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Just finished my fan film. Can't get it on DVD/Dual Layer or Blu Ray at desired Quality.

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Keith DuBose
Just finished my fan film. Can't get it on DVD/Dual Layer or Blu Ray at desired Quality.
on Sep 10, 2014 at 9:40:29 pm

Ok, I'm going to try and explain this as best I can.

I run on Imac 10.5.8. I use final cut express 4 for my film editing and iDVD for my dvd burning. I have used Adobe Encore 5.5 to make a custom menu dvd for my film and that was cool but produced pretty much the same result as iDVD for the regular DVD-R's.

I've just finished completing a film that has literally taken me 4 years to make. Its a quicktime mov file exported out of final cut express 4 in 640x480 resolution (the first footage we filmed started out that way as yea we didn't quite know what we were doing. I got a new HD cam and still used that footage but downsized those clips for my fx program visionlab studios, did my fx, exported those as raw animation files, then threw those into my final cut timeline so i'd keep as much quality in that format as possible.)

Now that the film is completed, digitally in its mov format now (despite the fact that yea i could've started this project differently and had better results than now)

At 92 minutes long and 12.5 gb of memory on the file, I usually have no problem burning on dvd-r (with 4.7gb space). However I've been trying to find better memory/playback options for a theater presentation I have in 1 month.

I'm quite happy with out it looks on the playback on my mac. It looks "good" on regular dvd-r's (dvd+r's apparantly never work through my mac). Now for BluRay a friend of mine was able to help me put my mov file through Final Cut X to burn onto his external BluRay player that would burn off his mac. The video definitely looked ALOT better. However one problem. All my optical laser effects and objects that are red in my film will either appear a bit pix-elated or have vertical or horozontal lines through it. But when I play the mov file back on my computer and my dvds though, it doesn't have that.

I've tried flashdrives (even as a back up device) only to find that multiple sandisk 64gb flashdrives all gave me an "error code 0" and later discovered that files over 4gb won't load onto the flash drive unless you change whatever format it says you have to and even after you do that, you limit its playback capability. Is there a high memory mac flash drive that won't do that to me and won't require me to "jump through hoops" to make it work??

I also tried getting external bluray drives and software considering that blurays hold 25gb which theoretically would be more than enough and probably show the same playback quality i'm seeing on my mac here. Unfortunately there are a TON of hoops to jump through and other extra softwares you have to purchase after you get all that stuff as "unfriendly with blu ray that mac is." Eventually I just lost patience and returned all that stuff after I spoke with a blu ray authoring company and then they explained that not only would I have to back to Final Cut and re export it in a whole nother codec but also that my simple 480 file won't burn onto a blu ray either. So I guess that's out unless someone can provide me with a step by step process for an old OS X 10.5.8 mac to accomplish that since everything is now apparantly 10.6 and up now.

Also DVD-R Dual Layers were suggested to me. I tried DVD+R DL's (as no retailer around me had the -R versions) just to see and i-Dvd was giving me "multiplexing errors" everytime I tried burning. I actually had 2 successful runs with DVD-R DL's but at the third one, it kept spitting the disc out or wouldn't finish the burn and freeze on itself.

I'm currently trying Encore with the Dual Layer dvd's, however as I set it up, I noticed that when I set the DVD thing to Dual Layer 8.54Gb space, the project would only fill my file up to 5.64GB. Why won't it go to its full 8.54 size there?

Everyones telling me I should go back and just do a regular export of my whole film in FCE without quicktime conversion (but i'm afraid if I do that, everything will look wrong or pixelated as everytime I render my effects clips for playback the red objects look bad and unless I eliminate that render, the export brings out the clip to look that same way and I don't want that.)

Either that or they tell me to make an iso file for Disk Utility or a VOB file which I'll be honest, I know NOTHING about as I've been going the IDVD route this whole time.

And here's the big question: HOW DO I MAKE AN ISO FILE??? (I've tried googling it and there's no site I can find that explains how to create it from files but rather how to do it by ripping from other dvds).

I'm a guy that really needs things explained step by step as I don't understand alot of file types that well.

So my big question (with all these circumstances is this). What options with my present equipment do I have to make a better presentation of my mov file film than regular dvd-r with iDVD burning????

I've also been told I should consider DCP though I highly doubt that'll benefit me consider how "EXPENSIVE" that is and the risk of trying it yourself and it not being compatible with the theater.

Any help seriously appreciated.


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Dave Haynie
Re: Just finished my fan film. Can't get it on DVD/Dual Layer or Blu Ray at desired Quality.
on Sep 13, 2014 at 5:24:27 am

[Keith DuBose] "I've just finished completing a film that has literally taken me 4 years to make. Its a quicktime mov file exported out of final cut express 4 in 640x480 resolution (the first footage we filmed started out that way as yea we didn't quite know what we were doing. I got a new HD cam and still used that footage but downsized those clips for my fx program visionlab studios, did my fx, exported those as raw animation files, then threw those into my final cut timeline so i'd keep as much quality in that format as possible.)"

What is the original format? You're FAR better off rendering directly from your source film project to your target format than from some intermediate format. 640x480 is certainly an acceptable SD format for computers, but DVD is 720x480. At 12.5GB, I assume you're using something like ProRes in Quicktime, so you're not likely to suffer from re-compression artifacts rendering from that output file. But unless your original film sources and effects are all in 640x480, you will do better rendering to a native DVD format from the originals. If everything's in 640x480, well, that's unfortunate, particularly given that HD is 16 years old at this point, and people are going to be viewing most content on HD-class monitors.

Another thing... you're rendering lots of FX, right. Just how you create those will have a big impact on how it looks. Either rendering from an animation program or downsizing from HD, you need good software with anti-aliasing support to make these things look smooth as you deal with lower resolutions.

If you don't have that available, you may be able to get a similar effect with very careful use of blurring effects on your FX. Basically, very sharp edges can turn into jaggies when you down-rez from a higher resolution video stream, and pure "computer" graphics have much the same issue. Applying a good quality Gaussian blur filter to your video before you downrez will dramatically improve the look of many sorts of animated video in SD. And yeah, I've done lots of animation... I usually deliver in HD, and it's awfully annoying to get it acceptable in SD when authored as HD.

[Keith DuBose] "I'm quite happy with out it looks on the playback on my mac. It looks "good" on regular dvd-r's (dvd+r's apparantly never work through my mac)."

DVD-R vs DVD+R is just a low-level thing... both are supposed to look to a drive pretty much like glass mastered DVDs (DVD+Rs can even be told to "lie" and claim they are glass mastered DVDs), but not every drive is made to spec. And Apple was certainly an early proponent of DVD-R, before they decided none of use needed physical media anymore (they're wrong, of course).

Anyway, there's no difference between the DVD and the MPEG-2 file you generate to master a DVD. iDVD is probably doing this for you, but in professional DVD mastering software, you do this from your video NLE timeline or an adjunct encoding program, so you have far more control over the characteristics of the MPEG-2 you're rendering. But different things can happen on playback. For one, when you play a DVD on a televisions, that DVD's video is always perfectly synched to that TV, and either going to a television designed specifically to that format, or being upscaled by a computer in your TV specifically designed to make that format look good (well, hopefully) on your higher resolution TV.

When you play a DVD on a computer, your monitor is usually still running at the computer's refresh rate: could be 60Hz (most LCD screens are), could be higher. Either way, they playback may not be in sync. And it's definitely not a video screen at video resolution (well, perhaps with Blu-ray, we'll get to that). So early on, video playback looked pretty ugly on computer monitors. But as computers got fast enough, they started doing the same kind of digital signal processing on a video image to make it more suitable to the screen. And some go way beyond what most TVs do, simply because they have far more CPU cycles to spend on the problem. It depends on your player.

In short, your Mac PC is probably hiding the defects from you. That's why it's critical to ALWAYS preview any media content on the device you will use for delivery. CDs should be played in real CD players, DVDs on real DVD players connected to real televisions, etc.

Now, a word on MPEG-2 creation. At 90 minutes, you're going to encode video at about 6500kb/s in MPEG-2, assuming that your soundtrack is stereo and encoded in AC-3 at 192kb/s (a typical bitrate for stereo audio). If you're spending more of your "bit budget" on audio, you'll have less available for video, so do make sure you're rendering the DVD using AC-3 audio, not PCM or MPEG Layer 2.

But you probably don't want to encode at 6500kb/s. You can get pretty much all the quality you'll ever need for a 90 minute SD film on a single DVD, but you need a good encoder that can do variable bitrate encoding, ideally 2-pass VBR. What this does is boost the bitrate when it's needed, and drop it when it isn't, to get better quality video in the same space. If you have no controls on MPEG-2 quality in iDVD, there's a virtual certainty you're just getting constant bitrate (CBR) MPEG-2 at about 6500kb/s. DVD video can go in excess of 9000kb/s. Yeah, a dual-layer DVD will get you that ability, to just brute force it. But there are many commercial DVD players that do not work well with DL discs. So it's not a format I would recommend for distribution.

[Keith DuBose] "Now for BluRay a friend of mine was able to help me put my mov file through Final Cut X to burn onto his external BluRay player that would burn off his mac. The video definitely looked ALOT better. However one problem. All my optical laser effects and objects that are red in my film will either appear a bit pix-elated or have vertical or horozontal lines through it. But when I play the mov file back on my computer and my dvds though, it doesn't have that."

Well, you have the same resolution issues I mentioned if you're rendering to standard definition video on Blu-ray. I mean, basically, you're blowing up an SD video 6:1 to play it on any HD screen, whether it comes from a Blu-ray or a DVD that's upscaled by the television. Depending on the TV, some actually show interlaced video... hopefully your video was mastered as progressive -- you didn't include many technical details.

One possible solution here is to render your own Blu-ray compatible video. You can control some of the characteristics it when rendering, and your PC playback will hide fewer of the details, since you'll control most of the upscaling. I'd recommend 720p60 or 1080p24 video on Blu-ray for animation and film -- 1080i gets you interlaced. And those are the high-def options.

And yeah, I am getting a bit technical here. It's a technical topic. There's a reason some folks' video looks much better than others'... in fact, many reasons. I once spent about 12 hours trying to tweak an animation to not look like crap on YouTube.. and it wasn't all that long ago, YouTube in HD, in fact. You do have to understand what's wrong before you can fix it. Thing is, experimenting is how you can learn... try some of the stuff suggested here, see what works, and you may be on your way.


[Keith DuBose] "I've tried flashdrives (even as a back up device) only to find that multiple sandisk 64gb flashdrives all gave me an "error code 0" and later discovered that files over 4gb won't load onto the flash drive unless you change whatever format it says you have to and even after you do that, you limit its playback capability. Is there a high memory mac flash drive that won't do that to me and won't require me to "jump through hoops" to make it work??
"


It has nothing to do with the manufacturer, it's the formatting. The long standing standard for Flash Drives, SD cards, etc. is Microsoft's FAT32. And FAT32, as the name suggests, is a 32-bit file system. 2^32 bytes = 4GiB... not much of a way around that, that's the math. The SD standard, which is actually a standard (Flash Drives are more of "just a thing that happened", change to exFAT (sometimes called FAT64) when they went to the SDXC standard. exFAT supports files over 4GB in size, and all modern PCs and Macs support it. If you have an older Mac and haven't updated MacOS, you may be in trouble, but otherwise, that's what you want. However, exFAT will not work on "devices" ... not on your Blu-ray player, not on your TV, not on your PS3, etc. Maybe eventually... I think you need MacOS 10.7 (2011). It's often hard to do new things on old systems, and while Apple offers much cheaper, or even free, updates, they're also completely willing to burn old OS versions, introducing things that break new software, ignoring support, etc. So if you're on a Mac, you really need to keep up with the OS releases, or you will be left behind. Only the iPad/iPhone are worse, in the PC industry. Naturally, since the updates are cheap or free, that is a strategy, rather than Microsoft being very good (not perfect) about backward compatibility, but charging $100-$200 every three years for the new thing.


[Keith DuBose] "I also tried getting external bluray drives and software considering that blurays hold 25gb which theoretically would be more than enough and probably show the same playback quality i'm seeing on my mac here. Unfortunately there are a TON of hoops to jump through and other extra softwares you have to purchase after you get all that stuff as "unfriendly with blu ray that mac is." "

Well, yeah. Apple got the "discs are bad" religion just around the time the HD format wars was happening, and maybe that cemented their decision. Or big money from the iTunes video store. Either way, the Mac is the absolute worst platform for Blu-ray, simply because there's a culture of hostility against it, even when Apple does offer support (like rendering Blu-ray compatible AVC from Final Cut). I've been using Sony Vegas since it came out, and as you might guess, Sony's been an extremely pro Blu-ray company... they've had full Blu-ray support since 2008.


[Keith DuBose] "I'm currently trying Encore with the Dual Layer dvd's, however as I set it up, I noticed that when I set the DVD thing to Dual Layer 8.54Gb space, the project would only fill my file up to 5.64GB. Why won't it go to its full 8.54 size there"

The maximum bitrate you can use for DVD video is 9800kb/s. 90 minutes of video at 9800kb/s will not fill up your dual-layer DVD. As I mentioned before, a single-layer DVD is all you need. Your problem is producing a good standard definition result. I suspect the Quicktime playback is hiding the flaws on playback with their signal processing. Maybe there's a way to switch it off? Might be something to look into. Or a different video player.

[Keith DuBose] "Everyones telling me I should go back and just do a regular export of my whole film in FCE without quicktime conversion (but i'm afraid if I do that, everything will look wrong or pixelated as everytime I render my effects clips for playback the red objects look bad and unless I eliminate that render, the export brings out the clip to look that same way and I don't want that."

If you're having that much trouble getting a good result, the problem is your material. You'll have to fix that. "Everyone" is correct that, in theory anyway, if you want the best possible result, you start with your original project files and render to the medium you're after, as I mentioned. Now, given the size of your Quicktime file, it sounds like you have something high quality in there, maybe ProRes. But as I mentioned, it's rendered at the wrong resolution for DVD, so even that is reason enough to go re-render.

Go take a look at videos posted on YouTube sometime... there's a ton of stuff out there that's just horrible in quality. And some that's very good. That's not an accident... getting good digital video results, particularly when mixing different kinds of video, adding FX, etc. isn't something you necessarily get right the first time. Or the 40th. Don't be afraid to try something -- that's what this hobby/avocation/profession is all about. You will not learn to fix this problem if you're afraid to experiment with different suggestions. If you've actually spent four years on this, even a month or two getting the result right shouldn't be any kind of a problem for you.

[Keith DuBose] "And here's the big question: HOW DO I MAKE AN ISO FILE??? (I've tried googling it and there's no site I can find that explains how to create it from files but rather how to do it by ripping from other dvds)."

Those people don't have a clue. You have been getting some good advice, that is not an example. ISO = International Standards Organization. The CD uses the ISO9660 standard for its file system. When you copy a whole CD image to a computer, it's usually just a raw image of that file structure. Thus, an ISO file. DVDs actually use a different file system, called UDF (Universal Disc Format), which is also a standard, ISO/IEC 13346. Higher-end DVD authoring systems can write a DVD or Blu-ray file structure directly an ISO file rather than to a disc. That won't do anything for your problem.

[Keith DuBose] "I'm a guy that really needs things explained step by step as I don't understand alot of file types that well."

You need to learn far more than one post can teach you. There are lots of resources online for learning about DVD and Blu-ray. One useful site is VideoHelp, http://www.videohelp.com. Creative COW is certainly another.

[Keith DuBose] "So my big question (with all these circumstances is this). What options with my present equipment do I have to make a better presentation of my mov file film than regular dvd-r with iDVD burning????
"


I think your MOV file is the core problem. You need to back to you originals to solve this problem, as I have suggested.

-Dave


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