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Episode and Matrox CompressHD

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Richard Walton
Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 11, 2010 at 5:25:26 pm

MacPro 2.66 Quad-Core / 8 GB DDR3 /NVIDIA GeForce GT 120

Typical Workflow: Canon XL H1 - firewire capture in Apple ProRes 422 - FCP 6.06 - creating short form videos output as progressive downloadable files (usually 640 x 360) for www

When using CompressHD with Episode the workflow requires choosing the QT format and then selecting the Matrox Max H.264 codec. So, although Episodes preprocessing filters are still in the mix Episode's Dicas H.264 codec is not.

5 levels of Matrox MAX H.264 are offered in the "Compressions Settings" window (2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2). These relate to output parameters including video dimensions and intended format. The workflow I have been testing is exporting QT reference files from FCP 6.06 (Apple ProRes 422 from 1080i source footage) to Episode. Output files are 854x480. I have tried various MAX H.264 "levels" (mainly 4.0 and 4.1) with various data rates. While the resulting files are encoded faster with CompressHD I do not think the quality matches the files produced using the Episode H.264 codec. Specifically, the color saturation is better and the fades look cleaner with the Dicas H.264.

Perhaps I'm not selecting the best parameters in the compressions settings window for the Matrox Max H.264 codec? I'd appreciate it if forum members would suggest specific settings and/or let me know if I am missing something here.

Many Thanks,

Dick

PS - crosspost to Matrox Forum

Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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Richard Walton
Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 12, 2010 at 3:54:03 am

I thought a follow up to my own post would be appropriate in that I have, at least in part, answered my own question(s). After another set of tests that involved 1) adjusting the Episode filters (saturation, contrast and black restore) and choosing Matrox Max H.264 level: 4.1 (CABAC) with key frames every 30 frames and data limit set to 1400 kbits/sec the resulting file seems very close in quality to one produced using the Episode codec.

Here are a few other comparisons of the 2 files compressed from a 1920x1080 - 55 sec. - Apple ProRes 422 FCP QT Reference file .

Episode: 10.3 MB - total bit rate: 1554 - processing time 167 secs

Matrox Max H.264 (through Episode) - 9.8 MB - total bit rate: 1488 - processing time 88 secs

I am still interested in getting comments and suggestions and would like to have a better understanding of just what the H.264 levels (2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc) are.

Thanks,

Dick


Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 12, 2010 at 6:05:22 pm

Richard, I also use Max inside Episode.
As a test I used the exact same video XDCAM EX .mov 1080p30
I used Episode 5.3
Dicas H264_Widescreen_640x360 template
this is 1200kbps video VBV 5 and 64kbps audio
CompressHD MAX 1.8.1.0009
basically matching the above settings.

I used QT 7.6.3 and compared matching frames in both. The chroma, hue, gamma, luminance, contrast looked almost exactly the same.
The data rate was about 1290kbps for MAX and 1267kbps for Dicas.
The only filter I used for MAX was Resize
The filters used are those enabled with the Episode Template, Resize, Frame Rate (I disabled Deinterlace as source is progressive).

I'm not sure how you're comparing but the above is pretty close to a dead on match.

H.264 levels defines limits for the file such as data rate. Some codecs will set this automatically based on your data rate and other codecs such as MAX have the user set it. See below
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC#Levels




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Richard Walton
Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 12, 2010 at 10:34:52 pm

Craig-

You testing confirms the results I get -now that I understand how to adjust the parameters of the MAX codec. And thank you for the information on the H.264 levels.

I do have one remaining roadblock and am hopeful you will have an answer. Just to make sure we are on the same page - I am beginning with an Episode Template/All File Formats/QuickTime (mov) / H264_Widescreen_640x360. In the "Output" window of the Settings Editor I am selecting "MOV" and QuickTime Encode. In the Video window I am accessing MAX through the QuickTime disclosure area. After setting the various parameters there I apply the settings and process the file. So far so good.

The resulting file is .mov file. This plays fine in a QT player as either a .mov or .m4v file. If I change the file extension to ,mp4 QT player returns the message "The movie could not be opened. An invalid sample description was found in the movie." In reality I want the file to be played in a Flash context and my testing results in a black screen. I have found that if I remove the AUDIO AAC track the video file is accepted and played by QT.

I look forward to your suggestions and appreciate your help.

Many Thanks,

Dick

Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 12, 2010 at 11:07:26 pm

Don't change the extension. They're not interchangeable given information inside the "wrapper" (extension) that are different. That's the "sample description" message you're seeing. MOV works just fine in Flash.

http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Flash_Player:9:Update:H.264#Q:_Will_Fl...

Q: Will Flash Player 9 Update 3 support non-FLV files?

A: Yes, with this update, Flash Player will also support files derived from the standard MPEG-4 container format such as MP4, M4A, MOV, MP4V, 3GP, 3G2 if they contain H.264 video and/or HE-AAC encoded audio.






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Richard Walton
Arrrrrgg - FlowPlayer - Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 13, 2010 at 9:28:05 pm

Craig:

After too much time testing and fretting over why my Episode/MAX .mov files would not
function in the flash context I have been using the answer seems to be that FlowPlayer, an
"open source" (read, free) flash player, is not compatible with .mov files. So I guess the answer
is to bite the bullet and buy Macromedia Flash.

Thanks again!

Dick



Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Arrrrrgg - FlowPlayer - Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 13, 2010 at 11:21:41 pm

Try JWPlayer. It's also free and it works with MOV files.
http://www.longtailvideo.com/
and they even have a nifty setup wizard which will write the code for you.
http://www.longtailvideo.com/support/jw-player-setup-wizard



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Richard Walton
Re: Arrrrrgg - FlowPlayer - Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 14, 2010 at 1:58:36 am

Craig:

Although I repeat myself - Thank you Thank you!

Dick



Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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Richard Walton
Re: Episode and Matrox CompressHD
on Jan 15, 2010 at 5:45:02 pm

MacPro 2.66 Quad-Core / 8 GB DDR3 /NVIDIA GeForce GT 120
FCP 6.0.6
Matrox CompressHD 1.8.1.0009
Telestream Episode 5.3.1

Hi Craig:

Just when it seemed I had the Episode / MAX configuration working smoothly
I'm encountering a problem with files encoded for the iPhone. I either get a "rejection" message from iTunes when it attempts to sync the file with my iPhone or if it does successfully transfer the file to the iPhone the video is viewable but highly corrupted (flashes and green screen). The encoded file will play, in a seemingly normal fashion, on my desktop in QT player.

Once I access through QT (in Episode) the Matrox H.264 settings window what values should be entered and what boxes checked or unchecked?

Is there any reason why Episode preprocessing filters would interfere with creating a video file with iPhone specifications?

I sent these questions to Matrox but frankly their support people, have little or no experience with Episode. This is not to say they are not trying but simply unfamiliar with the MAX/Episode configuration.

Thanks,

Dick

BTW - thanks for the info on Longtail - I'm working with setting this up to use with my flash wrapped files.

Dick Walton
Natural History Services
http://www.rkwalton.com


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