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curbdawg
MPEG Encoders
on Jun 12, 2003 at 8:24:35 pm

Anyone have any suggestions on the best MPEG2 encoders? I would like to use a third party encoder, unless someone has had success in getting extremely high quality output through the encoder packaged with editing software. I was looking at Discreet's Cleaner XL, but I didn't know if there were others that did as good or better for the same price or cheaper.
Right now, I'm using the encoder that was packaged with the Avid software. It does a good job, but the only options that you have are on the bit rate. You don't have the option for VBR, so certain areas of the final video are rougher than others.

Thanks!
Dawg


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Jon Oransky
Re: MPEG Encoders
on Jun 13, 2003 at 7:17:51 pm

the best mpeg2 encoder out there by far is the canopus procoder. we have them in stock for $599.95. You can read more about it at http://www.videoguys.com/procoder.html.

- Jon


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jwvideoservices
Re: MPEG Encoders
on Jun 15, 2003 at 9:55:24 pm

Thanks for the tip.

Canopus has a 15 mb demo of Procoder which you can download from the Canopus web site (http://www.canopus.com). I tested it out on a project that has stumped every other encoder I've tried, and found that Procoder is both easy to use and that it produces video as good as you would hope for on a DVD. For me, it has produced much better output than anything else I've tried. Short of spending six figures for a commercial DVD set up (Sonic Scenarist and a hardware encoder), the Procoder demo version was -- by a wide margin -- the best DVD encoder I've found.

The project I've been struggling to put on DVD is a multi-camera shoot of a local dance school's annual recital. This was shot on MiniDV with three triple-CCD camcorders (Sony TRV900 and VX2000s), in a theater with theater lighting, and some fairly serious young ballerinas in vibrant colored costumes. It was edited using Cinestream 3.1 and is mostly distrubted on VHS tapes (printed using SVHS vtrs) which looks very good even on the new, high-D, large screen home theater systems that are showing up even here, in rural Montana. Some folks thought it would look better on DVD and asked me to put it on DVD.

Being ballet, the show has a lot of rapid movements, and the amount of motion seems to throw just every other encoder I've worked with.

What do I mean by "throw?" When the dancers leap across the stage, you see multiple images ghosting behind them as they move. (On even the VHS tape, you see the dancer and see recognizable facial features). As dancer swings her arm up over her head, the arm seems to stutter upwards (you think you see six or 12 arms moving through the arc). There's more, but this will give you an idea.

I tried a variety of encoders (mostly programs employing variants of the Main Concept encoder) with no luck. They all had varying degrees of motion artifacts, ranging downward from "not-too-bad" to utterly un-watachable. These have included: the Beta and current selling versions of Sonic Foundry's Vegas+DVD (on a friend's system); a demo version of Ulead's DVDWorkshop; Discreet's Cleaner 5 and MPEG Charger (which came with my copy of Cinestream, the program I use for video editing); the demo version of Discreet's Cleaner XL; Sonic's DVDiT SE; and Sonic's MyDVD (which came with my Pioneer AO-5 burner); and Pinnacle Express (which came with one of our computers). I tried out a Ligos encoder, which a friend had. . I tried encoding from the Quicktime files output by Cinestream (using various Codecs inlcuding Sorenson and Radius-NTSC), I tried encoding the Cinestream edits to AVI rather than QuickTime. For applications that provided camera control, I tried direct capture off the original DV camera tapes. Tried the same thing using Apple's iDVD (versions 2 and 3) on an 800 Mhz iMac and twin 1G G4 Powermac), and got equally bad results. Looked briefly at Apple's DVD studio, which seems to be very impressive, but I was not able to really test it out and am not interested in buying yet another computer.

Until I ran across the ProCoder demo, I got the best results using TMPGenC (free 30-day trial version available from http://www.pegasys-inc.com). It's a very impressive program (check out the custom color correction adjustments and histograms available under the "advanced" tab), but it still left me with motion artifacts in the video. It yielded excellent MPEG2-DVD output for anything without much fast motion. It gave the best -- but still unsatisfactory -- results for the dance video. I tried dozens of combinations of settings (based partly on what I read in the many newsgroup discussions of it). Over a week's work, the best I was finally able to produce DVD clips that weren't much worse than VHS quality, but still had very noticable motion artifacts.

Procoder's default settings for MPEG2-DVD NTSC produced a DVD video with no motion artifacts and better color than best I had achieved with TMPGenC. I think the defaults were for interlaced (bottom field first), Constant Bit Rate (CBR) of 6000, and highest speed (which I changed to high quality). I've been experimenting with the various settings and have found excellent results using 1-pass VBR with the bit rate set to 4000.

Coding speed for ProCoder seemed to run about the same as for TMPGenC, and slightly slower than some of the Main Concept encoders. (Cleaner 5 and XL seemed to be considerably slower and also seemed very unstable on my main editing workstation, a P2.4 (ASUS motherboard) running Win2k (Service Pack 3) with 1 gig of RAM. Unless I close them between DVD burns, Sonic's MyDVD and DVDit seem to lock-up on this system every third time, so it might be something in my system set-up. No problems with Ulead's DVD Workshop Demo, TMPGenC and Procoder, though. Both TMPGenC and Procoder have batch coding features (allowing you to encode multiple files simultaneously), and ProCoder also seems to allow you to simultaneously encode for multiple output formats, as well.


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CD
Re: MPEG Encoders
by
on Jun 29, 2003 at 2:10:00 pm

I have to agree. I've tried them all as they were being released & was never 100% satisfied. Then came procoder & I never looked at another encoder since. Mastering quality setting is simply amazing!


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