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MPEG 1 and Squeeze

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Brian Klein
MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 1, 2006 at 10:51:19 pm

I'm compressing to MPEG1 and I end up with really bad results...

It's a bit strange because I've tried a number of techniques but it seems that the video looks the same no matter what I do (changing data rates, sizes, source files, etc). I'm on a Mac running Squeeze 4.3.3, and OSX 10.4.6. Is there anything weird with QuickTime that might mbe causing this? I'm on version 7.0.4.

Thanks in advance for any help!!!
Brian


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Craig Seeman
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 12:32:11 pm

What's your source and what are your MPEG1 settings. MPEG1 isn't a pretty codec compared to others these days. Is it possible you can move to a better codec?


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Brian Klein
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 2:03:45 pm

This is for a video we updated that eventually lands on CD-Rom, via a Director presentation, and the client doesn't want any of the specs to change because it has worked well for them. We have suggested something like Windows Media or Flash, but they decided aganinst it.

Here's the workflow I'm using:

1. Export from FCP self contained (DVCPRO 50, 720x480i)
2. Bring this into AE and deinterlace using a method found on the Creative Cow site: http://tinyurl.com/e72wm
(All I did was use the files I downloaded from the site, replaced the movie files, and changed the lengths.
3. Scale to 320x240 (also 352x240) and render out progressive to the animation codec (also tried Sorenson 3 at the highest quality, hoping for some wacky reason it would work.)
4. Bring into Squeeze with these MPEG settings:
Method: 2 pass VBR
Data Rate: 770 (and up)
Format: Unspecified (and NTSC)
Frame Size: 320x240 (and 352x240)
Pixel Aspect Ratio: 1.000 Square Pixel
I Frame Rate: 15

There are shots of archeticture where the building lines slant across the screen, and when encoded to MPEG there is some serious stair-stepping like effect going on. I've also tried to bring the source file in and scale it down in Squeeze and I get identical results. Even when increasing the data rate to the likes of 1440Kbps.


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Craig Seeman
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 4:09:49 pm

Have you tried using Compressor2?
I haven't tested it recently but Frame Controls can do very good deinterlacing.
On another recent job I simply used Compressor2 deinterlace filter algorithm Blur and it got ride of stair steps I saw otherwise.
Compression Master might be another way to go. It has a good variety of deinterlace options including those related to motion.
Cleaner has good adaptive deinterlace and I've used Cleaner for MPEG1 but I've been "lucky" since many complain about Cleaner's MPEG1 encodes. I have much to complain about Cleaner but MPEG1 has actually been one of the few things it's done reliably (albeit infrequent use) for me.
Squeeze has somewhat limited deinterlace optons.


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Brian Klein
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 4:53:28 pm

I don't believe the poor results were from deinterlacing issues. I was seeing blocky artifacts on slanty lines from the footage in the video.. not the combing issues you get with interlaced footage. I rendered progressive files from AE, and they looked crystal clear. The progressive files were then encoded through Squeeze.

I have actually re-installed an old copy of Cleaner 5.1.2 that I had long since forgotten about on my system and compressed it using that, which worked. Well, the quality is similar to the original compression I did 3 years ago, but it still doesn't look fantastic, but that's what you deal with when using MPEG 1.

I did try Compressor, but got similar results as Squeeze. That's why I thought maybe it had to do with QuickTime.

Is Squeeze known for good MPEG 1 video? I'm not sure that it is, so I don't know if I should have expected it to perform well. I was surprised to see that Cleaner outperformed Squeeze, though.

One day I will never have to compress to MPEG 1 again, and it will be a good day!


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Craig Seeman
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 7:07:35 pm

[Brian Klein] "I was seeing blocky artifacts on slanty lines from the footage in the video"
It's hard to tell what you're actually seeing but if it's what I think it is, using deinterlace blur in Compressor 2 might help. If what you're seeing is on slanty lines you really should look at deinterlacing and other edge releated processing filters (blurring edges for example). It really depends on what you mean by artifact. It may depend on adjacent colors and luminance levels.

[Brian Klein] "I have actually re-installed an old copy of Cleaner 5.1.2"
I don't remember 5.1.2 specifically (I started with 4 though) but 6 and 6.5 do very good adaptive deinterlacing.

[Brian Klein] "I did try Compressor, but got similar results as Squeeze."
I actually think Compressor can do better deinterlacing than Squeeze.

[Brian Klein] "I don't believe the poor results were from deinterlacing issues."
[Brian Klein] "I was seeing blocky artifacts on slanty lines from the footage in the video.. not the combing issues you get with interlaced footage"
Again I can't tell by your description but there are many ways and algorithms to deinterlacing and each have plusses and minuses depending on the content but you can get nasty things that go beyond combing.

Some, not I, have complained about compatibility issues with Cleaner's MPEG1 encoding.

Good? The result should look good and the file should work as intended in the target application. MPEG1 has its issues. Different compression apps have processing filters to help, many sware by Compression Master (some sware at it though). Don't underestimate the impact deinterlacing algorithms have. There's no single way to do it and even a "best" way may be relative to the content in a given piece.

If you have several apps (Squeeze, Cleaner Compressor, you seem to have) then try them with common settings but take advantage of their unique processing and deinterlace filters to see which will give you the best results. You can just target the area(s) your seeing the "issues" with and you'll have a good idea which can do what. Squeeze has the least flexible deinterlacing if that's the issue (and it may be).




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Johan S
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:31:36 pm

Hi,

Just a reminder, you can allways download a demo of Compression Master at http://www.popwire.com. You will find alot of different tools
in Compression Master that can really make a difference for your transcodings. F.x the de-interlace filter itself offers options like " de-interlace moving areas only and several steps of edge detecting interpolation. Enough said - go see if this app can improve your work

http://www.popwire.com

all best

johan



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Craig Seeman
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 2, 2006 at 10:37:22 pm

Yes Compression Master is very flexible and has many deinterlace options as well as other good processing filters.


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Brian Klein
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 3, 2006 at 3:02:23 pm

So from what I'm reading above, I should use a deinterlacing filter, even if I am working with progressive material? I do all my preprocessing in After Effects, and as I've posted above, I have deinterlaced in After Effects, so I can let the compressing program do what it is meant to do. Compression. The issue I was having probably had more to do with nearby luminance levels or something like that... if the lines in the archeticture were completely horizontal or vertical, I wasn't having any issues, but when the buildings were shot at an angle, the lines in the archeticture were at angles and would look more like stairs instead of a straight line. I guess it's pretty hard to describe without sending stills of what I'm talking about.


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Craig Seeman
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 3, 2006 at 3:33:06 pm

What you're describing sounds like "stair stepping"
Not being an AE person I'm not sure how you're deinterlacing but there are many deinterlace algorithms. The stair stepping you're seeing can very be affected by how you deinterlace. While many NLE and Compositing programs can certainly come with or can be augmented by very sophisticated deinterlace algorithms, you haven't mentioned anything about the deinterlace settings you've used in AE. Did you Interpolate, Duplicate or Blend when you deinterlaced for example? Was there Edge Detection Interpolation. Did you do Adaptive deinterlace?

I think you're better off letting a good compression app like Compression Master unless you have that kind of control in AE. You have to examine your material and make a judgement or do test encodes to determine which one works best in your circumstances.

[Brian Klein] "so I can let the compressing program do what it is meant to do. Compression"
Good compression apps do good deinterlacing. There's good reason why compressionists consider processing filters in the compression app and why some compressionsts own more than one app.


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Charles Simonson
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 7, 2006 at 4:19:51 pm

As it seems you have already discovered, Squeeze is not a good app for deinterlacing or for MPEG-1 (or MPEG-2 for that matter) encoding. I really do think your issues could be solved with either Compression Master (very good MPEG-1) or MainConcept (if you look at my many previous posts, you will see that Squeeze does license the Mainconcept encoder in their app but does a terrible job implementing it).


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Brian Klein
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 7, 2006 at 4:36:31 pm

From Charles Simonson: I really do think your issues could be solved with either Compression Master (very good MPEG-1) or MainConcept (if you look at my many previous posts, you will see that Squeeze does license the Mainconcept encoder in their app but does a terrible job implementing it).

Brian Klein: I don't doubt that Compression Master or MainConcept would be a better route. Unfortunately, I do not have these programs, and I do not plan on doing much, if any MPEG 1 in the future... not that it would be bad to have Compression Master as another tool. So what is wrong with the way Squeeze implements the MainConcept encoder?

I really do not think the issues I was having had to do with interlacing or deinterlacing. It's hard to describe what the compression artifacts look like through these posts. I could post a movie somewhere of pre and post movies to prove it. I thought maybe there might be some weird QT bug in the release I had... it seems these kind of issues pop up now and again.

Thanks to all for all the thoughts and advice!



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Charles Simonson
Re: MPEG 1 and Squeeze
on Aug 7, 2006 at 10:54:07 pm

Brian Klein wrote:So what is wrong with the way Squeeze implements the MainConcept encoder?
Technically, that is a question for Sorenson to answer. All I can tell you is that if you were to encode the same source with as comparable settings as you can get between the two apps, the one encoded by MainConcept would look better almost 100% of the time. And this has nothing to do with deinterlacing, this is just a subjective comment from the core encoding capabilities of each.


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