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Unhappy with animation quality on DVD

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Lora Probert
Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on May 31, 2010 at 9:50:47 pm

I am not happy with how my animation looks once I view it on a TV screen via a DVD (SD). The lines of the animation are not smooth, they slightly dance and shimmer if that makes any sense. Here's how it was created:

The shots were created in After Effects with composition settings:
HDTV 1080 29.97
1920x1080
Square Pixels

Each scene is exported as:
Best Quality
Full Resolution
Codec Compression: Animation

The scenes were imported into Final Cut Pro and edited together. The FCP sequence timeline is (matches the animation):

1920x1080
Aspect Ratio: HDTV 1080i (16:9)
Pixel Aspect Ratio: Square
Field dominance: Upper (Odd)
29.97
Compressor: Animation
Quality: 100%
Motion Filtering Quality: Normal

Exported from FCP (rendered timeline) as:
Quicktime Conversion
Compression: Animation
Millions of Colors, Best

NOTE: THIS LOOKS GREAT WHEN PLAYED BACK ON COMPUTER SCREEN

Then I import it into Compressor and export with these settings:
DVD Best Quality 90 minutes
File Format MPEG-2
SD DVD
Two Pass VBR Best
Bit rates of 5 and 8
Motion: Best

And finally, it's burned to DVD via DVD Studio Pro, encoding settings are the same except for Field Order "Top" is selected to match my original animation and timeline Field Dominance settings in FCP. Not sure if this makes a difference at this point or not.

Thanks!
Lora.




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Tom Brooks
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on May 31, 2010 at 10:47:48 pm

[Lora Probert] "Each scene is exported as:
Best Quality
Full Resolution
Codec Compression: Animation
"


It may be a matter of semantics, but you should use the Render Queue, not Export. I would consider ProRes 422 to be a better choice for the Final Cut part of your workflow. Animation is a somewhat outmoded 8-bit codec. You can also choose to render fields out of After Effects. Set that to Upper First in Render Settings. If your entire sequence is 1080 at 29.97, I see no advantage to rendering without fields.

[Lora Probert] "Exported from FCP (rendered timeline) as:
Quicktime Conversion
Compression: Animation
Millions of Colors, Best "


Don't use Quicktime Conversion. Export Quicktime Movie, Same as Source.

[Lora Probert] "And finally, it's burned to DVD via DVD Studio Pro, encoding settings are the same except for Field Order "Top" is selected to match my original animation and timeline Field Dominance settings in FCP. Not sure if this makes a difference at this point or not.
"


As long as you imported m2v and AC-3 audio into DVD Studio Pro and put those assets on your timeline, then the encoding settings in DVDSP will only apply to items that are not encoded, such as motion menus chosen within DVDSP.

In addition to those various corrections, you didn't say why you're working in 1080 when your output is SD DVD. Some of the shimmer might be caused by very fine lines which are becoming finer yet in the down-scaling from HD to SD.



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Lora Probert
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on Jun 1, 2010 at 2:50:43 pm

Hi Tom,

Thanks for responding. I didn't create the animation and therefore am not sure what/if fields were originally selected upon rendering. I mistakenly said export in my prior message, I do know the Render Queue was used in AE.

I can re-render the scenes out again, using the ProRes 422, if you think that is going to make the difference on the final DVD.

The animation is set to 10920x1080 as some of it gets mixed with our HD footage in another project. And I do hope to later have an HD copy of these.

Thanks so much!
Lora.


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Tom Brooks
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on Jun 1, 2010 at 3:45:01 pm

Hi Lora,
I don't think ProRes will make the difference you're looking for. It's a great way to go with FCP in general though, because it's optimized for RT, it's 10-bit, and the file sizes are smaller.

The more I think about it, your workflow really isn't likely to be the majority of the problem, since Animation is a lossless codec, albeit a somewhat old-school one. For example, the recompression that occurs in Quicktime Conversion should not be noticeable with a lossless codec.

I can only suggest a few things to try. One is to check on the field rendering in AE. I'd probably go with field rendering on and upper first. You might also check on things like Motion Blur in AE or even experimenting with a little blur on the offending objects. A little blur can settle down that shimmer.

You might also try a custom encoding preset in Compressor. Some material does better with a fairly high constant bitrate. So create a preset with 7Mbps CBR and see if it helps.
-Tom


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Lora Probert
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on Jun 1, 2010 at 4:13:33 pm

I shall try your suggestions and let you know. Much appreciated!

Lora.


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Lora Probert
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:01:09 pm

I tried unsuccessfully your tips above (with the exception of the blur). Could it be because the animation lines are just too thin? It looks so good on the computer screen, I just wish those lines would not turn into marching ants when encoded.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Unhappy with animation quality on DVD
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:54:38 pm

[Lora Probert] "Could it be because the animation lines are just too thin?"

Absolutely, especially if they're fairly high-contrast in the animation. Any thin lines will look awful in curves and angles.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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