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Improving compression in HD commercials

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Todd Terry
Improving compression in HD commercials
on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:38:09 pm

Hi gang...

I usually host/haunt other COW forums, but as luck would have it my needs bring me here today...

We're a small production company, most of what we do are broadcast commercials. We have just delivered the very first high-definition :30 television commercial to a station in our area. Until now, the stations here only passed along the networks' HD signals, there was no high-def local origination of programming or commercials. We pushed the envelope and got one of the stations to take one of our spots in HD.

It works pretty well... quite well in fact... but I think it still can be improved. Watching on air from my house, the particular spot we sent looks just a tad "blocky" and compressed at times, mostly coming out of transitions that are within the spot.

We made zillions of test files here, just about every combination of files and settings and kept running to their place to test them (fortunately, the TV station is only a couple of blocks from our studio). In the end we delivered them progressive Mpeg2 files, 29.97fps, 16:9, two-pass variable bit-rate encoding, with a maximum bitrate of 80Mbps and a target bitrate of 70Mbps, M Frames=1, N Frames=1, Closed GOP 0, Macroblock Quantization 10, VBV Buffer Size [2Kbytes] 488, Intra DC Precision 9 Bits.

Mpeg2 seemed to be the best files that play well out of their servers. We tried lots of outputs and combinations.... for example an HD Windows Media9 file looked great... but there were audio issues with it. Their system couldn't handle H.264 files at all.

We are using Adobe Primiere CS3 and CS4 to make these files on two different Matrox AXIO LE systems. When we throw the mastered Mpeg back onto a timeline here and watch it on an HD monitor, it looks great, with none of the artifacting that we see just a little bit of on air.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Much thanks,


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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