I've been publishing my comedy group's videos online regularly for the past few years. We used to use the Sorenson 3 codec (naturally), but with the advent of video iPods and H.264's low installation base, we've switched to MPEG-4. However, I've found that I have to keep the bitrate for MPEG-4 much higher when compressing via Quicktime to achieve an acceptable quality. (Generally around 1000-1500 kbps for DV source, 320x240 resolution.)
Thus, my question: What's the best compression engine (or application) for converting DV to MPEG-4 for the Mac? Discreet Cleaner? Squeeze? Or am I better off with just Quicktime? (I should note that I want to keep delivering my videos via Quicktime container files, not in MP4 files.)
I find Quicktime and Compressor make ugly MPEG4 (part 2 . . . but nice part 10 - H.264).
Cleaner and Quicktime 7.1 don't get along and last I tested will fail on making an MPEG4
Both Squeeze and Compression Master make good MPEG4 but without processing filters, I find they look very different (both good though). Seems the default gamma is different. In both those apps you'll get much nicer looking MPEG4 at lower data rates than Compressor/Quicktime.
For MPEG-4 Part 10 (AVC, H.264 and compatible with iPod), I would use Compressor. A good two pass encode shouldn't require more than 400-600kbits, especially if scaling from 720x480 to 320x240 and deinterlacing. For MPEG-4 Part 2 (QT6 and compatible with iPod and PSP), I would recommend Compression Master. Using CM, I never need to go above 800-1000kbits at 368x208.