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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 02:07 AM

I'm not much of a computer person, to be honest. I once cut my reel on Pinnacle Studio on my PC, but when I once upgraded the software, it ruined my reel -- screwed up the colors in bizarre ways.

So I went back to scratch and tried the simpler imovie software on my Mac laptop, but I only cut some montages of the three Polish Brothers features to music, which I burn to DVD's for people.

Tonight I decided to try and look at one of the montages online as a Quicktime file, but the choices in imovie seem limited. Here's the basic conversion to Quicktime recommended for web viewing -- it's a tiny window and darker than it should be.

http://www.davidmull...orthforkQT1.mov

So I tried lightening a copy of the file up, and using a larger Quicktime setting for CD-ROM output (so it will take longer to download):

http://www.davidmull...orthforkQT3.mov

But it still looks screwy. Is the problem with imovie's conversion to Quicktime, or the original imovie files being lower-rez or too compressed? And it seems the smaller the window, the darker the image looks. The clips were originally imported from a DVCAM tape for editing on imovie. How do you get halfway decent-looking Quicktime files that don't take forever to download? Could the problem by the limitation of my host server?
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 04:06 AM

I'm humbled everytime I watch Northfork.

Excellent use of the Miller's Crossing theme...that music was fit to go along with anything that involves a Fedora.

David, do you have a TV monitor that you're outputting to for viewing the reel as it would look on a standard television? That not only helps in seeing the film color and exposure wise, but also how pixelated and low-res it really is.

What I do, with FCP mind you, is I export it uncompressed to a QT file. Then I use "Compressor" to compress the file and get it down to a more manageable file size. You may want to consider that.
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#3 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:16 AM

David,

It does look dark. It may be down to the difference in gamma between Mac & PC displays. It also looks as if it's running slightly slow. Is this intentional?

My web clips, I encode at 480 x 270 with the h.264 encoder 2 pass variable bit rate, 0.8 mbps. If you haven't got the h.264 encoder, then Sorenson 3 is almost as good.

A three minute piece will give file sizes around 50mb, which is OK these days, I think.
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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 07:26 AM

I just had a look at iMovie. When you export your movie, you should choose 'Expert Setting' from the drop down menu. That should give you the standard QT interface where you can choose encoders, bit rates, frame sizes etc.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 08:32 AM

Hi,

I don't think there's necessarily anything screamingly wrong with either of them - I'm sure Mr. Brereton's right about the luminance thing, and you should bear in mind that nobody has a correctly-adjusted monitor anyway.

I'd interpret these files as being from the basic pick-a-number compressor - if you want to start hinting and tweaking around with the compression, you can do better, but you'll spend quite some time achieving it.

h.264 is definitely the way to go - Sorenson is more or less exactly the same thing (h.264 is MPEG-4; Sorenson is based on an early release of the spec and is also used in things like Flash movies) but you may as well use a standard.

The alternative is to just do it as a straight MPEG-4 file, and not Quicktime encapsulate it at all.

Phil
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#6 Frank Barrera

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 10:45 AM

I'd interpret these files as being from the basic pick-a-number compressor - if you want to start hinting and tweaking around with the compression, you can do better, but you'll spend quite some time achieving it.

When I put my work up on-line via QT I wanted the windows to be large enough to see what was happening, with decent quality and of course download relatively quick. It took my very talented computer friend several nights of frustrating work to get to where I was happy and still the next time around there are some things that I need to change.

My advice is that if you hire a cinematographer to shoot, an editor to edit, a make up person to do make-up why not get someone with knowledge in the dark arts of QT compression to help you. Probably for the price of a couple of dinners you'd get where you want to be a lot faster with fewer headaches.
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#7 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 05:05 PM

What I do, with FCP mind you, is I export it uncompressed to a QT file. Then I use "Compressor" to compress the file and get it down to a more manageable file size. You may want to consider that.


I was running tests a few weeks ago with some HD trailers for a project I shot. I tested Uncompressed HD 1080 and I found To get the best results you should compressed right from your FCP sequence. I think it pulls from the raw files without re-compressing, and I found when blown up a 800% you can see flaws in the Uncompressed HD to compressor H.264 as well as color shifts that were not there in a FCP sequence h.264 compression.

David, I highly recommend Apples Compressor, and if not compressor try Sorenson... which is really easy to learn but I like h.264 better. I cut a reel for a DP here in Vancouver from DVCAM masters last year and finished the project by giving him a few nice web conversions for his website threw compressor.
Attila's Reel
Here are my online Compressor specs and DVD specs.

COMPRESSOR SPECs for Online (2.35)
"High" Quality Compressor Bit Rate
File Extension: mov
Estimated file size: unknown
Audio Encoder
AAC, Stereo (L R), 48.000 kHz
Video Encoder
Format: QT
Width: 480
Height: 204
Pixel aspect ratio: default
Crop: (L: 0, T: 49, R: 0, B: 49)
Frame rate: 29.97
Frame Controls: Off
Codec Type: H.264
Multi-pass: On, frame reorder: On
Pixel depth: 24
Spatial quality: 80
Min. Spatial quality: 50
Key frame interval: 50
Temporal quality: 50
Min. temporal quality: 50
Hinted for QuickTime
streaming server




COMPRESSOR SPECS for DVD Studio Pro
Name: MPEG-2 3.7Mbps 2-pass 16:9
Description: Fits up to 150 minutes of video with Dolby Digital audio at 192 Kbps or 120 minutes with AIFF audio on a DVD-5
File Extension: m2v
Estimated file size: 37.88 MB
Type: MPEG-2 video elementary stream
Video Encoder
Format: M2V
Width: 720
Height: 480
Pixel aspect ratio: NTSC CCIR 601/DV (16:9)
Crop: None
Frame rate: 29.97
Frame Controls:
Retiming: Nearest Frame
Resize Filter: Linear Filter
Deinterlace Filter: Line Averaging
Adaptive Details: On
Antialias: 0
Detail Level: 0
Field Output: Same as Source
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Field dominance: Progressive scan
Average data rate: 7.6 (Mbps)
2 Pass VBR enabled
Maximum data rate: 8.9 (Mbps)
High quality
Best motion estimation
Closed GOP Size: 15, Structure: IBBP
DVD Studio Pro meta-data enabled
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#8 Greg Johnson

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 08:48 PM

From what little I know about iMovie, I've found that it automatically letterboxes anamorphic footage when you import it. So then when it's time to export you are now forced to use a letterboxed 4:3 movie.

Problem I have is that you use up extra data to encode the black bars in your video, data that could be better spent on resolution. If your source tape is letterboxed then I'd suggest cropping out bars to reduce your file size.


Compressor is great, although I've found some bugs with their gamma on MPEG2.

Sorenson Squeeze for the most part stinks (IMO), but for web video it actually does a bang up job. They have a proprietary noise reduction codec that I really like (Sorenson Video 3 PRO).

But if I do a MPEG 2 or MPEG 4 in Sorenson it jacks up the gamma to no end, I have to use their silly little filters to compensate. When I contacted their engineering department they told me "yeah that happens,.. hopefully we'll fix it next release". After $500 I was a little ticked.


David, I noticed your Quicktime file is 15 fps, I'm assuming iMove truncated a few frames to save on file size too. That explains why the video is a little choppy. I'm also assuming that iMovie halved your frame rate from 29.97. That leads me to another commonly overlooked problem, encoding a telecined video.

The problem with film to NTSC is the pesky 2:3 pulldown. When encoding (especially for web) it's important to encode off of a 24fps master for many reasons. If you can't perform a universal reverse pulldown off of a master, and if you're not willing to invest the tedious time it takes to reverse telecine every individual clip,.. then Sorenson can at least de-interlace those two interlaced frames and make it so there is a duplicate frame every 5, rather then haveing 2 interlaced frames every 5.

If you'd like to FTP or mail me a master I'd love to help out and encode it for you. I've done a bunch of film trailers for the guys around here. Just PM me if you're interested.

- Greg
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 10:42 PM

Hi,

Aha, didn't think of that - because I never have to take any notice of it in a PAL world.

If you've extracted the file off the DVD (which is what you ought to do, dubious legality aside) then you're OK, because the MPEG-2 stream on the DVD is 24p. If you've recorded it onto DVCAM from a DVD player, you'll get it with 3:2 pulldown embedded, which will result in a horrible mess. If you're getting much poorer quality/size ratios than you'd expect, this would explain it.

Phil
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 11:10 PM

I've got DVCAM copies of these movies (4x3 letterboxed). If someone privately wants to email and explain how I can pull clips off of DVD's for my reel, please go ahead because there are some movies where I am having trouble getting the material from people (despite it being required in my contract.) Just note that I'm cutting on a Mac Powerbook.
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#11 Greg Johnson

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:22 AM

Hi,

Aha, didn't think of that - because I never have to take any notice of it in a PAL world.

If you've extracted the file off the DVD (which is what you ought to do, dubious legality aside) then you're OK, because the MPEG-2 stream on the DVD is 24p. If you've recorded it onto DVCAM from a DVD player, you'll get it with 3:2 pulldown embedded, which will result in a horrible mess. If you're getting much poorer quality/size ratios than you'd expect, this would explain it.

Phil


Removing the pulldown down isn't hard, it just takes some time if the pulldown isn't consistent. Of course the right software like cinema tools, or after effects is necessary too.

If I'm not mistaken all MPEG-2s are conformed to NTSC 29.97 once burned to a disc in the .VOB file format. Also MPEG's resize your video. If you encode a 720X480 anamorphic file the MPEG file will spit out a 720x404 flat file.

But the biggest thing about MPEG2's is that their super compressed for a source file. You don't want second generation quality on a reel. Furthermore until just recently MPEGs were pretty much un-compatible with NLEs until HDV.

That being said, there is a little ghetto trick I learned.

Copy the .vob file off of the un-copyrighted disc to your hard drive. Then change the extension from .VOB to .MPEG. Now when you double click it'll open in quick time, or you can import it to iMove or NLE. (I just looks like crap and there's no audio.)

- Greg
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#12 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 09:03 AM

Hi,

> Removing the pulldown down isn't hard, it just takes some time if the pulldown isn't consistent. Of course the
> right software like cinema tools, or after effects is necessary too.

On a Windows PC, you can do it with free tools like Virtualdub and AVIsynth. It isn't that hard, just need to pick one of five start points until it works.

> If I'm not mistaken all MPEG-2s are conformed to NTSC 29.97

You're mistaken. It's 24fps on the disc, and the DVD player does the pulldown. Otherwise, you'd be wasting a sixth of the storage space on duplicate fields.

> Also MPEG's resize your video. If you encode a 720X480 anamorphic file the MPEG file will spit out a
> 720x404 flat file.

Are you sure? It doesn't do that on the PAL discs, they're 720x576 just like anything else.

> But the biggest thing about MPEG2's is that their super compressed for a source file.

This is indubitably true. If you are forced to come from DVDs, the best way to do it is to extract the media you want and make any edits on GOP boundaries using a tool such as the Tsunami encoder's MPEG splitter/joiner. Then you can import the resulting clipped MPEG-2 file into your DVD project directly, and maintain the same quality as existed on the original DVD.

> Copy the .vob file off of the un-copyrighted disc to your hard drive. Then change the extension from .VOB
> to .MPEG. Now when you double click it'll open in quick time, or you can import it to iMove or NLE. (I just
> looks like crap and there's no audio.)

If there's no audio you're doing something wrong. Again I can't help with the Mac, but on the PC there are tools to extract AC3 or MP2 audio from VOBs to a standard PCM wave file, which can then be remuxed with the video at the point of any other conversion you feel like doing.

Phil
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#13 Charles Haine

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 10:17 AM

Lot's of great info.

I would through out two other peices of advice; if possible, I'd get a Digi-Beta over a DVCAM, any day. I know you probably don't have a deck, and it'll be even harder to get that from productions that don't want to even give you a DVCAM, but I've had much better experience taking the higher res footage from Digi and compressing it for web than I have with DVCAM.

Additionally, I'd think carefully about h.264. It is a fantastic codec, but I have my reel on my website in both h.264 (Quicktime 7 compatible) and .mpeg4, which doesn't look quite as nice, but is way more compatible.

You'd be amazed at the number of people who spend all day looking at reels and yet have a version of Quicktime several years out of date, and are unaware they could upgrade for free. I get emails about every two months saying they can't play my reel, can I send a hard copy. while I'm happy to send a hard copy, having the .mpeg4, which is viewable in older versions of QT, has probably helped me get gigs where they were too stressed for time to wait on the mail.

I'm here in Los Angeles, you can feel free to PM me if you want help ripping footage from DVDs (it's really compressed, but if you want to grab a full clip and put it back on a DVD, it ought to be fine), or compressing for the web, or with any reel stuff actually.

charles haine
charleshaineATgmail.com
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#14 Amit Bhattacharya

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 10:30 AM

Hi Everyone,

I am glad that this discussion is going on about compression for the web. Thanks Chayse for the specs. I am going through the same problem as David. Trying to figure out the best compromise between picture quality, file size and download problems. So far I have only experimented with a 50mb wmv file on my site. What baffles me is that why some people are able to see the reel with no problems, for some it stops halfway through and some are unable to download it at all. Is it the server I am using, Windows vs. Mac computers, the type of modem people have. I may just have to pay a professional to deal with it!

Amit Bhattacharya
amitbhattacharya.com
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#15 Greg Johnson

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 11:44 AM

> If I'm not mistaken all MPEG-2s are conformed to NTSC 29.97

You're mistaken. It's 24fps on the disc, and the DVD player does the pulldown. Otherwise, you'd be wasting a sixth of the storage space on duplicate fields.


Yeah, duh that makes total sense. Isn't it a fifth though? The odd thing is (maybe I'm up in the night) but it seems like any .VOB file I open is 29.97. When I get some time I'll look into it.

> Also MPEG's resize your video. If you encode a 720X480 anamorphic file the MPEG file will spit out a
> 720x404 flat file.

Are you sure? It doesn't do that on the PAL discs, they're 720x576 just like anything else.


I'm speaking only of anamorphic source video. If I open a .VOB in quicktime and view the info on the file it says 720x404. I also did a screen shot an measured it in photoshop, sure enough 720x404. If it's 4:3 then the resolution is 720x480. I agree that if this is the case, it's pretty lame. I hope I'm wrong, I'm just going off of quicktime and my screen res.

> Copy the .vob file off of the un-copyrighted disc to your hard drive. Then change the extension from .VOB
> to .MPEG. Now when you double click it'll open in quick time, or you can import it to iMove or NLE. (I just
> looks like crap and there's no audio.)

If there's no audio you're doing something wrong. Again I can't help with the Mac, but on the PC there are tools to extract AC3 or MP2 audio from VOBs to a standard PCM wave file, which can then be remuxed with the video at the point of any other conversion you feel like doing.


This is just a quick trick that requires no software. If you need audio then you'll have to rip. The best free-ware program I've found is Mac The Ripper, you can get it from versiontracker.com

My tests are by no means scientific, it's just my understanding of the matter. I'm totally open to the fact that I might be wrong.


- Greg
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 11:53 AM

Hi,

> If I open a .VOB in quicktime and view the info on the file it says 720x404.

That's Quicktime. Quicktime is an Apple Mac application and as such cannot be relied upon to tell you anything that cannot be expressed in Tellytubby-speak. The video is still 720x480; the display is 720x404 once Quicktime has unsqueezed it. At least I presume that's what's going on. It certainly isn't 720x404 on the disc, or else what would be the point?

Quicktime should of course also be unsqueezing the 4:3 pictures too, but it seems to be happily overlooking that. This is why people bitch and whine about Apple Macs - they simplify everything to the point of giving out dangerous misinformation.

Phil
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#17 Michael Most

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 04:07 PM

Quicktime should of course also be unsqueezing the 4:3 pictures too, but it seems to be happily overlooking that. This is why people bitch and whine about Apple Macs - they simplify everything to the point of giving out dangerous misinformation.


I would say that ***you*** bitch and whine about Macs. The rest of us go on using them quite happily and don't have problems.

As for Quicktime and unsqueezing, this can be done by setting a flag when the file is created, or by going to Show Movie Properties and changing the aspect ratio (this does require QT Pro, though).
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#18 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 04:14 PM

Well it's caused a problem here hasn't it?

P
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#19 John-Erling Holmenes Fredriksen

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 04:32 PM

You should definitely have a look at your material in your NLE with a reference monitor and a scope, and make adjustments as needed to get your pictures where they should be. I always do uncompressed out of Final Cut, and then use Compressor to make files for the web. This workflow works very well for me, and creates high quality video compared to filesize. I would also recommend using custom frame controls in your Compressor-profile, and set all the settings to max.

Just remember that your pictures will always look different on different computers, and across operating systems. Not much you can do about that.

I can't back this up with facts or actual knowledge, but I think iMovie somehow doesn't encode your files very well. I don't have much experience with it, but what I've seen doesn't look good :P I would use FCP to be safe.
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#20 Thomas Worth

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Posted 06 February 2007 - 08:12 PM

I've been doing web encoding of movies for years, so I'd like to offer my thoughts:

I am beginning to think QuickTime isn't necessarily the best way to deliver web content anymore. With sites like YouTube and Google Video using Flash as the video format, I think that's going to eventually be the standard method of video content delivery over the web. Plus, with Flash, you can use ActionScript to manipulate the video and build custom players that offer features not found in QuickTime. I'm not saying that Flash is technically BETTER, I'm just saying it seems to be taking over as the "format for the web." It is also almost universally supported.

The new Flash codec is On2's VP6, which requires the Flash 8 plugin. Sorenson was Flash MX's video codec and also works well. I believe YouTube and Google both use the older Sorenson codec.

Removing the pulldown down isn't hard, it just takes some time if the pulldown isn't consistent. Of course the right software like cinema tools, or after effects is necessary too.

Ahhh, you Mac guys will never have the opportunity to appreciate VirtualDub. That's too bad. I use both Macs and PCs, and I must say you are MISSING OUT. I hope someone takes the source for VirtualDub and makes a MacOS X version. That would answer the world's prayers.

If I'm not mistaken all MPEG-2s are conformed to NTSC 29.97 once burned to a disc in the .VOB file format.

Not quite. The video is still 23.976p. The MPEG file (not the VOB) is flagged as 29.97 for PLAYBACK only. The video itself is independent of the frame rate and is left untouched.

Copy the .vob file off of the un-copyrighted disc to your hard drive. Then change the extension from .VOB to .MPEG. Now when you double click it'll open in quick time, or you can import it to iMove or NLE. (I just looks like crap and there's no audio.)

A VOB (Video Object) is a multiplexed MPEG2 file (m2v) and either a WAV or AC-3 file for audio. The reason your audio doesn't play is because QuickTime does not have a handler for AC-3. I can drag-and-drop VOBs directly onto VirtualDub and play back the film, with or without 3:2 pulldown (my choice), with the AC-3 audio. Works perfectly.
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