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Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD

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Carl Rohumaa
Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 11:02:07 am

Hi I am having a debate here as to which is the best of two workflows when the intention is to end up with a standard definition DVD. My students shoot on either SD or HDV and capture from mini DV decks.
They edit in both formats (sometimes in the same sequence!)
So the choices are

1. Export from FCP as Quicktime FCP.MOV then import this as an asset to DVD Studio Pro.
or
2. Export using compressor as MPEG2 .m2v and audio as 16Bit 48kHz and import to DVD Studio Pro

I have my own theories about this but just thought I would ask the people of the Cow what they thought? Is there another bullet proof way of making a standard DVD maybe?
Currently we are still on FCP 6.0.6 about to move to FCP 7.

I know this is well trodden ground but...... maybe I missed something?

Video Tech


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Carl Rohumaa
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 3:13:52 pm

Please correct me if I am wrong but this is my take on this. Sorry this is a bit long!

The format for a SD DVD is MPEG2. Certain types of exported .MOV (within a Quicktime container) files can be used in DVD Studio Pro. For example you can export simple edits from FCP without re-compressing frames and use these in DVD Studio Pro. But when you do this it will still have to be encoded to MPEG2 and will show in the assets list as status "yellow" (needs encoding) not "green" (ready to go). This means you cannot always simply author your DVD and then hit BURN. Sometimes you need to first make a build (this is the bit where the encoding takes place) and then burn the disc after showing DVD Studio Pro the correct folder where the build was created. So the time you thought you were saving is not really saved. Also every time you burn this project it will have to encode the video. Fine you can use the previous build but if you make any alterations then an encode will have to take place anyway.

The real problem here is that not all edits will safely export as a nice smooth FCP Movie files (another name for a .mov). If the edit has used an exotic mix of media or third party plugins or an esoteric plug-in chain things can go really wrong and end in corrupted un-compilable media (without re-compressing all frames).

The margin for error at the export stage cannot be overcome. Students will sometimes export a movie as SD and sometimes as HDV. They then may try to make a SD DVD with both types of media and hey presto DVD Studio Pro chokes. Or they make a mistake and go for Quicktime conversion and make themselves any number of incompatible formats, some very cruely will show as status "yellow" but will not compile.

I do think it is good practice to make a QT version of a finished edit though. It is a sort of back up of your edit. A master file you can use to re-edit or encode into any format you desire, even MPEG2.

The other option is this. Export your sequence as an MPEG2 with the brilliant easy to use FCP helper application Compressor! This way your assets will show as status "green" in DVD studio pro. Usually you can go ahead author your DVD and then hit BURN and you will end up with a SD DVD (if you remember to set PAL SD). OK so you will have to also export your audio separately but this can be done at the same time as exporting the MPEG2. In fact you could as so many often do export a whole plethora of formats for different uses. One for your SD DVD one for your HD DVD , YouTube Format, iPhone MP4, web, podcast etc etc.

Your corrections comments opinions much welcome
Cheers
Carl

Video Tech


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Sam Ellens
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:06:25 pm

I'd recommend a straight export from Compressor into m2v and ac3 files. Exporting a reference file means another program has to make sense of it and has caused me headaches. Exporting a recompressed mov means you'll have to transcode again to make a DVD, so what's the point? Each recompress also sucks quality out.

Export from FCP using compressor, put it in exactly the format you need (m2v with bitrate dependent on length of movie), plug into DVD Studio Pro/Encore and burn. Best quality and likely the least time as well.

Sam Ellens
Intern - Zamasti Films
4th year at Ryerson University - Radio and Television Arts

My system: iMac 21.5 3.06GhZ 4GB


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Carl Rohumaa
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:59:41 pm

Hi No quality is lost if you do a straight export of the sequence as a QT FCP .mov Even if you do check the box that says re-compress all frames the difference is negligible in my experience. In fact as another poster has mentioned it is actually safer to use your QT version to then make the MPEG2 in Compressor.
The sequence and the QT should be identical.

Video Tech


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 5:08:52 pm

[Carl Rohumaa] "No quality is lost if you do a straight export of the sequence as a QT FCP .mov Even if you do check the box that says re-compress all frames the difference is negligible in my experience. "

Don't check the -Re-compress all frames box, that does unnecessarily lose a generation. A self-contained QT at current settings is a one to one identical copy of the sequence, generating the very best copy possible, period, end of story.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Carl Rohumaa
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 5:30:49 pm

Yes don't re-compress all frames if you don't need to.


Video Tech


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:15:30 pm

1. DVDSP does encode and burn SD DVDs from Quicktime files in one easy step, however they are never as good as the DVDs created from exports using Compressor. SD DVDs from HD files are especially inferior, often with artifacts that appears as wavy motion. They are good for "down and dirty" copies for showing works in progress, but that's all.

The best practice that consistently creates the best DVDs is as follows:

1) Render the timeline, making certain that "Full" is check in the Render All dropdown menu.

2) Export a self contained Quicktime at "current settings" using Export Quicktime Movie. The self contained file is the very best one to one copy with no genration loss, that can also be archived as the "completed master."

3. The self contained file should be use to in Compressor to encode SD DVDs and Web video as well.

4. The .M2v video file and .AC3 audio file then are used in DVDSP to author and/or burn DVDs.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™

EPK Colorist - UP IN THE AIR - nominated for six academy awards

A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Carl Rohumaa
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:51:14 pm

Brilliant thanks guys you have (so far) confirmed my argument. (See my reply to my own post).

I really like David's take on this. Make the QT and use it to make the MPEG2! Makes total sense. Especially if you have a crazy edit with ten layers and a dodgy plug-in your mate made in xcode. Rendering on FULL sounds sensible to me also.


Please read the reply I made to my own post and tell me if there are any bits not quite right or even if I am totally wrong.
Cheers
Carl



Video Tech


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Joey Burnham
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:05:12 am

Yes, do what David says, though making it a self contained QT out of FCP isn't totally necessary if you never need to go back to that source file. Reference movies do serve their purpose. I have stuff that I know for sure I won't need again, and in that case I go with the reference movie.

By the way Carl, there is an option in DSP to set the encoding procedure to "background encoding", in which it will encode your files while you build your menus, set up the DVD, etc, then, by the time you are done usually you are ready to go, but it's a moot point anyway as that's not the best workflow as discussed above.

Joey


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cow
Paul Hawke-Williams
Re: Which is the best workflow? QT > DVD Or Compressor > DVD
on Mar 24, 2010 at 12:57:49 am

Hi all! Just adding my two pence worth:

Exporting a QT from FCP does make a duplicate of the timeline but if you take that straight to DVDSP it will only compress the video to MPEG2 and leave the audio uncompressed

If you Send To Compressor you get a better output for DVD as it uses the cuts in your timeline as compression markers therefore giving a better video quality, especially with high movement footage

In compressor you also have the ability to adjust the compression settings far more than you can with DVDSP.

And finally, in Final Cut Studio 3 you can send to Compressor and then get back to editing in FCP straight away, it doesn't lock both programmes while compressing as it did in FCS2.

Hope this helps!

Paul Hawke-Williams
http://www.macguruwales.co.uk
Media Trainer - Mac Support - Video Production


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