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Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression

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Lee Burrows
Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Dec 14, 2005 at 10:09:03 pm

Hi...I'm Lee and I am a compression misfit:)

Seriously guys/gals I have been compressing for like the last six months with Compressor, Compressor 2 and Bit Vice and for the life of me can't get anything that holds up quality wise. The cow has been great in solving problems in the past and have helped to an extent but I have still not burned a DVD that holds up yet. So I figured I'd try this. I am not trying to become a compression master...I am happy just being an editor that understands compression. I'd just like to create a simplistic workflow that allows me to produce nice looking DVD's and not ones that don't look much better than VHS. So here is a common scenario for me. I would like to know the best workflow to create the HIGHEST quality MPEG2 that I can to playback on a DVD. I don't care about file size or length of the compression. I'll be indebted to anyone that can help me work this out.

Current workflow-HDV sequence with HDV captured 1440X1080 ftg mixed in with computer 3D graphics of Animation(1980X1020), Photo-JPEG(1920X1080) and HDV(1440X1080) codecs.

My other 2 most common sequences that my workflow begins in are Blackmagic NTSC-Jpeg(Photo-Jpeg) & DV NTSC. I don't know if you would recommend a different process for these 2 but if so then I would be indebted to know these answers as well. I would hope that the compression would be pretty much the same in these based on what quality level you want.

Here's an example of my how I go and still get bad results. I finish my FCP (HDV, Blackmagic NTSC-Jpeg and DV NTSC)Sequence and then export to Compressor 2. The only thing that ever changes is when I work in an HDV sequence it will not let me export directly from the sequence claiming that I have not selected any media. So I have to take the extra step of exporting as a quicktime movie reference file to bring into compressor 2. I will then select Best Quality 90 minute 4:3 or 16:9 depending on the aspect ratio I need. I then have been assuming that for the highest quality I have been selecting GOP-IP and I have tried both 2-PASS VBR and Constant Bit Rates of anywhere from 7.0 to 8.0 with not much difference in results. I have tried all the GOP settings as well.

FYI - I've have tried dumping out my HDV sequence out to the deck and bringing it back in as a DV clip. I would then compress the 720X480 DV clip without any better results. The best results that I have come to find in all of my testing is bumping the HDV sequence up to uncompressed 8-bit or animation, rendering and then going through compressor or bitvice. BitVice gives me a little better results but nothing to write home about. I'm not opposed to using BitVice but would prefer to stay within the Apple workflow and just export through Compressor unless BitVice is the answer.

I have researched all of the forums and sites to I'm about blue in the face and have tried various things that have helped from many of the members. So thanks to everyone that has helped me or someone else that I have been able to take there suggestion for myself. I am just looking to get over that last hump!

It is not like it is unviewable but that I would like for it to look as good as it does in the sequence in FCP or at least 80-90% close. Right now to us it looks like it takes such a hit that it is like 60% is good as it was in the FCP sequence and only like 10% better than vhs if that:( Is there some hidden secret that I am missing in software compression that could get me over that remaining hump or am I stuck viewing similiar quality to vhs?

Thanks in advance for everything!

Lee





G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.0 GHz
FCP 4.5 HD
XServe Raid 1 Terabyte

G5 Mac OS X
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FCP 5.02 Studio
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Lee Burrows
Re: Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Dec 20, 2005 at 5:56:20 pm

Hi all! I solved part of my problem and did something I yet to seen posted or shared. So her is what I did to go from HDV sequence to SD DVD and it held up pretty well.

I exported my HDV sequence via QT conversion in the H.264 codec. Yes I know its for true HD but its handles the HDV the best. I even let it resize my sequence instead of doing it in compressor to 720X480 however looking back it might be a little better letting compressor resize it. I did many tests and this came out the best from an HDV sequence. I tried everything from HDV to animation codecs, to bringing it out of my FCP edited sequence back to my Sony HDV deck and back in with a down conversion to DV 720X480 and all had similiar results of either bad artifacting or strobing or field issues in the graphics. This codec did it. Try and see for yourself but if you are working in an HDV 1080i sequence and need an SD DVD this is the way to go...SO FAR! I'd still like to see the quality better but in fact I'd like to see the quality better from Blackmagic NTSC-Jpeg, DV, etc... codecs to DVD but have yet to come up with something that I'm happy with.

Thank you to everyone for their input.

Happy Holidays

Lee

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.0 GHz
FCP 4.5 HD
XServe Raid 1 Terabyte

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.3 GHz
FCP 5.02 Studio
G-Tech G Raid 500 GBs
2 - Lacie Drives 200 GBs


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Charles Simonson
Re: Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Dec 21, 2005 at 12:06:03 am

So I'm confused... are you saying that the final output you have is H.264, or did you go from HDV to H.264 and then to MPEG-2? Could you please detail your process further and specify what the framerate was? Thanks.

If you are working in HDV and higher, then the downconversion Compressor 2 would have done to DVD resolution should have been very good, at least in my experience. I'd be very interested in seeing a short piece of the source sequence and testing this if you're interested.



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Lee Burrows
Re: Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Dec 27, 2005 at 3:42:34 pm

Charles,

Sorry I'm just getting back to you. Holidays and all! Yes the route I took was from HDV to H.264 via quicktime conversion adjusting all the settings to the best and then finally to mpeg2 through comprpessor 2 with my GOP setting to IP.

I did straight from FCP HDV sequences through compressor and got crap results especially involving the graphics. This process was by far the best. I'd be happy to show you but it may be a few weeks as I'm in the midst of a project and there isn't much daylight at the end of the tunnel just yet. Check it out for yourself and compare and you should see for yourself. I outlined what type of graphics that mixed in with my HDV footage in the original post of this blog. Please let me know what you discover. I'm interested in feedback.

Good Luck!

Lee

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.0 GHz
FCP 4.5 HD
XServe Raid 1 Terabyte

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.3 GHz
FCP 5.02 Studio
G-Tech G Raid 500 GBs
2 - Lacie Drives 200 GBs


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jlhutchins
Re: Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Jan 13, 2006 at 5:55:17 pm

I am having the same problem, I am getting ready to try your method. Do you have any new suggestions?
Thanks
jlhutchins


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Lee Burrows
Re: Dummies guide to mpeg2 SD DVD compression
on Jan 13, 2006 at 9:12:55 pm

Hey. There isn't anything I would recommend different other than maybe letting compressor resize the frame size for you to 720X480 instead of during the QT Conversion. If you are working with graphics in the animation codec mixed in with your HDV then I think that this way will work best. Thats what I feel this method helped the most along with holding up the quality of the HDV. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. Good Luck.

Also do you have any suggestions for me in getting Blackmagic NTSC Photo-jpeg and dv codecs out to SD DVD maintainingtheir quality? Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks

Lee

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.0 GHz
FCP 4.5 HD
XServe Raid 1 Terabyte

G5 Mac OS X
Dual 2.3 GHz
FCP 5.02 Studio
G-Tech G Raid 500 GBs
2 - Lacie Drives 200 GBs


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