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Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player

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Stacy Formby
Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 5:58:42 pm

I have completed a video in Final Cut Pro for a client who is going to use a computer to play it at a trade show. He says he has Windows Media Player. I am trying to figure out the best codec to convert this to (shot and edited in HDV at 1440x1080) so that he can play it full screen on a 1440x900 monitor. I have Episode and Compressor to work with.

Would a WMV file be the only choice? Because when I encoded using that, the dissolves between scenes are really blocky, even at a high bitrate. Can Windows Media Player play H.264?

Any help appreciated!!



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Craig Seeman
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 6:36:14 pm

Windows Media Player plays . . . . Windows Media. It can play a few other things on Windows boxes but those usually involved 3rd party plugins.

You shouldn't be getting blocky dissolves with a "good" encode but you haven't provide enough info for a meaningful response.

If you're using Episode make sure it's 4.4.2.
Compressor (depending which version) also uses Episode plugin as well as Flip4Mac.

I can do WMV HD encodes with either and they both will look good if your data rate is up around that of a typical DVD encode.

I can't even begin to make suggestions without knowing what he has "Windows Media Player" on.

It should be beefy enough to play WMV HD. As an alternative you could burn a SD widescreen DVD.



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Stacy Formby
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 7:31:21 pm

I've actually been using Episode 4.3.2, I will switch to 4.4.2 if that will give me better results.

I've been playing with the WMV9- Download - HIgh Quality setttings with average rate of 1200 kbit/sec. Should I be able to go higher than this and still have it play back? What doesn't look good is my dissolves between stills. It looks blocky during and right after the dissolves, then resolves itself and looks better.

Or should I use the Windows Media VC-1 settings? I tried a test clip but can't get it to play on my Mac (Quicktime player bombs) so it hard to test it.

I'm emailing him to see what kind of machine it is. I'm sure its a laptop he's taking to the show.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 7:47:32 pm

[Stacy Formby] "I've actually been using Episode 4.3.2, I will switch to 4.4.2 if that will give me better results"
It should. They've improved some things with WMV encoding.


[Stacy Formby] "I've been playing with the WMV9- Download - HIgh Quality setttings with average rate of 1200 kbit/sec. Should I be able to go higher than this and still have it play back? What doesn't look good is my dissolves between stills. It looks blocky during and right after the dissolves, then resolves itself and looks better. "

If the computer playing back the file is fast you can certainly push thing to 6000 to 8000kbps and even higher. I think I've done 15000kbps but you better be sure the playback CPU can handle it. Also with the a higher data rate you could go to 1280x720 frame size. You'd be able to go higher than that if their screen supported it.




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Stacy Formby
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 7:55:38 pm

I'm going to try it at 6000.

He's going to run the screen at 1440x 900. I was going to enocde it at 1920x1080. Perhaps I should encode to 1280x720 ? In Windows Media Player, surely there's a setting to say "fill screen" Right?



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Stacy Formby
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 8:08:04 pm

The PC is based on Windows XP running Windows Media Player Version 11.0.5721.5230. The Display Adapter is an ATI Mobility Radeon X1400.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:22:24 pm

See Microsoft for specs. CPU is important.
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/musicandvideo/hdvideo/choosin...




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Craig Seeman
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 16, 2008 at 9:18:09 pm

Upscaling to fill screen can have impact on quality but on the other hand very large frame size can tax some machines. Certainly doing 1920x1080 might work but I'd really run a test because the demands on the system and data rate needed for good quality smooth frame rate playback are significantly higher than 1280x720.



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Stacy Formby
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 17, 2008 at 3:21:43 pm

Thanks for your help Craig. For some reason my brain wasn't considering upping the bitrate that much! I sent him one at 6000 mbit/sec at 1280x720. Here's hoping it plays, because it really looks good on my machine. The 1920x1080 clips wouldn't play back reliably on my MacPro, so you're right on that score, too much overhead.



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Ben Waggoner
Re: Help! Need codec advice for Windows Media Player
on Apr 19, 2008 at 3:10:59 am

If it's going to be displayed at 1440x900 full-screen, I'd encode at that. Doing 1920x1080 just ups the bitrate, and doing 1280x720 loses some detail.

1440x900 @ 15 Mbps CBR should look pretty darn good. Since you're not trying to distribute on the web, no reason to try to shave the bitrate down.

If you're using Episode, make sure you're using high-quality scaling. And it the source is interlaced, make sure you're using the high-quality deinterlacing modes (it's called motion adaptive or something like that).

Ben Waggoner
Principal Video Strategist, Silverlight
Microsoft Corporation

Compression Blog: on10.net/blogs/benwagg/
Compression Classes at Stanford and PSU: on10.net/blogs/benwagg/21622/


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