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John Farrell
Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:04:43 pm

Wanted to check in for feedback from anyone who's used the Studio Pro version of Flip4Mac ($199) and if it's worth the money. I need to do some VBR hi-res Windows Media on OS X, but not sure whether there are cheaper tools out there that are just as good....

John Farrell
"Digital Movies With QuickTime Pro"
http://www.charlesriver.com/titles/digitalmoviesQT.html


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:38:45 pm

I think you mean Studio Pro HD at $179.

http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv.htm

I think it's the best Mac WMV encoder for the price. The HD version can do WMV HD at very high data rates using 2 Pass VBR. The Pro (non HD) version can do 1 Pass VBR "Quality" passed encoding (just as WME does as on Windows). That can hit very hi data rates too but you can't target a specific date rate (that's how 1 Pass VBR works on Windows too) and it doesn't do HD frame sizes. Studio Pro (non HD) is $99.

You can use Flip4Mac in Compressor and Squeeze too if you want the processing filter controls. Episode does great WMV too but that's in a much higher price bracket.

Some people use VisualHub but it uses the old Windows Media 8 codec so it really can't touch Flip4Mac for quality vs efficiency but it's very cheap at $23. I wouldn't consider it a "Pro" tool by any stretch. It's a good low budget convenience tool though.



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John Farrell
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:42:47 pm

Thanks, Craig. Yes--I meant the $179 Pro HD. Good to know. I just wanted to get some testimony from an expert before shelling out the $$.

I appreciate it!

John Farrell
"Digital Movies With QuickTime Pro"
http://www.charlesriver.com/titles/digitalmoviesQT.html


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Ed Ramsey
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 4:58:25 pm

Hi John.

I used the pro version for HDV and DV edited by Final Cut Express then to compressor transcoded to windows media for 90-minute classroom videos (11 so far) that had to be good enough quality to see the speaker, a large marker board and a projected screen at the same time. I finally ended up moving to Episode, and now can nail the quality I want in a reasonable timeframe (~3 hours on a new 2.6 macbookpro w/high-speed external firewire 800 drives)

A lot of my early problem was that compressor made the process slow, and two pass was very slow. I never hit the quality I was looking for. As the estimated compression times by compressor approached 35 hours, I felt it was time to try something else. My only regret, other than the cost of Episode :-), is that I didn't start with Episode from the beginning. BTW, their training DVD was worth the price for me.

Good luck.

-Ed

Ed Ramsey
Coalesce Productions Inc.
Technology and Audio Professionals




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John Farrell
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 5:29:10 pm

I appreciate the feedback, Ed. My videos are considerably shorter, ranging 3 to 5 mins at the most--and I'm planning to use it with Squeeze 4.5, so I'm hoping that does the job.

John Farrell
http://www.farrellmedia.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:43:57 pm

With Squeeze, your mileage may vary....

Search this forum for all the problems associated with Squeeze.

I'd recommend Episode.



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John Farrell
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 10:51:39 pm

I will take a look at Episode. On Windows, I've been seriously underwhelmed by Squeeze....

John Farrell
http://www.farrellmedia.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 29, 2008 at 11:32:07 pm

On Mac I use both Squeeze and Episode. Episode is "heavy iron" but some find Squeeze learning curve is easier. I'm a "heavy iron" kind of person though.



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Corbin Gross
Re: Flip4Mac
on Jul 31, 2008 at 2:23:00 pm

I barely know what I'm doing but Flip4Mac is awesome.
I do a lot of videos ranging from 5min to 1hr that need to stream from a Windows server. I just use whatever preset looks about right at the time and it usually does the trick lickety split. I have to export a QT from AE or PPro, then use QT Pro (Flip4Mac and QT Pro makes it an even $200, like you said) to export a WMV. It works fast and looks good in my opinion.


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Andrew Saliga
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 5:34:28 pm

I have a client asking for some high res WMVs. What settings would you suggest? I can't get anything that looks close to what a QT codec can achieve. I've also noticed that there seems to be a peak bitrate, because after increasing it to a certain point I don't get any change in file size or quality. Anyone know what the peak bitrate is for a WMV? And does anyone have any workflow tips for creating high quality WMVs for clients who ask for them?



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Daniel Low
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 5:51:27 pm

I have a client asking for some high res WMVs. What settings would you suggest?

In other words, "how long should my piece of string be?"

What do you consider high res? What is your source? Who is the clients audience? How high or low are the clients expectations?

There is no 'peak' bitrate as such. you could go to 15Mb/s or higher if you wanted to.

Your peak bitrate is determined by the available bandwidth or a mental calculation that involves a combination of your frame size, how complex your footage is and what you consider to be 'good enough' quality. There is no magic figure only very rough guides.

WMV is capable of just as good quality as the equivalent Quicktime CODEC using similar settings.

Tell us how you are doing it now and well tell you if there's anyway of improving your workflow. Be as detailed and specific as you can



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Andrew Saliga
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 6:44:03 pm

In typical client style, they throw words around not knowing what they mean. By high res, I think they mean they want something that looks good. (file size is not an issue) I think they are releasing it to the press. Why they want WMVs I'm not exactly sure. We already delivered QTs to the broadcasters and the spots were aired weeks ago.


So here is my workflow. I handle just about all the compression jobs around here and run most of them through Compressor and some through Sorenson. We just purchased Flip4MAc to allow WMV export from Compressor.

The file I'm working with is was shot on a RED, then the 4K footage was brought into FCP at 2K. The final edit was exported from FCP at ProRes422 HQ (720x486). It's a 30 second spot and is 286.9MB when exported as ProRes422HQ.

I brought that file into Compressor and tried several settings. My final settings were:

-Export Using: WMV 9 Advanced
-2 pass CBR
-Quality 100
-20,000kbps
-Size and Rate: Current (I kept it at 720x486 and 29.97)

The audio settings aren't as important, but here is what I used.

-2 pass CBR
-192kbps
-44.1 Stereo
-24 bit


Just for kicks I exported the same video with these exact settings, only changing the bitrate to 99,999kbps. I figured that'd be ridiculous of a number to get me a noticeable file size difference, but nothing. Both came out at 48.7MB.





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Daniel Low
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 7:38:18 pm

The file I'm working with is was shot on a RED

Lucky you! - Lovely stuff to work with.

The final edit was exported from FCP at ProRes422 HQ (720x486)

Just to be sure, is this 4:3, anamorphic 16:9 or letterboxed 16:9?

I brought that file into Compressor and tried several settings. My final settings were:

-Export Using: WMV 9 Advanced
-2 pass CBR
-Quality 100
-20,000kbps
-Size and Rate: Current (I kept it at 720x486 and 29.97)


20,000Kb per sec!!! Are you sure, 20 Megabits per second!? - Why or how did you decide to go that high?

I'm currently delivering a similar frame size for a client at 1Mb/s, so you simply don't need to go to anything like that amount, you are wasting bits as there is a limit to how much information each pixel needs.

I'd suggest you don't need anymore than 3Mb/s even for difficult content.



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Andrew Saliga
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 8:31:08 pm

"you are wasting bits as there is a limit to how much information each pixel needs"

Is that the peak bitrate? I thought I had read somewhere there is a peak bitrate one is able to reach on codecs.

I thought that was high. Aren't DVDs generally 7-8Mbps?

The content isn't too difficult. There are two shots with trees in the background. One is fairly wide and some leaves are moving. There is a transition that has sort of a motion tile effect with transparency to reveal the next shot. There is text of a website on the whole spot, and some animated text scattered throughout. There are also waving flags in the video, but other than that it's people walking.





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Daniel Low
Re: Flip4Mac
on Oct 27, 2008 at 10:09:15 pm

Is that the peak bitrate? I thought I had read somewhere there is a peak bitrate one is able to reach on codecs

No, the peak bitrate setting is simply saying to the encoder that you do not want the bitrate to go past the set value.

Different codecs have different theoretical peak limits but it's more that they can't make use of the extra bits than you can't input the value.

For example Prores422 can deal with many hundreds of MB/s but a 3GP codec can only deal with a 1Mb/s before there's no point in giving it more.

Commercial DVDs can range from anything between 3 and 8.5Mb/s.





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Please post back saying what solved your problem. It could help others, and saying 'thanks' is free!


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