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MPEG 2 Compression of High Definition Video: Final Cut Pro

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MPEG 2 Compression of High Definition Video: Final Cut Pro
on Dec 21, 2005 at 6:18:34 pm


I just want to clarify two things first:
1. Is Final Cut Pro 5.0' Compressor 2 absolutely necessary to PROPERLY MPEG2-compress a *High Definition Video*(e.g. 1080i)?
2. Will Compressor 2 actually export this for me, or do I need to get the HD export-plugin for QT 7.0?

Ok, here's my issue with MPEG2 and HD:

Microsoft advertises that the Xbox 360 will understand MPEG 2-compressed Video sent from a Windows Media Center PC, take it, and stream it to a HDTV. But is it streaming a TRUE MPEG2 HD television stream?
For instance, what encoding options must I choose when exporting HD Videos (say from Final Cut Pro using Compressor 2), to ensure that the Xbox 360 has the right Profile/Level MPEG 2 to output a TRUE HD Television Signal? For instance, according to ATSC, MPEG2 is split into different "Profiles" and "Levels"(which corre. to resolutions)
This is extremely important to clarify, especially if the Xbox says it's "into" High Def.
For example, using Compressor 2 in Final Cut Pro 5.0, I can rest-assured that the MPEG2 compression will be CORRECT on my HD video file?
Jack McGee, LSU Physics and Astronomy

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Charles Simonson
Re: MPEG 2 Compression of High Definition Video: Final Cut Pro
on Dec 21, 2005 at 11:40:02 pm

From what I understand, and correct me if I am wrong, the XBox 360 can play back HD MPEG-2 and WMV streams that are stored on a Media Center 2005 PC. When that is displayed, it is displayed at the native resolution plus or minus the resolution that you have the XBox 360 connected to your display. So, if you have 720p stream, and connect to a 720p display through the HD output of the XBox, then you should be viewing the true resolution of the stream. I know the XBox 360 will not upconvert however, so DVDs and other 480p content is only fitted and scaled to match the output resolution.

As far as making these streams, that could be tricky depending on what the Media Center and XBox wants. If, by MPEG-2 HD, MS only means ATSC transport streams are supported, then I don't think Compressor will be able to provide this. If they mean that any MPEG-2 HD Program stream is supported, then Compressor should be able to help. If you need to make ATSC compatible transport streams, then the MainConcept stand-a-lone encoder is great for this.

Another option if all you are looking to do is connect a STB to a computer and stream content to a TV is to get a networked HD DVD player like the one from IOData ($299) or JVC ($399). I have both of these, and I also have a couple of EyeTV 500's and a EyeTV 200. I capture a lot of ATSC and Clear QAM content, and then stream it over my network using ElGato's EyeConnect software ($100; the STBs come with their own software to network with as well, but the mac versions do not support sharing folders outside of the user's home directory) to the players, and watch HD all day long. It also works great for encoding my own content in HD with Windows Media and MPEG-2 and then using the STB as the play back device. And because the STBs have hardware decoders on them, I don't have to worry about dropped frames as long as the bitrate of the encode is under 25Mbps and my network isn't too busy with other traffic.

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Re: MPEG 2 Compression of High Definition Video: Final Cut Pro
on Dec 22, 2005 at 12:09:38 am


Let me display the query I sent to Microsoft to clarify things:


There seems to be a gap in Xbox 360's advertisment of being able to understand MPEG2-compressed video.
What my group wants to do is the following. And we need to know, in writing, whether or not the Xbox 360/Windows Media Center PC combination can deliver:

(1) We computer-generate a High-Definition Video(e.g 1920x1080) on a Mac G5.
(2) We export the HD file using MPEG2 compression in Final Cut Pro 5.0's " Compressor 2 ",which boasts it
can " provide support for enhanced MPEG-2 options for HD-resolution video formats up to
1920x1080, with bit rates up to 29 Mbps."
(3) Then, the "specially" MPEG2-compressed HD movie will be sent to the Windows Media Center Edition PC
(4) We then use Media Center features to "Stream" this movie to the Xbox 360, which is on a 10/100 wired Ethernet Network with out PC

Q1: Will the Xbox 360 be able to understand such a stream?
Q2: Will the Xbox 360 stream that MPEG-compressed HD video to our HDTV *as an HD television signal*
Q3: Does the Xbox know "what to do" to convert the (PCdigital signal) to analogue (Xbox360 HD Component AV Cable) CORRECTLY (to preserve the HD MPEG2-compressed video at highest quality)

O2, you have no idea how hard it is to get certain questions answered about your hardware. It's extremely difficult to pin down the facts. I hope you can help me with this ambiguity! Our research group appreciates any feedback or website pointing you can give us. We want to incorportate Microsoft products in our work, but it's vital that we be sure of the output. The authenticity of it, as advertised.

JMcGee, LSU Physics and Astronomy Undergrad

Simonson, the details in the above post are extremely important. The Xbox advertises "support" for stream HD video formats 720, 1080 etc, yes. But there is a difference between a digital computer signal and an HD television signal. I'm trying to eliminate the ambiguity of the MPEG 2 statement they make, that's all. Those above questions are the ones that really need answering. Nice talking to you again, btw. wearebr.

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Charles Simonson
Re: MPEG 2 Compression of High Definition Video: Final Cut Pro
on Dec 22, 2005 at 6:35:29 am

Q1: Not sure; if it understands all MPEG-2 HD Program streams, you should be in luck with just Compressor. If it only understands raw ATSC MPEG-2 Transport streams, then you may need some help with another app (as I mentioned before, MainConcept; MPEG StreamClip can also take Program streams and mux them into transport streams, so that may work as well). I don't have either a XBox 360 or Media Center 2005 PC, so I can't say for certain.

Q2 and Q3: This I am pretty positive it will. The signal being sent to the display is not considered a computer signal any more than the signal from an HD DVR is considered a computer signal. The analog HD signal your display receives will behave the same as if it came from an HD cable or ATSC STB. Again, my setup is pretty similar except that I use a mac to serve and STB from IOData and JVC to display on my TV. The signal interpretation through the IOData is no less or no greater than if I were using an HD DVR box like the one from Cox cable.

With the uncertainty of it all, I would suggest either purchasing the equipment and trying it yourself (shouldn't set you back too much, and if it doesn't work, you could always return everything) or do what I do and not worry about throwing the PCs into there and stay with the mac by getting a device like the IOData. If you have pletnty of space in your home directory, you could be up and running for less than $250.

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