was a cheaper host for streaming + the ability to have a player be able to easily resize without a lot of programming. Playback quality is nearly identical in Windows Media 9 to On2 VP6 in my opinion and it's FREE in Vegas.

I got hooked up on once I had my .FLV, now I had to build a custom player to fit my video size accurately or buy one. Then getting it to work with the host was another pain in the butt. If money and time were not an object, I'd still go as far to say that Flash might be the preferred format for a little better cross platform compatability, quality, etc. But for now, Windows Media will get the job done and do it well.

Jon
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Old August 21st, 2007, 02:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon McGuffin View Post
...Another note.......

I've decided to NOT go with flash afterall and encode and display with Windows Media. Apparently almost all newer MAC's have the ability to play Windows Media and we know nearly 100% of PC's can playback. The main decision for this was a cheaper host for streaming + the ability to have a player be able to easily resize without a lot of programming. Playback quality is nearly identical in Windows Media 9 to On2 VP6 in my opinion and it's FREE in Vegas. (emphasis added)

I got hooked up on once I had my .FLV, now I had to build a custom player to fit my video size accurately or buy one. Then getting it to work with the host was another pain in the butt. If money and time were not an object, I'd still go as far to say that Flash might be the preferred format for a little better cross platform compatability, quality, etc. But for now, Windows Media will get the job done and do it well.

Jon
Jon, this is an unexpected result. I have to agree with you that the WMV player does an outstanding job of resizing... the various params in an embedded player can give you control, or, if sent to a standalone player, give the user control.

One of the challenges that WMV faces on the mac is that there is a substantial minority of mac users that would sooner not look at your content rather than have the fingers of the evil empire in their beloved and pure mac.

My streaming work has generally been for business/corporate users, and mac is not a factor there. I've been very happy with WMV quality, I think better than VP6 for the same bitrate.

Having said all that, flash is key to full integration with other web content. Nothing is more friendly to scripting, layer control, interactivity, navigation and back-end database integration than the flash environment. So far, my clients are happy enough with static html layouts... but I know we'll see more and more calls for the application integration that flash offers.
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Old August 21st, 2007, 07:00 PM   #8
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Hey Seth!

Thanks for chiming in... Yes, this is somewhat of an unexpected result on my end as well. Allow me to further elaborate my decision making process.

First, allow me to point you toward my video (Still a work in progress, I'm a novice, it's not that great, but it's a start...)
http://www.easytogrowbulbs.com/index...=Custom&ID=172
- native 384x216 (1/5th HD) - 30fps - about 350kb/sec including audio. My larger 960x540 higher bit rate encodings look really good.

Now, a few things to keep in mind...
My customers at this website (I operate the site) are 75% women and the vast majority are in their late 40's - early 60's. They are not computer savvy whatsoever. While 13.3% of them are visiting me on MAC's, I don't believe this is the same group that has anything against a PC. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure most of them don't even understand and know there is a different. You know, the kind of people who call the computer box the CPU, and when you ask them what operating system they have they reply "I use Office". :)

I was just to the point of getting flash video to encode to a .flv pretty well when I ran into the wall of the custom players and the hassle and workload around trying to get it to size correctly. I know this is something that could have been overcome, and I was willing until I ran across this provider (www.streamhoster.com). These guys were giving me some really good support via email (quickly too) and their prices were better than just about anything else out there I could find. They offer streaming and progressive download, but only stream WMV, .MOV & Real. That wasn't an issue though because I have intended to go with progressive download the entire time.

Buying their service has allowed me to save the $250 for the encoder + whatever it would have cost me for the custom player (I'm not a programmer and couldn't find any "free code" on the web). Quality wise, I can't frankly tell much of a difference though I *might* think the Flash is better, it's seriously too close to call and I know my customers aren't going to cre either way.

My only sacrifice is the possible cross platform compatability issue but I've been assured that there are a significant portion of MAC's who will be able to view this video.

The beauty of this is that I can still host .flv files with this company via progressive download. So i've not given up much other than saving $250+ for the encoder.

I would agree, in most cases I think Flash is the way to go, in this case, I can cheaply role the dice with WMV. What's great is, I've actually found a way to get good quality via both formats.

Jon
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 10:13 AM   #9
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John:

Two thoughts:

1. Have you tried your output by cranking up the bit rate, but dropping the frame rate to 15 fps?

2. Instead of outputting first to .avi, what about skipping this step and frame serving via Satish's frameserver directly to the encoder?

I'm discovering a whole new world of possibilities by frameserving from Vegas.

Brian
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 10:58 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brian Mitchell Warshawsky View Post
...1. Have you tried your output by cranking up the bit rate, but dropping the frame rate to 15 fps?...
Try this at the same bitrate, and you effectively get twice as many bits per frame.

Jon, to me the sample looked good, even acceptable at full screen.

15fps for a talking head shot is well worth trying!
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 04:58 PM   #11
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Thank you both Brian and Seth for your replies...

#1) I didn't want to go to 15fps because, to me, the only thing worse than blocky pixelated video is shaky, stuttering video. Maybe 24fps, but then I have a cadence issue becuase I'm shooting 60i and not sure how a 24fps output will come out.

#2) Don't know anything about frameserving but you've peaked my interest. In the end, an output via an 'uncompressed' .avi file should be just fine as a source. I view the .avi on my computer and it's essentially identical to my HDV source (already compressed as it is). The original quality is extremely sharp and very vibrant. No matter what I encode it to and bitrate I use, I loose color detail the most, which is okay because I'm more concerned with pixelating than color.

I will play around with these suggestions by droping the framerate...

Jon
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Old August 22nd, 2007, 05:44 PM   #12
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I meant to say one other thing...

In the future, I don't intend to have my backgrounds exhibit so much variations in color, etc. That should help some with compression.

Jon
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Old October 12th, 2007, 12:30 PM   #13
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On the subject of color correction.

Hello,

I'd like to jump in here and ask a question.

What types of color correction are you doing in order to make the compressed version have the same color quality as photographs when compared to video? I'm trying to put together real estate video tours using both pictures and video combined, but in most cases the when transitioning between video and pictures, the video looks washed out and pixelated compared to the photographs. Competitors are using all photographs and calling it a video tour. Any thoughts, advice, ideas on the subject?

Currently, I'm compressing my Canon m2t files into WMV at 512kbs for easy download, but am considering Flash flv files for easy compatibility worldwide.

Blake
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Old October 13th, 2007, 11:24 AM   #14
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I do not know if this is a good example, but it is what I have done with good results.

In Vegas 7 I render to a .wmv file (usually 720p/30fps/4.8mbps). Then use the Macromedia Flash Encoder with a bit rate of around 1.5kps and the same size. Then when I upload the .flv I can have it any size I want on the web page up to 1280x720. Here is a simple example: http://www.socalspeedzone.com/pages/...nis100707.html
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Old October 16th, 2007, 10:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Duane Steiner View Post
I do not know if this is a good example, but it is what I have done with good results.

In Vegas 7 I render to a .wmv file (usually 720p/30fps/4.8mbps). Then use the Macromedia Flash Encoder with a bit rate of around 1.5kps and the same size. Then when I upload the .flv I can have it any size I want on the web page up to 1280x720. Here is a simple example: http://www.socalspeedzone.com/pages/...nis100707.html
Looked pretty damn good to me Duane... but then again, maybe I'm paying more attention to the cars than the video encoding quality! :)
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