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Opinions on best compression options

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Chris Blair
Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 8, 2009 at 12:46:07 am

We're renovating our conference room and in the process placing a permanent desktop PC in the room to feed a 32" LCD display for presentation and full-screen video playback. The LCD will be fed a VGA signal.

The PC is an older system that was previously a workstation that ran one of our VelocityQ edit systems...so while it's an older Pentium 4 system, it's still very capable and has lots of RAM and large, fast hard drives. The OS will be completely rebuilt and will only have a handful of programs installed...and as mentioned will be used to give presentations and play videos from playlists from an as yet undetermined media player. Most of the video will be SD, with a handful of HD projects (mostly 720p). We're not sure if we're going to add a hardware scaler or just let the TV upscale the SD stuff. Depends on what it looks like once it's all setup.

You might ask "why not just use the native codec they were captured in?" The answer is because the DPS codec is proprietary, and while there's an AVI tool that creates virtual files that point to the .dps files and most media players can play them, in our tests, all of them hiccup or do odd things to either the video or audio. Interestingly, WMP performs the best, and VLC the worst, refusing to even recognize the DPS AVI virtual codec. The others (KMPlayer, Zoom Player, MPlayer) have issues too, from unsynced audio to tearing in the video.

So now to my question. What would be the best codec/format combination to ensure smooth playback while retaining the highest quality? I've tested several flavors of MPEG2, WMV, VC1, and Cineform. VC1 creates tiny files at very high quality, (even at fairly high data rates of 10-20Mb/sec) as does WMV, and I frankly can't tell the difference between these and MPEG2 and Cineform AVIs, which creates files 10 times larger....although also quite small in comparison to the originals. All of these play fine from the computer.

So that's primarily why we're converting, to get better performance and compatibility in the media players and obviously to reduce file sizes since the originals are quite large (600MB - 1GB per thirty second spot).

Any thoughts on this? Anyone doing this or have clients that use a conference room presentation system this way? The reason we want to do it this way is to have the ability to quickly build playlists of our videos (there are hundreds of them) for a particular industry.
And to be able to control them remotely (we have a wireless method for controlling the media players)

Thanks

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 8, 2009 at 10:19:47 am

You simply cannot beat the quality and efficiency of x264. MeGUI is probably the best front end for x264 encoding. There is a learning curve but it's well worth it.

If you don't want to go down the x264 route then next best would be H.264 (Dicas or Mainconcept SDK) followed by VC-1

On another note, you'll be killing some quality by using a VGA connection. Any reason why you can't go to DVI for the connection to the display, that way you'll be keeping an end to end digital signal.

Scaling of SD is usually best left to the display unless you spend a fortune on scaler - depsite the fact that one of the best value scalers is found in the range of Toshiba DVD players such as the XDE600 Upscaling DVD Player which can be had for less than £100.

__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"

Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


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Chris Blair
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 9, 2009 at 1:59:15 am

We're considering H264 too, but one reason it wasn't on my list is our marketing person wants to be able to take the same video files and put them on our company laptop and build playlists for presentations when he's out of the office. When we've tested H264 files at full resolution and high quality (5-7Mb/sec and we're using Carbon Coder which I believe uses MainConcept for H264), our 6 year old HP laptop has a hard time playing them without some hiccups here and there. The laptop plays all the others without issue.

Could be that is only has a 1.4Ghz processor, or that it's in dire need of a hard drive reformat and fresh OS install. Which begs the question...why not get a new laptop? Well...budget reasons primarily. We're spending several thousand on the conference room renovation and just trying to avoid buying unnecessary stuff.

On the VGA over DVI, most of the LCD TV's in the 32"-37" class that we've looked at have VGA inputs and not DVI...so the thought was to avoid an unnecessary A/D conversion since the LCD's PC input is VGA. Frankly I was surprised that they all seem to have VGA inputs instead of DVI. Kind of odd.

Ultimately, we'd like to add a Blackmagic HDMI card and just play our native files (they'll play with an AVI virtual codec that points to the video) out via HDMI. But again, just trying to get it working...then as budget allows, add the stuff that will improve quality.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Chris Blair
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 9, 2009 at 3:46:39 am

Ok...a lightbulb went off in my head after re-reading your post Daniel. The graphic card in the PC has VGA and DVI out. A colleague emailed me and said he uses a DVI to HDMI convertor cable he bought on monoprice.com for $35 and it works great. He watches NetFlix movies streamed from his PC on it and said it looks great.

I imagine that would be a much better solution...digital out of the PC direct into the LCD!

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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Daniel Low
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 9, 2009 at 11:42:47 am

Even better: click here

__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"

Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


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Daniel Low
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 9, 2009 at 8:48:22 am

[Chris Blair] "We're considering H264 too, but one reason it wasn't on my list is our marketing person wants to be able to take the same video files and put them on our company laptop and build playlists for presentations when he's out of the office. When we've tested H264 files at full resolution and high quality (5-7Mb/sec and we're using Carbon Coder which I believe uses MainConcept for H264), our 6 year old HP laptop has a hard time playing them without some hiccups here and there. The laptop plays all the others without issue. "

Another reason to consider x264, at least give it a try, it's free after all!

You might find that HDMI does not give as good a picture from a PC as DVI does. That's certainly my experience and that of many others I've come across on my internet travels. It may well be worth hunting down a panel that supports DVI, certainly if you plan to show some text on screen, if it's all video then HDMI should be fine.




__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"

Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


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Chris Blair
Re: Opinions on best compression options
on Oct 10, 2009 at 12:15:19 am

That's great on that cable on Ebay. We've looked quite a bit for LCDs with DVI and they're few and far between at the size we're looking for. The room it's going in isn't very large and some seats at the conference room table are only 4-6 feet away from the monitor...so we don't want to go over 42" on size and preferably want to keep it at 37". We haven't looked a lot but at that size, we haven't found any LCD's that have DVI inputs.

It will mostly be used to play video, with some occasional presentations via PowerPoint and possibly looking at some websites and doing skype etc. So I doubt we'll be using it much for looking at text intensive pages.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN
http://www.videomi.com


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