I have a bunch of commercials that are PAL native MPEG-2 files. They are muxed .mpg files, 720x540, 25fps, interlaced upper field first, at 12Mbit/sec, with MPEG layer 2 audio at 384 kbit/sec. These are how our spots are archived - unfortunately we do not have the money or manpower to get the DigiBeta masters and encode new MPEGs.
For a presentation, these will be shown alongside a ton more that are NTSC native. Because of the limitations of our playback system, we need to have all the spots in the same format. Since most are NTSC we'd like to convert the PAL spots to NTSC. I understand that MPEG2 is a lossy codec, but we also need to keep the visual quality as perfect as possible - so we need a high quality encoder.
I have Episode Pro but have had bad luck using it. I have a case with their tech support and hopefully that will solve the issue. But in the meantime I'd like to get suggestions on alternatives. Of course budget is very tight, but we could spend maybe $1000-$2000. Either mac or Windows is fine.
So far, I've had the best luck with VisualHub (believe it or not!) having tried Episode Pro and Compressor. We have a copy of ProCoder 3 on the way as well.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Who makes the best MPEG-2 encoder in this range? Is there something else I should be looking at?