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Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)

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Bogdan Brak
Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 5, 2011 at 7:45:28 pm

Hey guys,
Dave LaRonde suggestet to ask here for help.
Right now I've got an animation in two versions:
- a 720p 8-bit TIFF-Sequenz (duration: 3 mins / rendered out of AE CS5)
- a 1080p 8-bit TIFF-Sequence (duration: 3 mins / rendered out of AE CS5)

The physical device for playback will be at the end:
- 50" LCD-TV with DVI input
- Athlon 64 X2 4800, 2,5 GHz, 4 GB RAM + nVidia Quadro FX 1500 mir 256
MB. with DVI.
- if the Athlon system is too weak I would use mine (phenom II x4 955 3,2GHz, 8 GB RAM + GTX 460) but i would prefere using the athlon, because I don't want to carry my PC around.

I would like to compress both versions to h.264 files but I don't know which settings to use.(Bitrates, VBR-1/2 CBR...etc), cause I need:
- best Quality
- playable file

I have the Adobe Media Encoder and Premiere Pro CS5 for compression.
Any recommendements?

Thanks in advance.


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Jeff Greenberg
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 5:00:37 pm

h.264 is really a distribution format: you're not going to have a 'best quality' version; it's going to be compressed period. You can give it a higher bitrate = larger file = less compressed; but for 'best quality' we'd go uncompressed.

But I sense that you're really trying to just have two files, one of the playing better...the other better looking.

As far as the specific machine specs: test early, test often. You'll have to specifically test that machine to see how decent it plays back. Just test it out on the athlon. Build the largest file first and see how the Athlon handles it. You may find that the system is fine with the best 1080 file.

Settings:
Use the Adobe Media Encoder as a starting point:
Format: h.264
Preset to pick: 1080p 29.97 high quality (pick a different one if you're working at a different frame rate)

Report back and we'll go from there.

Best,

Jeff G

Apple Master Trainer
Avid Cert. Instructor DS/MC
Avid & Color Videos Vasst.com
Compressor Essentials Lynda.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 5:23:12 pm

Compression is a juggling act. Generally i think the word "best" should be banned or treated like any other 4 letter word.

You MUST test the results on the computer in question. Personally I find it harder to know how Altheon processors perform since I find them hard to compare to intel.

VBR generally gives you better results than CBR but, depending on the system but sometimes the peaks can create problems and you may need to constrain them. You have to test.

Profile can have impact as well as Baseline is easiest to decode, Main more power needed, High needs the most. Profile affects quality. You have to test.

Entropy CABAC vs CAVLC with the former being better but slightly more difficult to decode.

Keyframe interval as well as B-frames and number of reference frames used by the B-Frames, can have quality impact. The right numbers may depend on content. For keyframes many will use a formula of forced (at edit points) plus one every 5 or 10 seconds. B-frames are the most efficient but are the hardest to decode. This can be a juggle. You have to test.



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Bogdan Brak
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 6:23:49 pm

First... I don't know if it's important to mention that I'm NOT using video footage... (only a little part that's not affectet by the problems I'm mentioning below) my whole animation is made out of PSD-Files. It's a 2.5D animation.

Well... i figured out that I can only use the 720p sequence... because in the 1080p somethings are wrong and I have no time to fix it.

I know that for "best" quality it should be uncompressed but it's impossible to playback the file by the systems i've mentioned. Finally I need to compress.. no doubt.

I've tried several setting... changing profil, bitrates 20(10) and max25(15). 1-VBR-Pass/2VBR-Pass.
Also tried the h.264 blue-ray settings...

Sure... the video is playing but I have very big problems on bandering(or banding?) issues. The uncompressed TIFFs look wonderful. But the h.264 output's really sucks at certain points.

In my animation I am simulating light flickerings and playing with the cameras field of depth - blur adjustments while the cam is focussing etc... finally I've also used a vignette with noise. And everytime the light is flickering or the depth of field is changning, the compressed file looks terrible. There are 5 colorrings... no smooth gardients. And it's neccessary to mention that almost all the time the light is flickering => I have all the time this bandering rings. ;) (which actually is not funny xD)

in between... I'm always compressing with "progressive" (dont know the english translation... it's Fieldsomething ..arrangment?)

@Craig I don't know what you mean while talking about "Keyframe interval"
Are you talking about the "extended settings" in the Videosettings-tab? "Distance between Keyframes"? (I've got the german version, so I'm not sure if that's what your talking about.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 7:02:11 pm

[Bogdan Brak] "Distance between Keyframes"

That's it. Different encoders use different nomenclature so it's important to understand the concepts and wade through the fact that encoders call them slightly different things.

You're facing some standard challenges and unfortunately you will have to experiment as you have been. Ultimately compression is about compromise and there's no way around that. Animation, particularly with the characteristics you describe is going to be difficult. Even if you get it to look good on your computer, there's no guarantee that those settings work on the playback computer.

You might even consider using Animation or PhotoJPEG codec which would likely be a huge file that might (might not) be easy to play.

Rapid changes wreak havoc on GOP based codecs. They're not impossible but they are difficult. I can make all sorts of blind suggestions like, in addition to natural key frames used forced key frames every second if it's not forcing keyframes on the rapid changes. This could then result in non enough data for the B-Frames though so you'd need to go to a higher data rate. You may also minimize the number of B-Frames. I have no way of knowing if this would work though. Each source may be unique.

You first have to know in great detail what all the settings do and then think it through like a logic puzzle. The big bear is again, the best looking file may NOT be playable on presentation computer. You'd then have to consider solutions such as Blu-ray or a dedicated file player.



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Jeff Greenberg
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 7:04:33 pm

[Bogdan Brak] "First... I don't know if it's important to mention that I'm NOT using video footage... (only a little part that's not affectet by the problems I'm mentioning below) my whole animation is made out of PSD-Files. It's a 2.5D animation.
"

Nope. Not important (beyond the idea that we know the type of the content.) Coming out of AE - it's video


[Bogdan Brak] "I know that for "best" quality it should be uncompressed but it's impossible to playback the file by the systems i've mentioned. Finally I need to compress.. no doubt.
"

Right - you really need dedicated hardware for uncompressed video. Just didn't want us to be confused.

[Bogdan Brak] "Sure... the video is playing but I have very big problems on bandering(or banding?) issues. The uncompressed TIFFs look wonderful. But the h.264 output's really sucks at certain points.
"

Banding can be an issue with subtle gradients.

[Bogdan Brak] "In my animation I am simulating light flickerings and playing with the cameras field of depth - blur adjustments while the cam is focussing etc... finally I've also used a vignette with noise. And everytime the light is flickering or the depth of field is changning, the compressed file looks terrible. There are 5 colorrings... no smooth gardients. And it's neccessary to mention that almost all the time the light is flickering => I have all the time this bandering rings. ;) (which actually is not funny xD)
"


It's because you're asking too much of the codec at that data rate.

[Bogdan Brak] "in between... I'm always compressing with "progressive" (dont know the english translation... it's Fieldsomething ..arrangment?)
"


You should be working progressive if you're going to output to be seen on a LCD Display.

[Bogdan Brak] "I've tried several setting... changing profil, bitrates 20(10) and max25(15). 1-VBR-Pass/2VBR-Pass.
Also tried the h.264 blue-ray settings...
"


Ok, let's just do this much easier.
Let's give it the highest bitrate (25), 2 pass. If at the max bitrate/2 pass you can't get it to look good, we're going to have to try something else. What what that be? A codec meant for post production editing and is a much larger file, but may playback on your target machines.

Best,

Jeff G

Apple Master Trainer
Avid Cert. Instructor DS/MC
Avid & Color Videos Vasst.com
Compressor Essentials Lynda.com


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Bogdan Brak
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 6, 2011 at 11:12:53 pm

@craig. I first have to read about what "Distance between Keyframes" is. Will do it tomorrow.
Right now I don't know what you mean while talking about natural frames, forced frames and B(aseline?)-frames.

@jeff
my last try before leaving home was maxrate 25 and 2-pass. But I cant handle the bandings. despite of the vignette im not using any gardients. the only gardients that where created are those created by the flickering light. and right there it's extremly banding.
I don't care about the file size as long as it's playable and goodlooking.


is there maybe somewhere an overview about the h.264 settings in AME where I can find out what every single setting point does?


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Craig Seeman
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 7, 2011 at 1:11:29 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_compression_picture_types
You really have to understand this otherwise it's like playing baseball and not knowing what a ball is.
GOP=Group of Pictures
KeyFrame aka I-frame
P Frame=Predictive Frame
B Frame=Bidirectional Frame



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Bogdan Brak
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 7, 2011 at 10:48:04 am

thanks for the link.
I think I'm getting a little bit closer to what it's all about;)
However... in the AME h.264 settings there's no option about affecting these frames (i,p,b). There's no GoP-setting, M-Frame or N-Frame setting.
There's only the "Keyframe-Interval". Leading from the AME manual the value could be set lower if there are a lot of changes/cuts in the video. Sounds interessting for my piece.
But if setting the value to a small value it should be neccessary to raise the bitrate. That's what the manual says.

I'm going to try what will happen when I use 5 or 10 seconds.
But I also don't know (therotically) in which cases I should use which bitrate. Can you maybe tell which range i should use?
Well of course... I can imagine that using a Bitrate of 1 or 4 or 6 will be sensless in my case. And 50 will also be unplayable. But something between 10 and 40 is till not precise enough.
So which would be the minimum and maximum bitrates to test?


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Bogdan Brak
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 7, 2011 at 11:31:04 am

okay...
maybe it helps when I show you what it looks like.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/0ez5zr

here's an extract using this settings:
1280x720
25fps
PAL
Profile: High
Level: 4.1
target-bitrate: 20
max-bitrate: 25
2-VBR-Pass
(Keyframe-Interval unchecked)

i've tried it with changing
target: 25
maxbitrate: 30
keyframe-interval: 2!^^ and 5

results are visually the same.
problematic scenes:
- in the beginning while cam is zooming into the house on the right site of the city (the ground)
- the the black wallpaper on the right side
- the sky in the window while cam is focussing the face at the end.

maybe i'm too sensitive and what you see is completley ok... but maybe i've done something completly wrong. I need to know what...^^


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Bogdan Brak
Re: Best output settings for presentation (FullHD-TV)
on Feb 7, 2011 at 11:37:33 pm

Well guys. Thanks a lot for your help. I've learned a lot. Well.. maybe it's just 0.000001% of what I should know... but for me it's still a lot and for sure I'm not gonna stop.

Whatever... I've still got some banding problems but they are acceptable. But the heavy banding problem is solved.
There were two main factors leading to them:

1. I used too big values for the field of depth. That caused "bad" blurs that are hard to compress without getting artifacts and stuff like that. By now I turned off almost all field of depth settings. Only in very important parts I used it(simulating a cam tring to focus something). And it works after compressing too. And even if in "good" movies the focus is only at the important objects and the rest is blurry... I think in tmy case it's justified if everything is in focus... but that's another topic.

2. This is my very big mistake I've made:
I said to the background: "Hey background... if light shines on you, than you have to be affected by it."
Now I've said: "Hey background... be cool... if light shines on you, than light up a cigarette and don't give a damn about it" ;)
The big banding is gone and the video lives happily ever after...erm...effects...erm or something like that ;)

Lesson learned: Take care of the field-of-depth- values and the light affectedness if you're going to get a acceptable h.264 output at the end.

cheers


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