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Best CODEC for Watchout

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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 14, 2011 at 6:43:32 am

Hi folks, I've got to output a 1920x1080 50fps presentation via Watchout. This 1920x1080 frame will then be split into two sequences, each running at 1856x384. IOW, the 1856x384 sequences will be stacked atop each other within a 1920x1080 file that we will submit to the Watchout system.

The folks running the Watchout system have asked for an MPEG2 file at with CBR at 25Mbits/ps.

My question here is why not H264?

Additionally, they have asked for a lossless version via QT Animation so that they can perform the compression on their end should any issue crop up within the file that we submit.

My question here is - does Watchout have a builtin encoder? And if it does, how does it compare to Procoder or Telestream?

TIA
RoRK

AE Training in South East Asia. AE templates for sale and rental. Click here for more


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Thomas Leong
Re: Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:32:48 am

does Watchout have a builtin encoder?

No. It has a built-in Elecard MPEG-2 Decoder.

Recommended encoders for Watchout are TMPGEnc or Procoder. Not sure of Telestream.
Another recommendation is to set the encoder to 'All I-frames' with 'Closed GOP'. Walter should be able to confirm this recommendation as he uses Watchout.

H264 is not recommended because it is too processor intensive on decoding, and Watchout may be needed to do other things simultaneously whilst the video is running (backgrounds, animated framing, etc). Again, Walter should be able to confirm.

Thomas Leong



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Walter Soyka
Re: Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 14, 2011 at 3:14:27 pm

[Thomas Leong] "Another recommendation is to set the encoder to 'All I-frames' with 'Closed GOP'."

I do used closed GOP for MPEG2 encoding for WATCHOUT, but I generally stay away from forcing all I-frames -- and in Roland's case here, a data rate of 25 Mbps is way too low for good-looking 1920x1080p50 I-frame MPEG2.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 14, 2011 at 3:04:12 pm

[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Hi folks, I've got to output a 1920x1080 50fps presentation via Watchout. This 1920x1080 frame will then be split into two sequences, each running at 1856x384. IOW, the 1856x384 sequences will be stacked atop each other within a 1920x1080 file that we will submit to the Watchout system. The folks running the Watchout system have asked for an MPEG2 file at with CBR at 25Mbits/ps. My question here is why not H264?"

H.264 support is new with WATCHOUT v4, and it's not yet as robust as MPEG2 playback.

I know that some WATCHOUT users are using ProRes-encoded Quicktime movies successfully. It's not one WATCHOUT's preferred media formats (MPEG2, WMV, Quicktime Animation codec, and now H.264), but it works well.

I prefer MPEG2 for loops or pre-split seamless blends because it's decoded natively in WATCHOUT, its resource requirements are low, and its sync across the cluster is very reliable.


[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Additionally, they have asked for a lossless version via QT Animation so that they can perform the compression on their end should any issue crop up within the file that we submit. My question here is - does Watchout have a builtin encoder? And if it does, how does it compare to Procoder or Telestream?"

Thomas is right. WATCHOUT does not have a built-in encoder.

When I'm designing a WATCHOUT show, I usually prefer to do my own compression, too. Like you, Roland, I use professional-grade compression tools like Episode and ProCoder. I don't assume that I'll get clean encodes from my clients, so I ask for mastering-quality delivery whenever possible.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 15, 2011 at 4:01:58 am

Many thanks for the replies, Thomas and Walter.

Based on the answers, I assume that the WMV support doesn't include the AVC-1 variant. Is this a correct?

Which is a better tool for MPEG2 encoding - Procoder or Episode?

What would be the optimal bitrate for 1080 streams and SD. The 1080 file will be split into two different 1856x384 streams while the SD will be a dedicated stream.

Lastly, the producer has asked for 60p playback for all streams. IS this is a good idea? Of note is that source footage will include a few clips sourced from a DVD as well as PMW-EX3 and GoPro cams.

The Watchout will only be in place approx. 10 days before the event, which is about 5 weeks away. Ideally I can get over as many technical issues before the Watchout system is in place.

TIA
RoRK

AE Training in South East Asia. AE templates for sale and rental. Click here for more


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Walter Soyka
Re: Best CODEC for Watchout
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:57:19 pm

[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Based on the answers, I assume that the WMV support doesn't include the AVC-1 variant. Is this a correct?"

I haven't tried it, but it should. WATCHOUT can use DirectShow or Quicktime for playback, though it specifically handles decoding of Animation-codec Quicktime and MPEG2 with internal decoders.


[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Which is a better tool for MPEG2 encoding - Procoder or Episode?"

I own and use both, but I prefer Episode for its workflow. I have been very satisfied with the encoding results from both products.


[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "What would be the optimal bitrate for 1080 streams and SD. The 1080 file will be split into two different 1856x384 streams while the SD will be a dedicated stream."

WATCHOUT is a software system -- it doesn't specify hardware. As a result, the performance of one WATCHOUT system to another can vary depending on its configuration. I would try the AV vendor's recommendation of 25 Mb/s first. If you're not happy with the results, try a higher rate and test it with the playback system. For your reference, Blu-ray's maximum video bit rate is 40 Mb/s.

In general, WATCHOUT systems are not bandwidth-constrained, so you should be able to push the data rates pretty high -- just make sure to schedule tests on the WATCHOUT display cluster.


[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "Lastly, the producer has asked for 60p playback for all streams. IS this is a good idea? Of note is that source footage will include a few clips sourced from a DVD as well as PMW-EX3 and GoPro cams."

Sure -- some content really benefits from higher frame rates, and WATCHOUT handles it easily and transparently.


[Roland R. Kahlenberg] "The Watchout will only be in place approx. 10 days before the event, which is about 5 weeks away. Ideally I can get over as many technical issues before the Watchout system is in place."

If you are doing the encoding, I would be prepared with a few encode passes at various quality levels/bitrates. If you test them, and any prove to be problematic, you can immediately fall back to a lower bitrate encode.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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