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Compressor Output Questions.

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Tom Laughlin
Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 22, 2010 at 4:17:46 pm

Hey everyone,

I've got a few questions about a project I've finished editing, set up in FCP, and I'm outputing using Compressor. The time-line is set at 1440x1080 (see picture), and in the past, I've used Export using QT, exporting using the setting a 720x480 (16x9) file, and it looks great H.264, but with compressor, I used some of the presets the 300KPS/sec, and the 800KPS/sec. Does anyone have any special settings, or any advanced things that they not only like to do, like "crush the blacks" inside of compressor's advanced tab settings, but does anyone have any thoughts on how to best export this out of compressor? Or a better or standard way, using Compressor? I've heard of people outputting to 8-bit uncompressed, then dragging that into Compressor, but that seams like extra work. Has anyone compared Compressors output to an equal output using Sorenson Squeeze? Would outputting to Apple Pro Res, or another file like DV-NTSC QT, be better, if this eventually goes to web?

Also, I had a client in the past say that the file that I emailed to the client, they said it was 'buffering too much' and I explained to her that an H.264 800KPS/Sec (QT file totaling 18MB) encoded file sometimes eats up CPU power to play, though it has a great look and extremely low file size capability, does anyone know if I'm correct? I got a 3 minute clip down to about 18MB, and I tested it on multiple computers, and it played fine. So, I'm not sure what she is experiencing, as files play differently on everyone's computers. They want to put this up on their website, so if anyone has any presets for web video using compressor as well, much appreciated.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 22, 2010 at 4:50:44 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "800KPS/sec"

This should be written 800Kb/s or Kb/sec - it stands for Kilobits per second (Could also be Kilobytes per second but that is generally written KB/s (uppercase 'B')

Most people find the best way of moving from FCP to compressor is to export a Quicktime Movie 'Using Sequence settings' i.e. exactly the same settings as your source clips.


For quality presets (or for those too lazy to create your own) you can't beat these:
http://compressorpack.com/

[Tom Laughlin] "Has anyone compared Compressors output to an equal output using Sorenson Squeeze?"

http://www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=11633

[Tom Laughlin] "Also, I had a client in the past say that the file that I emailed to the client, they said it was 'buffering too much' and I explained to her that an H.264 800KPS/Sec (QT file totaling 18MB) encoded file sometimes eats up CPU power to play, though it has a great look and extremely low file size capability, does anyone know if I'm correct? "

Files played from the local hard drive do not buffer and even an old PC will have no problem with 800Kb/s H.264.



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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 22, 2010 at 5:06:11 pm

This is great info, thanks!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:02:57 pm

Has anyone ever used and verified the quality of the "Compressor Pack" software setup plug-ins? I emailed Streaming Media magazine's editor and he said that although he didn't have any info, he told me to find my answers in the forums on compression, but I looked for about an hour and found no help or topics associated with my posted questions.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 7:47:04 pm

I answer that with a question: Would you know the difference between a 'bad' preset and and 'good' preset?

A true compressionist, dedicated to his/her art, would create a setting for each different piece of source and target they work with. There is no such thing as one size fits all, you can get very close but that's all.

Even then, very few can make shitty video look good (I've done my time restoring stuff frame by frame). No preset is going to polish a turd.

Your search for reviews on Cram obviously wasn't done particularly well as when I search on Google the first hit is this:
http://odeo.com/episodes/23725956-FMC-Review-Cram-Makes-Compression-Easy-an...

That review aside, I been told by fellow experts that they highly rate these presets.

At the price they are, you'd have to be a fool not to try them, if you can't be bothered to experiment or haven't the time to learn about the parameters it's a no brainer!




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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:06:37 pm

Yea, all good info here, but I just needed the last half of your answer, thanks!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 8:13:56 pm

If you look at a lot of the articles being written in the "Streaming Media" magazine, or on-line magazine, the latest Compressor over-all H.264 compression reviews aren't so great, in fact many other people in the magazine reference any other software or hardware, when faced with Compressor and it's outputs, in comparison to other softwares out there, their speed, image quality, and what I'm researching out and testing with trying to find good bases or foundations to start from, as a ton of people do not have the time to try out and test compression software or build presets, which I've done as well numerous times as well. I'm having great success with Compressor, but want to get better. So, with regards to my original post, it's just a matter of wanting to know who has used CRAM, and if there are "other" specific elements one needs to understand and master, before moving into advanced compression techniques with Compressor, using it to the max. I realize that everyone has to find out their own success with compression, but it doesn't hurt to share or inquire about what other people are doing and how.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 10:48:20 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "So, with regards to my original post, it's just a matter of wanting to know who has used CRAM"

Like I said, I know respected people who have and rate them highly.

[Tom Laughlin] "and if there are "other" specific elements one needs to understand and master, before moving into advanced compression techniques with Compressor, using it to the max"

Nothing specific, just learn all you can about the parameters of not only the specific codec but also what else the application around it has to offer in terms of pre-processing.

[Tom Laughlin] "but it doesn't hurt to share or inquire about what other people are doing and how. "

That's exactly what we are doing; sharing, but we do expect you to also make some effort yourself.



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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 10:56:59 pm

Again, if anyone else besides Dan has a comment or any input on this post, "we" would be much appreciated.

If anyone has any thoughts on:

1.) Compressor vs. Sorenson 6
2.) Some of the best Compressor recipes for H.264 QT
3.) Any additional notes on alternatives to Compressor, a mac-based software perhaps.
4.) I may think up some more questions later.

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:12:07 pm

Telestream Episode's Dicas H.264 codec is much better than Apple's H.264 codec.

The problem with relying on presets is that they can't possibly take into account unique aspects of a given source file. Presets, if they're well made, could be good jumping off points and sometimes your source does happen to fit the mold.

Every recent H.264 coded comparison article I've read lists Apple's H.264 in the bottom range. Apple doesn't supply the hooks for what some would consider important functions. It's CAVLC only. There's no ability to use CABAC entropy. You can't set it to High Profile. It'll decide to be Main or Baseline. There's no ability to set the number of B frames or Reference frames. The deinterlacer isn't as flexible as the one in Episode. Compressor, even with an internal QMaster virtual cluster on an 8 core Mac can be slower than other compression apps. There are no ways that a preset can fix any of the above.



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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:31:44 pm

What is it with people who think they have the creative licence to change my name?

It's Daniel, not Dan.

Thanks.



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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 10:43:08 pm

Really? I disagree. You needed the whole of my answer. You just don't realise it, yet.

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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 23, 2010 at 11:57:20 pm

Craig thanks, you've always answered my posts with specificity, and I appreciate that. Daniel, sorry for the name issue. Craig, in your perspective, what would be the ideal for H.264 encoding, whether it is from tests or from articles, or from your personal preferences, how do you prefer to encode H.264 and with what software? I understand that each project, client need, website specs, etc, it is all different and each source file is different, but can you suggest what your majority of H.264 encoding, or past encoding H.264, has been done with, and what the settings you felt were ideal, in this case, with the majority, if applicable? For example, I do a lot of compression using compressor, but most of the time, I usually do a preset, then tweak it alittle, and output a:

Name: H.264 800Kbps
Description: H.264 for high-bandwidth connections
File Extension: mov
Estimated size: 295.31 MB/hour of source
Audio Encoder
AAC, Stereo (L R), 48.000 kHz
Video Encoder
Format: QT
Width and Height: Up to 854 x 480
Pixel aspect ratio: Default
Crop: None
Padding: None
Frame rate: (100% of source)
Frame Controls: Automatically selected: Off
Codec Type: H.264
Multi-pass: On, frame reorder: On
Pixel depth: 24
Spatial quality: 50
Min. Spatial quality: 50
Key frame interval: 150
Temporal quality: 50
Min. temporal quality: 50
Average data rate: 0.688 (Mbps)
Fast Start: on

Also, there is a publication on the web called "Simple Encoding Recipes for the Web", which takes one through various set-ups, suggestions, and areas where you can go in and tweak, and they tell you why, and how, and etc. It's by Philip Hodgetts and Intelligent Assistant, and after the read, it was able to inform me somewhat on basics on encoding softwares and how to encode them, but this book seemed a little to vague and also detailed where it didn't need to be, and not detailed where it needed to be.

Anyways, this book and reading many articles on Streaming Media magazine on-line were some things that spawned my curiosity and posted questions about Compressor and how far one can really go with it, in terms of quality. But since it doesn't even play in the same fields as these other bigger name encoders, what would be your top 3 encoders and why?

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:03:05 am

Craig, also, when you get a chance, can you link some articles that you haev found informative n this subject, that you'd suggest?

Last question:

[Craig]:"It's CAVLC only. There's no ability to use CABAC entropy. You can't set it to High Profile. It'll decide to be Main or Baseline. There's no ability to set the number of B frames or Reference frames."

Can you quickly elaborate on this? If not, it's fine, just wondering.

Thanks guys,

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Craig Seeman
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:28:22 pm

From Jan Ozer. Worth reading. All the basics on H.264 and how several of the encoders perform complete with pictures.

http://www.streaminglearningcenter.com/attachments/download/32/Encoding%20H...

Big kudos to Jan. An excellent encoders resource.
http://www.streaminglearningcenter.com/



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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 5:43:50 pm

THANKS CRAIG!!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 12:31:45 am

[Tom Laughlin] "Daniel, sorry for the name issue"

No problem Thomas.

[Tom Laughlin] "Width and Height: Up to 854 x 480 "

What sort of frame size is that? Did you even bother to read Craigs link that's always at the top of this forums page?

Here it is for your connivence:
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/20/862224

[Tom Laughlin] "Pixel aspect ratio: Default "
Do you know what your source PAR is? If you do, are you sure you want that as your output PAR?

[Tom Laughlin] "Frame rate: (100% of source) "
[Tom Laughlin] "Key frame interval: 150 "

These two settings are quite closely linked in most cases. Keyframe rate for SD sources tends to be 10x the frame rate.

I know you've gone right off me but can you see what I'm getting at?

There is no 'ideal for H.264 encoding', there is no magic bullet.

If you want the best H.264 encoder on the planet then you should be using x264, the open source encoder/codec, there is nothing better. The reality is that you wouldn't have a clue as to how to use it.
If you want the next best 'quality' H.264 encoder then you'll buy Ateme (it just got a terrible UI) but most people can't afford it.
Next down from there is a battle between the like of Episode, Rhozet and Squeeze.

All I know is that the lead developer of x264, a genius by the name of Dark Shikari, reckons that Main Concept H.264 (found in Squeeze and Rhozet Carbon Coder) comes second to x264.

Take your pick.







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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 3:35:10 pm

[Tom Laughlin] "Width and Height: Up to 854 x 480 "

[Daniel] "What sort of frame size is that? Did you even bother to read Craigs link that's always at the top of this forums page?

Daniel, when you export out of compressor, it although it says it is "720x480", with it being a file that is 16x9, it auto-sizes the image as a 16x9 image, even though the QT file data says it is a 720x480 file, when you click on the file in QT, it auto-opens up and here is the info, see the picture here:





Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Tom Laughlin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 4:35:29 pm

[Daniel] Did you even bother to read Craigs link that's always at the top of this forums page?

Daniel, I've seen this calculator before, I noticed at the top, it read "Flash Bit Rate Calculator", I'm not encoding H.264 for Flash or outputting FLVs. When I changed the codec in the calculator to AVC/ H.264 output, the recommended settings in the calculator were pretty close to the recommendations already output with Compressor, using some presets, and also tweaking presets.

I understand that there is no "magic bullet" for H.264 encoding, everyone knows this, but isn't this why we have forums? To discuss better ways of doing what we are all doing? To share info on processes and best practices and learn about what people have tried and failed with, etc? Maybe there's no room here for me to learn more, but I appreciate your patience and answering my questions as far as alternatives and better means of encoding, which I'm willing to look into, learn more about, and actually try. So, I don't need the lecture on "You probably wouldn't know how to use it anyway" speech. I'm just here for help, ideas, positive, and informative information and communication. Thanks Daniel and Craig. I'll look over your suggestions and see about getting this process moving forward, and onto better encoding practices.

Thanks!

Tom Laughlin
Producer/Editor
Salt Lake City, UT
FCS3/Sony EX-3/Mac Intel


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Daniel Low
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 24, 2010 at 6:25:23 pm

Apologies. It was a bad day yesterday...

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steve martin
Re: Compressor Output Questions.
on Feb 28, 2010 at 5:59:06 am

You might check this out



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