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Old September 29th, 2010, 01:49 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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Workflow order for highest quality DVD?

I am looking for the order and software i need to use to get from point A to point B...

What i'm starting with is minidv tapes from a canon xl1s. This is video of dance on a dark stage - so low light, but fast movement...great, i know. It is recorded in 4:3 NTSC.

The final product needs to be an authored DVD that is the highest quality i can do on a PC with just the purchase of software under $1k.

As far as i can tell, here's what i need to accomplish:

Crop off top and bottom of 4:3, then stretch/enlarge to 16:9.
Trim beginning and end off video (time wise).
Overlay music over the video.
Color correct, sharpen, etc.
Encode to MPEG2.
Author a DVD - menus, etc.

So, my questions:

What would be the best way to get from 4:3 to 16:9 without losing a lot of quality, sharpness, etc? Should i use vegas, or is there some other program that would be better at this that i should use first, then load the resulting video into vegas to color correct, sharpen, etc? Are there better programs to sharpen or color correct than vegas? Is there a "plugin" for vegas that will do any of these better than the stock software?

Does vegas color correct/sharpen the raw AVI file, or does it convert to something else while i'm using it, and make changes to that? Is there a loss of quality at this step?

Should i use vegas to encode to mpeg2 or is there a better program that will encode at a higher quality? How do you go about encoding in a different program - i imagine that vegas would do it easily, but is there a way to get better quality? Is there a "plugin" that will give vegas higher quality?

I was thinking of using DVD architect that comes with vegas to make the there a better program that's going to give me a higher quality result?

I've used simple programs before to get from minidv tapes to dvd (ulead, premiere elements, etc), but i wanted more control over the quality this time...that's why i'm trying to understand how this is normally done... Am i totally off base here, and shouldn't get vegas, but instead should be X, Y, and Z programs?

Thanks in advance...
Stuart McKenna is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 29th, 2010, 05:44 AM   #2
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Location: Chicago, IL
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If it was shot in 4:3 why do you need to change it to 16:9. Not that theres anything wrong with that but why not just keep it 4:3 and be done with it.
Anyway if you want or need to change it do it in Vegas, goto the PAN/CROP icon on the clip use the pull down menu and you have a couple of choices there. Pick your posion but make sure the FIRST keyframe of the P/C timeline is at the beginning of the clip.

Vegas has a very very good Color Correction system, with the CC, Secondary and Curves but for ease and convienience there are plugins like from NewBlueFX and of course Magic Bullet (which will add to render times hughly). For 99% of the work you can use the plugins that come with Vegas.
Vegas is non-destructive so if you do some CC work to "mymovie2" and you have "mymovie1" that you did nothing to and you open that VEG file it will be as you left it. So no it doesn't do anything to the RAW file. Anything you do to the VEG is non destructive BUT be very careful with the "sharpen" filter, it is very easy to go just a bit to far and it will go past the point of helping a slightly soft image and will look like you tried to fix it.

I have been using Vegas to encode to MPG/AC3 for years and frankly it works great. It uses the MainConcept encoder which has always been considered one of the tops in the field. Why leave Vegas to encode? IT ain't gonna get no better :-)

Every year I produce hundreds and hundreds of DVDs in DVDA and have for years. While there are certain things I would like to see in it none of my wedding clients nor any of my corporate clients including Fortune 100 companies have ever had a problem with the quality of the finished DVD. Of course they don't know nor do they care what I use to get them their finished product but DVDA has never failed me. Now I DO sometimes use Photoshop for text and titles and to make menus or just to help finish off a menu but DVDA is my authoring program of choice.

As long as the project you want to burn is encoded properly at the correct bitrate for the length of time the finsihed product will be as good as it can be. Take your time, cut it right, encode it right burn baby burn, play it, enjoy it.
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
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Old September 29th, 2010, 06:08 AM   #3
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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Every so often we see posts asking how to get the "highest quality" dvd.

Stuart, the best way to get a high quality DVD is to start with high quality footage. If the footage was worth the talk of "high quality" it would have been shot properly to begin with. Take your $1000 and put it towards camera gear unless you already have new cameras.

DON'T increase the bitrate when rendering your project like so many do. It doesn't help anything. It will make the DVDs glitchy, however.

When you're taking relatively poor footage, you cannot make it "high quality". The differences between programs when using poor footage is so minimal you should not give it a second thought. This is not great art, this is a dance recital, or whatever. Just burn it and forget it. Move on to the next project.
The horror of what I saw on the timeline cannot be described.

Last edited by Jeff Harper; September 29th, 2010 at 07:06 AM.
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Old September 29th, 2010, 06:28 AM   #4
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If I was starting with 4:3 SD footage, I'd output to 4:3 SD. That will give you the HIGHEST quality. The rest is pretty much as you said, color correct, render to MPEG2/AC3, and author in DVD Architect. If the MPEG2/AC3 files are properly created, DVD Architect will simply use them without having to re-render.

You did not state how long your video is so it's hard to guess a proper bitrate for you. You left out a LOT of variables to take into consideration. For example, what's the reason for trying to go to 16:9. Doing so will immediately reduce your quality as you're having to stretch everything to fill in that new size.
Edward Troxel [SCVU]
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Old September 29th, 2010, 11:20 AM   #5
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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I'll try to answer all questions quickly...

...the reason we want 16:9 is because its dance footage on a stage, and it looks better in 16:9, and the DVDs will most likely be played on widescreen TVs...and it needs to look professional. All the other videos of this type end up 16:9.

The reason its 4:3 is because it was shot on a canon xl1s, which was available free. When it was shot, i made sure the 16:9 guides were on so that it could be cropped later. I could have shot it in 16:9, but all that does is cut the top of the 4:3 chip off in the xl1s, and from quick tests earlier, even with cheap programs, i got better results cropping into 16:9, expanding the video, and playing on a 42" tv than i did just shooting in "16:9" on the camera.

The quality of the video isn't actually that poor - its just hard for any prosumer camera to shoot in a dark theatre where you can't tell them to "turn the lights up a bit." Its in focus and i made sure the highlights aren't overblown, its steady because of a decent tripod, etc. I just know that sometimes using programs like ulead, etc, i would get some noise in the final product, especially in all the black space. BTW, i wish i could use an xl2 that has a "stretch" feature for all the blacks - is there something like this in vegas? Anyways, i'm not as worried about the initial quality for once, i'm worried about messing it up later, but like i said, it needs to be in 16:9, and i know what i'm going to increases the likelihood of degrading the quality. That's why i asked for the best way to get to 16:9 and keeping it the highest quality with software under 1k. I am aware there is software much more expensive, and hardware in the 10s of thousands, etc, that will give "maximum" quality. That's not the budget here.

When i used ulead and premier effects, i did tests on all the different ways to do this given their options, and found that ulead gave me a cleaner final product than premiere effects did. That's why i'm interested in what program is going to give me the best quality in this budget, with a range of options that i didn't get before.

Time is not a problem, that i have a lot of. So if a magic bullet plugin is best, but takes forever, so be it.

Its a 25 minute piece, and we'll also need to include about 7 other minutes in two more clips on the DVD. So 35 minutes max on the DVD, plus menus, etc.

Does this help?

PS. I am interested in using photoshop to create text/titles/ that i know how to exactly do you go about doing this? What size/type file do you output, etc? Is there a tutorial somewhere? I imagine this will give me higher quality, and more range of options than just DVD architect alone...
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Old September 29th, 2010, 01:01 PM   #6
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Start Vegas and change the project type to widescreen DV mode. Then drop the clip onto the timeline. Open up Pan/Crop on the clip, right-click it, and choose "Match Output Aspect. It will then properly fill the widescreen area chopping off the top and bottom.

Now just finish your edit, and render to MPEG2 using the widescreen DVD Architect preset and the audio to AC3. Assemble in DVD Architect and you're done.
Edward Troxel [SCVU]
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