This is my first post and I have searched the forums for information on my question. I'm sure it's here, but I'm not finding it exactly.
If the destination for my video footage is DVD with its rather high compression rate, does it really make a big difference whether my acquisition footage has the 3.3:1 compression rate of DVCPRO50 as opposed to the 5:1 compression of DV25? I'm thinking that there must be an advantage with acquiring at a lower compression rate in anticipation of ending with DVD, because it seems this is what the pro's do, but I don't understand why. Since I'm sure this is a complicated answer, I would appreciate a recommendation on some reading material (not too long) that I could study to learn more.
You are correct in thinking that the higher quality the source, the better chance an MPEG-2 encoder will have in encoding a high-quality movie. The nature of lossy-compression means that your encoded movie will never look as good as the source, but providing the best option for encoding from can help eliminate artifacts you would otherwise see in a lower quality source.
A couple of questions I would ask myself: First, is what format was the video originally shot in? Second, do I expect the edit to contain a lot of titles, effects, and transitions? If you shot the footage in DV25, and there will be some extensive editing for the project, then there might be some validity in capturing it in a different format, like M-JPEG or Uncompressed 8bit. If you shot it in DVCPRO50, then the only other format it would be worth capturing to is Uncompressed 8bit. The reasoning for this is because of DV25's high compression ratio as you mentioned. When you do a lot of edits and renders to a DV25 project, the quality loses more and more generations. For DVCPRO50, the generational-loss effect is less so, but can still be seen depending on what was done to the project. Of course, with Uncompressed codecs, you need more disk space and better machines for RT, so for some, the cost/benefit ratio isn't high enough to warrant its use in every project.
I saw numerous references to a compression book by Ben Waggoner and read a sample chapter of his book. He's obviously very knowledgable but the book seems very long. Are there any books on the subject that are very good but less than 400 pages - or is the subject so complicated that a newbie has to read that much just to better understand the basics?