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Brian LynnCodecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 4:25:14 pm

I am producing a very wide screen motion graphics piece for playback in WatchOUT.

WatchOUT keeps videos in sync by using closed GOP keyframes...

ProRes LT looks amazing, plays back great, but lacks the keyframes I need for sync.

MPEG2 is the recommended codec from the manufacturer... but MPEG2 looks like crap compared to ProRes.

Even using Blu-ray presets, and MPEG settings with 100% quality and bit rate set to 60 it STILL looks like crap...

Am I missing something or does MPEG2 just look like crap??

my h.264 renders are even worse, they look horrific compared to the MPEG2. Compressor, QT and After Effects all render very nasty posterized banded gradients... This is supposed to be HD, how can I render an HD looking compressed file??

This is driving me nuts! Help!!



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Dave LaRondeRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 5:23:56 pm

Presumably you're using AE to make the mpeg2's. Don't. Here's why:

Dave's Stock Answer #3:

Don't use AE to compress files for final delivery. The various compressors are there only to make quick 'n dirty files showing a project's progress to producers, clients, the kids, etc. AE is incapable of doing multipass encoding, a crucial feature that greatly improves the image quality of H.264 and MPEG-type files in particular.

Render a high-quality file from AE, and use a different application to do the compression. Popular ones are Adobe Media Encoder, Sorenson Squeeze and Apple's Compressor, which comes bundled with Final Cut Suite. Even compressing in Quicktime Pro is better than compressing in AE.

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


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Brian LynnRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 6:10:17 pm

Thanks for the response! Its interesting you say QT over After Effects for better quality rendering... the h.264 that QuickTime puts out is horrible compared to what I can get out of After Effects.

Maybe its because I am on a PC... Who knows. I should ship a file over to my Mini and try QuickTime on the Mac...

I will look into an external compression program, though I also have several content providers supplying me video and I won't have a the time or a chance to recode them.

Thanks for the reply!



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Brian LynnRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 6:32:48 pm

I am trying to find Adobe Media Encoder and I am slightly confused... a google search leads me mostly to Adobe's website but to their "Flash Live Media Encoder"...

I have found one link to an actual Adobe Media Encoder download but it seems dated...

Have they updated it and changed the name possibly?



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Brian LynnRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 7:31:14 pm

Apparently I had it and didn't realize it... I think I looked at Adobe Media Encoder long ago and didn't realize it was different than what After Effects used for rendering. I thought it was more just a stand alone set and forget encoder.

But it has done a much better job encoding the MPEG than After Effects did using the same quality settings.

Maybe I didn't quite grasp Sorenson but I expected better quality. It looked very blocky. I don't think this is a limitation of the trial version as the output is watermarked. It had less of a posterized look... instead it was more blocky. Very odd looking.



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Walter SoykaRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 5:37:09 pm

[Brian Lynn] "WatchOUT keeps videos in sync by using closed GOP keyframes..."

This is not entirely accurate. With MPEG-2 video, using closed GOPs and forcing sequence headers on every GOP improves sync accuracy, but it's not actually the mechanism WATCHOUT uses to maintain sync. WATCHOUT should sync any movie it can play, up to the limit of the display systems.


[Brian Lynn] "ProRes LT looks amazing, plays back great, but lacks the keyframes I need for sync."

It's not recommended by Dataton because Quicktime is single-threaded and ProRes isn't natively decoded by WATCHOUT, but a lot of WATCHOUT designers on the Showroom forum are successfully using it anyway.

That said, I generally use MPEG-2 video because WATCHOUT decodes it natively and because its decode complexity is relatively low -- sync can slip when the display computers are working beyond their limits. If I am working on a tight deadline, I'd rather focus on the creative than media issues.

If you have some time on the cluster, I'd try both the ProRes and MPEG-2 media and see if there's any performance difference on the display computers.


[Brian Lynn] "Even using Blu-ray presets, and MPEG settings with 100% quality and bit rate set to 60 it STILL looks like crap... Am I missing something or does MPEG2 just look like crap?? my h.264 renders are even worse, they look horrific compared to the MPEG2. Compressor, QT and After Effects all render very nasty posterized banded gradients... This is supposed to be HD, how can I render an HD looking compressed file??"

I wouldn't use Compressor, QT, or AE for MPEG-2 compression. Try either Adobe Media Encoder, Telestream Episode, Sorenson Squeeze, or GV ProCoder.

Gradients are especially tough if there's high motion elsewhere -- multi-pass encoding may help clean them up.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Brian LynnRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 6:20:08 pm

You are correct, I misunderstood when I was reading about the closed GOP. Its more important to be able to use a CBR vs VBR and I guess that's another big reason ProRes is not recommended.

I would prefer to remain in the MPEG format for exactly the reasons you mentioned but some of the other providers are not happy with the compression results and I am often left disappointed as well.

Both you and the previous response recommended Sorenson Squeeze though I will take a close look at all the external compressors you both recommended.

Thanks for the reply!



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Walter SoykaRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 7:34:30 pm

[Brian Lynn] "Its more important to be able to use a CBR vs VBR and I guess that's another big reason ProRes is not recommended."

ProRes is VBR, but it's very tightly constrained. It's not recommended because it's not "supported" like WMV, MPEG-2, or Animation-codec QuickTime.


[Brian Lynn] "Both you and the previous response recommended Sorenson Squeeze though I will take a close look at all the external compressors you both recommended."

I own a Squeeze license, but I primarily use Episode (which can also encode for a bunch of very broadcast-specific formats). I just upgraded to Squeeze 7, but I haven't had the chance to put it through the paces yet.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Brian LynnRe: Codecs
by on May 18, 2011 at 7:40:18 pm

We used ProRes LT last year and had a lot of success with it. Because of one small glitch last year I am being pushed into being more Dataton compliant for this year.

The Adobe Media Encoder has actually rendered the MPEG a lot cleaner then After Effects has.



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