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What Happens in Vegas...
...stays in Vegas! This PC-based editing app is a safe bet with these tips.


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Old May 25th, 2008, 12:10 AM   #1
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Better quality

When I monitor the vision straight out of the DVCAM player during ingest, it always looks a hell of a lot better quality than after rendering to DVD - even with a high bit rate (9.8Mbps)

Any ideas?

Ben
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Old May 25th, 2008, 10:19 AM   #2
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I don't have the exact answer for you. Are you rendering using a DVD architect template?

Also, as you watch the footage as it downloads in the preview window, I don't know why it does appear clearer and more perfect. I always guessed it had to do with the fact that you are watching digital video on a compter screen, which as a higher resolution than a SD TV. You will notice the same thing if you render to .avi. Unfortunately it cannot have the same clarity on a SD television

I would also suggest that using the higher bit rate doesn't improve the appearance, and when making DVDs using too high bit rate only cause issues with DVD players. I have learned this the hard way.

For best quality, I would suggest trying two-pass instead.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:08 AM   #3
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Ben, due to the compression and transcoding involved, there's no way a DVD can ever look as good as the source footage.
DV-AVI (and HDV) is (approx.) 13 GB/hr.
A single layer DVD can only hold 4.3 GB. so something has to give and that's overall quality.
Having said that, if your source material was shot with a good (1/2") 3 chip camera and you paid attention to the lighting, the DVD can look pretty good.

edit: Jeff is right about using too high a bitrate. Stick to a max of 8,000,000 and good blank media like Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim and you shouldn't have playback problems.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for that.

The file came to about 8.5Gb when rendered to .avi
8Mbps two pass; it is then..

Many thanks
Ben
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Old May 26th, 2008, 04:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Longden View Post
When I monitor the vision straight out of the DVCAM player during ingest, it always looks a hell of a lot better quality than after rendering to DVD - even with a high bit rate (9.8Mbps)

Any ideas?

Ben
Ben, when I use to render to a .avi it came out similar to what your talking about.

For best quality, render to MPEG-2 and AC-3 from Vegas.

After selecting MPEG-2, click the "Custom" button next to the template box and then click the "Video" tab. Use a CBR of 8,000,000 or a VBR of 8,000,000 /, 8,000,000 / 4,800,000.

Give both files the same name (i.e. myvideo.mpg & myvideo.ac3) and render them to the same folder.
That way, when you load the video file into DVD Architect, the audio will follow automatically.

After changing the numbers, you can save it as a template if you want to .
Enter a new name in the Template box at the top of this tab and click the "Save Template" button (looks like a floppy disc).

This helped me a lot. After I started doing this the quality of my DVDs went up drastically.

Credits go to Mike Kujbida.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 05:38 AM   #6
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Thanks for the credit Oliver.
Keep in mind that, if your project is over 70 min., you'll need to use a bitrate calculator to determine proper settings.
Here's a link to the one I use.
Note that this links to a zipped file.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:49 AM   #7
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Hi,

I have never been satisfied with the final DVD quality (sharpness), rendered with Vegas/DVDA. This independent of whatever the source material is -eihter DV(AVI) or HDV(M2T).

I know that sharp AVI might and shoud look better than something re-encoded, especially when movement is involved.

But come on. If I compare an DV(AVI) clip directly - with a renderend DVD (with all settings at the BEST) - the AVI always wins. There is no doubt wich is wich. In my comparison setup, the video goes directly from the CAM and the DVD-player (PAL50i) into a Sony 14 inch CRT studio quality monitor, just using a standard composite video cable. The monitor has an A/B switch for fast and easy comparison. The composite (PAL) standard also places some limits by itself, but even via this interface the difference is very clear.

And this is true even for STILL images, without any movement. One would assume that MPG2 has the same spatial resolution and details as the original material, if there is no movement and there is enoug time for lots of GOPS to pass. It does not seem to be the case. Or then there is something wrong in the render quality. Believe me, I have experimented with ALL settings...

Final DVD:s look so much softer. I know that commercially available DVD's do not originate from prosumer sources, but the softness is still there even if I use HDV material as the source!!! And that is, originating from material that has a fantastic sharpness at the source level, comparable or even better as in professional SD cams. And if SD is so bad to beging with, why doe's the MPEG endcoding ruin it even furhter so that you clearly can see the difference?

Qualityvice -Vegas is a Pro (and DVDA) application after all, or is it? I fear that the quality limitations are related to the bundled codecs... "Professional" ones are so expensive that SCS has not been able to bundle those at this price level?

Should I be concerned about this if I'm slowly moving into the HD direction? Probably yes, since there are still a hube number of SD projects that must be processed with the best possible quality.

Christian
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Old May 26th, 2008, 10:00 AM   #8
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Christian, keep in mind that fact that there is a minimum of 3:1 compression (13 GB. to 4.3 GB.) going on to convert one hour of DV-AVI to MPEG-2 for a single-layer DVD.
When that happens, something has to give and colour information is the unfortunate victim.

DV-AVI has a 4:1:1 colour space, stills and generated media are 4:4:4 and MPEG-2 is 4:2:0.
See Adam Wilt's site here and here for a good explanation of these numbers.
When you render to AVI and then to MPEG-2, you're going from 4:4:4 (or 4:1:1) to 4:1:1 and then to 4:2:0.
By rendering directly to MPEG-2, you're going from directly from 4:4:4 (or 4:1:1) to 4:2:0 and bypassing the intermediate codec transformation loss.

I know that some Vegas users prefer other DVD authoring apps such as TMPGEnc and Cinema Craft.

The advent of Blu-ray and the authoring capabilities promised in the soon-to-be-released updates to Vegas & DVDA do hold promise for people such as yourself who are very concerned about final image quality.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 01:50 AM   #9
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Hi,

Thank's Mike for your valid comments. I have to apologize for using misleading words in my statement (english is not my mother tongue).

When I mentioned "still" images, I actually meant a video stream (DV/AVI) where the cam is on a tripod and there is no movement in the picture. Such a "still" stream should decode with the best possible quality in the mpeg2 process.

You are completely right, the colour information is the first victim in this encoding process. Hovewer, the luminace bandwidth should not be limited (the mpeg2 standard has the same horizontal resolution as the DV original), and to my understanding it's the luma that carry the information of details we perceive. I a stationary video stream the luminance spatial frequency should be retained quite well...

And remember - DV PAL is 4:2:0 - as well as the Mpeg-2, that I render to!!!

In theory there should be only a minimal loss due to this coding scheme, assuming stationary video stream with no movement of the picture from frame to frame.

Even the best possible source material must undergo the conversion to DVD Mpeg2. So - if the source material is good enough one would assume that it is possible to achieve similar results (as on commercial DVD's) with Vegas Pro!

There must be some (quality?) reasons why some people prefer other codecs, as you pointed out?! What is the truth about the Vegas Mpeg-2 codec quality?

Since I don't have other codecs I cannot make a comparison. Are there some freeware codecs that produce better results that I could experiment with? How much does a professional mpeg2-codec set you back?

Blue-ray authoring is a thing I'm waiting for, but it has nothing to do with DVD, neither will it improve the DVD authoring. Or does 8.0c bring some improvement here too?

Christian
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Old May 27th, 2008, 09:00 AM   #10
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Christian, your use of the English language is nothing to apologize for as I think you're doing a great job of it.

Let me say up front that I don't pretend to understand all the intricacies of MPEG-2 encoding. I've tried to go through engineering papers and all they did was make my head hurt :-)

It's my understanding that PAL 4:2:0 is not the same as the 4:2:0 that MPEG -2 uses. Don't ask me for the differences as, once again, I don't understand it.

I've always found the Vegas MPEG-2 codec to give me acceptable results.
As I said, there are other users who use products such as Cinema Craft that I mentioned (cheap version is $60.00, expensive one is $1,950.00), mainly because it offers the ability to do multiple passes (up to 10?) to squeeze every last bit of detail possible - and this isn't the most expensive encoder out there either.
I've been to post-production houses in my area that do film transfers and it's amazing. The operator has the ability to set any kind of correction necessary (gamma, colour, etc.) on a clip-by-clip basis and save it for future use.
The only drawback is the (roughly) $20,000.00 or more price tag for high-end packages.

I'm sure Sony could get more quality out of DVD Architect but are we willing to pay the price? For most users, my guess is no.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 09:24 AM   #11
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Sonic Foundry/Sony (and Adobe and Ulead and...) have always used third-party MPEG-2 encoders and often all three were using the same one (e.g., Main Concept), so this isn't a Vegas-only issue. TMPEGenc is a really nice external solution, but I wouldn't say that it is dramatically better than Main Concept (if it's really better at all - all things being equal, which is just about impossible to do!). And besides better source material, Hollywood does pay someone to baby a movie through the compression process, dropping I frames here, tweaking a setting there.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 09:32 AM   #12
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Don't forget that DV uses full-frames whereas MPEG-2 does not. It not only uses spatial compression, but temporal as well... and in a lossy format (like MPEG), this is, well, not good.

The best advice I've picked up or worked out is along the lines of shoveling back the tide; pick your battles and know when to run. Or if you prefer marketplace metaphors; it's a barter system... give something up to get something else.

On the output render to MPEG2 I have a plugin chain that's slowly evolved... currently:

1) anything near black, make it full-black because its info no-one wants to see anyway... giving it up allows more data to be spent on mid and upper range content, which people do want to see. I use Black Restore in Vegas set to 0.015, some go higher, depends on content.

2) use mild sharpening: it adds a bit of edge to (hopefully) compensate for the softening that'll occur and slightly heightens the contrast, which again reduces (very slightly) the amount of info per frame. I use Unsharp Mask with Amount of 0.100 and Radius of 0.010... again it varies on content.

3) some people apply vertical chroma-blur/smoother on the output chain as well. I don't find much benefit from this, probably because the content I work with is progressive as is the output. (or i'm incorrectly applying it)

4) i usually have a Color Corrector filter in the output chain (Computer RGB to Studio RGB preset) as the content i work with is often RGB... you may not need this.

5) Use the preset "DVD Architect PAL video stream" as a starting point; you'll have to render the Audio separately. I use 7,500,000 CBR when possible. If I need more room, I use VBR Two-Pass setting with reduced amount for the Average bps. For the audio, I use WAV unless space is required; then I go to AC3, which does a good job (not so great if music is the focus).

~

I'm in NTSC-land so faster motion will track better than PAL, but on a frame-by-frame basis you've got the advantage in terms of info preserved.

Regarding "better codecs", the MainConcept codec provided in Vegas is quite good. They have one on their site you can buy for around $500 I believe... but I have no experience using it or the other codecs mentioned in the topic.
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Old May 27th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #13
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Hi,

Surely I'm not ready to pay 20 grand for a professional quality Mpeg-2 encoder!!! Probably very few are that packed...

Neither should Vegas Pro be called Pro - if the last link in the chain doesn't stand up to the touted "Pro" standard...

Such a waste of effort - especially if you ruin your work that aims for best (professional) quality DVD output, and the final encoding is not Pro MPG-2.

If anyone has some hard proof of about quality difference (compared to VegasPro), please let me know wich mpeg2 encoder to try next! Again - do not even dream to suggest the 20K$ version is the best ;)

Your chain is just as good as its weakest link. I am not the only one complaining about surprisingly soft DVD renders, so there might be a general interest to get some hard facts or A/B comparison results.

Rob- what do you think about the need to do all this tweaking - just to TRY to PRESERVE the original quality (omitting proper RGB2STUDIO level conversions)??? This does not feel right, even if I understand that you might achieve some visible difference this way,

rgrds,

Christian
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Old May 27th, 2008, 10:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian de Godzinsky View Post
Rob- what do you think about the need to do all this tweaking - just to TRY to PRESERVE the original quality (omitting proper RGB2STUDIO level conversions)??? This does not feel right, even if I understand that you might achieve some visible difference this way...
well it sucks far as i'm concerned. but whatcha gonna do?

on Premiere i have timeline glitches that make me wanna throw the computer out the window (not that i have one), FCP gives me headaches with the arbitrary way it interprets gamma values in media, Vegas has the most surreal floating-point i've ever encountered (give me 16bit filtering and 10bit video plz), and Media100 made me dream of four-foot aspirins (tho i was fairly newbie at the time, perhaps i'm being unfair to that one)

the problem lies with MPEG-2 encoding more than the NLE. they spend large amounts of money in places like Hollywood to get those nice-looking DVD's. there are people using very expensive hardware who do this and nothing else.

choosing an NLE = pick your poison... how do you prefer to suffer? i prefer Vegas... but it all boils down to feature-sets. Vegas doesn't do everything i need, but it gets most of the work done.

good luck!
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Old May 27th, 2008, 10:36 AM   #15
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Avid Media Composer is now available for Student Discount for $295. How is the encoding with Avid? Any better?
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