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Tony Thijssen
1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 12:39:00 pm

I'm working on a motion graphics piece for a presentation at a tradeshow. It will be played from a computer and shown on a monitor with a 1920x1080 resolution. The presentation won't have any video, it all will be designed in PhotoShop/Illustrator and imported in After Effects.

I'm wondering what the best comp size and frame rate would be for this case, since it's all square pixel. I'm currently using 1376x774 and a frame rate of 24 f/s.

I want to prevent that the presentation will look scaled with artifacts or distorted. Can I stick with this comp size and frame rate or would another setting be recommended?

Thanks for your help.


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Jason Brown
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 2:45:54 pm

I think you'll need to define HOW it's hooked up to the TV. If you are using a VGA interface, then the monitor is basically an extension of the computer and any supported resolutions that the video card can push out will display appropriately. Then you'd use a video playback like VLC or Quicktime and go fullscreeen.

If you are using a video playback device, such as a Matrox box (I've used - with FCP) then I believe you'll need to conform to the appropriate (I'm assuming NTSC) frame rate - 29.97. 24fps would be played back with a pulldown to 29.97 and would need to be sourced at 23.976. Your frame size would also need to be a NTSC compatible size - 1280x720 or 1920x1080.

I've only had personal experience using source footage @ 29.97 and a Matrox mini to output HDMI to a monitor...all this using Final Cut Pro.

HTH,
-Jason


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Tony Thijssen
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:05:54 pm

Hi Jason,

it looks like it will be hooked up to the monitor using VGA. I'm flexible with the frame rate. I finished the storyboard in PSD using the 1376x774 dimension and now I have to start in After Effects and make a decision what the best size and frame rate for the comp is.

I'm wondering if I stick with 1376x774 and play it on the laptop full screen with QuickTime or VCL on a 1920x1080 monitor if my graphics will look blurry and not as crisps as in the PSD, since it has to scale up. Unfortunately I can't test on that monitor until shortly before the trade show starts.

Another possibility could be to resize the PSD to work for a 1280x720 comp with 29.97 f/s and export to a DVD. Not sure what would work better. Therefore any knowledge share/recommendation would be much appreciated.

Thanks!


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Walter Soyka
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:37:37 pm

Jason is absolutely correct -- playback will determine your comp settings.

That said, the display should determine playback. If the display is 1920x1080, then that's the ideal playback resolution, and anything else will be scaled.

I'm curious as to why you've chosen to work in 24p; my first inclination would be to use an even multiple or divisor of the refresh rate of the playback system (like 30 or 60 fps for computer video, but please verify). Motion graphics in 24p can look a bit jumpy if you're not very careful in the design, especially on larger monitors.

As a final note, my work is primarily live events such as this, and we would never run any playback system without a redundant backup -- computers are more and more reliable, but they can still crash, and you don't want a computer crash to ruin your booth. If your clients are not already planning for a backup playback system, you might want to suggest it to them.

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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Tony Thijssen
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 3:59:09 pm

Hi Walter,

I still have to start in After Effects so I can set the frame rate to 29.97 (or 30) and make the comp size every size I want. That said I already designed the storyboard in PSD and there I'm using 1376x774, because that was the resolution of the monitor we were supposed to get. That model got replaced by a 1920x1080.

We're going to use VGA to connect to the monitor, so I could use QuickTime or VCL and run it in full screen. I'm concerned though that it will look blurry and not as crisp on this monitor if I use the same comp size as current PSD file (1376x774). But I'm not sure, it might work. Unfortunately I can't test before the start of the tradeshow.

I also could set up my comp as 1280x720, frame rate 29.97 and create the final output on a DVD that will be played from the computer. May be that will give a better result...?

Any tips/best practices for this issues would be welcome. Thanks!



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Walter Soyka
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 4:47:52 pm

[Tony Thijssen] "I can set the frame rate to 29.97 (or 30)"

The ideal frame rate will depend on the refresh rate of the final playback device. I'm in the US, so everything here tends to runs at 60 Hz. 50 Hz, or sometimes 75 Hz, might be more appropriate for other locales.

[Tony Thijssen] "We're going to use VGA to connect to the monitor, so I could use QuickTime or VCL and run it in full screen. "

Computers usually drive their displays at an even 60 Hz, rather than NTSC-legacy 54.94, so if you're using a computer to play back, you might choose to work in an even frame rate. The difference will be extremely negligible, so if you are also delivering for future video use, you can safely keep it at 29.97.

You might consider Blu-ray delivery and playback instead of computer playback. In either scenario, you should have a live backup running on-site.

[Tony Thijssen] "I'm concerned though that it will look blurry and not as crisp on this monitor if I use the same comp size as current PSD file (1376x774). But I'm not sure, it might work."

If you're going from 1376x774 to 1920x1080, it will scale, and therefore soften or pixelate some. Whether it's acceptable or not is up to you and your client. If your own monitor is 1920x1080 or higher, you can try it out on your desktop to get a rough idea as to what it will look like.

Depending on the viewing distance, it might be noticeable, or it might not be.

For video, I recommend working in 1920x1080 from the beginning and scaling down during compression at the end of the process, if necessary, to avoid the problem you're facing now.

[Tony Thijssen] "Unfortunately I can't test before the start of the tradeshow."

You should try to test as best you can; if the client is providing the laptop to play the video on, is it powerful enough to play HD? Better to find out now, while there is still time to make a backup plan!

[Tony Thijssen] "I also could set up my comp as 1280x720, frame rate 29.97 and create the final output on a DVD that will be played from the computer. May be that will give a better result...?"

Same as above, this will scale up on the display and soften some. DVD is limited to standard def, so your project would only be 480p at best.

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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Tony Thijssen
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:12:15 pm

Hi Walter,

thanks for your tips. I don't think I'll have a laptop there available that can play 1920x1080 smoothly. I'll see what 1376x774 will do on my own monitor and take it from there. If that's not acceptable I'll look into the Blu-ray option.

Thanks again,

-Tony


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Jason Brown
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 5:14:39 pm

I'm speaking a little out of turn here...my testing wasn't scientific, but I think I can add some additional information in regards to VGA playback. There are a couple things I've run into:

-I don't know that any video cards on a laptop support native playback through VGA at 1920x1080.
You'll likely experience *computer* resolutions like 1024x768. (or the widescreen equivalent - 1366x768)

-Some video cards don't even support widescreen dimensions so you'll have black pillar bars on a widescreen TV (my tests are from a couple years ago, so that may have changed)

-If you are playing back at a supported resolution of the monitor and supported output of the video card and it fills the screen, it should be crisp...all my tests at different resolutions looked clean.

-Jason


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Walter Soyka
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 7:27:04 pm

[Jason Brown] "I don't know that any video cards on a laptop support native playback through VGA at 1920x1080. You'll likely experience *computer* resolutions like 1024x768."

Great point. DVI might be preferred for using the native resolution. There's also PowerStrip, a great utility for adding custom resolutions on Windows.

[Jason Brown] "If you are playing back at a supported resolution of the monitor and supported output of the video card and it fills the screen, it should be crisp"

Delivering anything other than native resolution to a flat panel display will result in scaling and some artifacting, but how noticeable that scaling will be depends on lots of factors -- the scaler itself, the content, the distance from the viewer to the screen, lighting conditions, etc. As Jason notes, if your pre-scaled resolution is close to native, it should still look pretty good.

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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Jason Brown
Re: 1920x1080 and square pixels
on Dec 22, 2009 at 4:20:08 pm

Good point Walter...I created some basic text movement and image movement for a 24p project and was horrified to watch it back...you have to be VERY careful about movemement.

Have you ever used a media player box? We use WDTV boxes and I've done some render tests and that little box can play back some pretty impressive footage. I've loaded up h264 @ 1920x1080 with a bit rate comparable to bluray - 25-30Mbps VBR and that thing keeps up REALLY well...no skipping or hesitation. And all you do is throw it on a jump drive and it's ready to go. HDMI interface...pushes audio and video

-Jason


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