I generally use the Adobe Media Encoder, and it has worked fine for me. My current project is extending beyond 1.5 hours on a DVD, and I have concerns about quality.
I have read in a few threads about using other mpeg creators, and then bringing those into Encore. Specifically, AVISynth and HC Encoder. I infer that it does a better job encoding, and thus should allow me to add move video on a disk.
I did find this thread:
I'll check out the encoder in that thread, but any tips and warnings about gotchas would be appreciated. I am using Premiere to create the video with NTSC DV footage as the source material.
I imagine I'll need to output it to some high quality lossy format before encoding since a 1.5 hour video of uncompressed AVI would likely blow up my hard drive. I guess that is part of my concern, typically, the less conversions done on the video, the better, but I also realize I may hit Adobe's compressor limitations.
The only gotchas I can think of is that when you use an external mpeg2 encoder, the chapter markers do not transfer over. Besides that, everything should work just as expected.
When using HC Encoder and a high bitrate, the FOX1 color matrix looks much better than the default (less blockiness).
it looks like I'll just use the HCEncoder GUI, and thus not need the AVISynth tool.
Any recommendations on the output file settings I should use in Premiere to then bring into HCEncoder? Uncompressed AVI, while ideal, would likely crater my hard drive. I do see Quicktime, but it seems to only offer DV compression, which I think may be too lossy.
Export as mpeg2 i-frame, 100 mbps.
Use DGIndex to create a d2v file for HC Encoder. If you are using HD footage, I highly recommend using avisynth and the methods in this article:
You might be particularly interested in the video tutorial of this process recorded by Jeff Bellune here:
In the tutorial, it walks you through the steps of exporting to mpeg2 i-frame from Premiere.
Thanks again for the response and for pre-answering some questions I had not reached (e.g. I didn't realize I needed DGIndex).
This is old family video on 720x480 DV, so I haven't crossed the HD bridge, yet. I'll check out those links, though. I must admit that I am surprised I export to mpeg2 out of Premiere. I guess that is a pretty high quality mpeg2, then HCEncoder shrinks it with very little loss. I play around with it.
Just a follow up in case others want to do this.
Yes, my concerns were validated. The Adobe encoder had some serious compression artifacts due to the size of this video (95 minutes on a single layer DVD). It is smart enough to use just about all of DVD in its attempt to maximize quality, so my video was a bit over 4GB with about 500MB of AC3 audio.
The HCEncoder produced improved output in less space. My first attempt was a 2.6GB video file. Since I still saw some artifacts (ripples on a lake and some text scrolling across a busy/moving background were the most problematic) I used an online bitrate calculator to change some of my compression parameters and traded file size for quality. My end result was a 3.6GB video file, so even with the audio, I was still under the 4.7GB limit.
This is what I did, and thank you Jon for pointing me in the right direction.
From Premiere I encoded in the video to an mpeg2 100 bit i-stream. Since my source was not HD I started with the "NTSC DV High Quality" MPEG2 preset. I maxed the quality to 5 and changed the Bitrate Encoding to CBR, but my max bit rate was capped at 15. I also had to change the Profile to High and the Level to High - this then allowed me to change the max bitrate to 100. No audio encoding for this pass and added to render queue.
Saved the audio of the movie as a WAV file. Added to render queue and then rendered out the audio and video.
Next was the DGIndex app. Launched DGIndex. Opened my new mpeg file. Saved my file and let the app do its job. I did not tweak anything. This created a .d2v file.
Next was the HCEncode app. I used the GUI interface. I clicked on the buttons on the lower right and it automatically found the AVIsynth program I had installed and the DGDecode (part of DGIndex) program as well. I then set the input, output, and log files from the buttons on the top left. I changed some of the options, such as changing the aspect ratio to 4:3, profile to best, and, later, I changed the avg and max bitrates. In one of the tabs there was a place for interlacing options, I left it at auto-detect, but I also hit the BFF (for lower/bottom field first, since I was using DV footage and making a DVD). Not sure if that was needed, but my file came out okay. On the matrix tab I changed the matrix to FOX1 as suggested by Jon. I hit Encode and off it went.
Finally, Encore was launched and I just added the final mpeg file and the audio (wav) file to the timeline. Created my menu and built the DVD. Encore did not try to re-encode the video file, as expected.
One mistake I made was that I made an mpg through HCEncode and then went back to Premiere and added some more video, so my 100Mb i-stream mpg got larger. Well, HCEncode has a memory of what was done last time, and I didn't click the button 'all frames' to update that count. I thought it would automatically update that field to my new video source's length. It didn't and my next attempt was cropped. Running HCEncode again and clicking that button generated the proper file.
Not sure if I need/want to go through this process every time, but it really did allow me to cram more video at a higher quality than Encore.