Is this picture quality and size as good as it gets ?

Discussion in 'Camcorders, Action Cams & Video Making Forum' started by Merlin, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. Merlin

    Merlin
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    My first capture...desperate to know is this normal what I see.

    I used my Panasonic MX8 expensive and high rated Leica lens MiniDV camcorder for tripod mounted filming in a daylight lit hall with many windows. Result on TV looks fine. Now to capture it.

    Put it into vcr mode, firewired it to WinXPhome PC via port in Audigy 2 breakout box. Chose Edit & Record video using Premiere6.5 from popup that appeared. Being in the UK, I have for my first project chosen PAL with preview, 32KHz (see note A), I didn’t choose widescreen. Frame size it indicates thus at 720x 586.

    I captured 6mins 22secs of footage giving 1.39Gb avi file. No dropped frames. PC is 3.4GHz 2Gb ram. Seagate Barracuda HDs.

    Double click the file and see that default player for avi is my Audigy 2 I discover which is my top notch sound card and software.
    It gave a fair picture 70% of screen width. I run 1024x768x32bit colour on a calibrated top quality Eizo F56 CRT monitor,

    Q1: 720 is 70% of 1024 so does that explain the smaller pic, and what of full screen on my 28inch TV and perhaps better quality ? Are TVs 720px wide ?

    I rated result as 7/10 quality of focus, colour saturation and accuracy happy with. First impression was not as good as I am used to seeing on the domestic 28inch TV when ‘corder plays straight into it via S-video lead. Edges of shapes and text etc not so well defined I thought as if a compression or loss of quality was at play. I see slight pixelly sparkle along edges when look close.

    I tried Windows Media Player and again 70% width and quality 5/10.
    Quicktime player worse at quality 3/10.

    Plumbed ‘corder into TV using S-video lead and got full screen on the 28inch TV and looking better than the monitor.
    Now is it an optical illusion, will I see the TV pic quality when the DVD I need to make gets played onto a TV. That involves compression to mpeg2 I gather so will that be worse. I do not have such a player attached to the TV, only on my PC and not sure if I can plumb that into the TV ! Clients want DVD.

    I always thought that footage played onto the PC monitor looked superior as I have seen a DVD movie on it and its awesome. For VCR playback and live TV I tried the WinTVgo card, I don’t recall the resulting picture being superior to the TV but that card is not the best.

    I then played the camcorder onto the monitor via my WinTVgo card and saw the same quality footage ‘live’ as the avi playback gave with the Audigy….remember though the card quality. Tried a recording via WinTVgo and yuk, qlty 2/10 and colour saturation weak.
    I have a sealion show MiniDV recording on the PC which looks v good, again 70% screen width, so how did I achieve that, I cant remember though I make notes but finding them can be fun !

    Q2: I understand that MiniDV footage is already digital so there is no conversion going on, but can quality of recording be lowered during capture and how do I avoid this ?

    Q3: are my settings correct, I cant see 1024x768 frame size so is 720x586 the norm ?
    Q4: can I adjust saturation and levels/contrast during capture or afterwards ?
    Q5: Is there a way of testing that all is as expected, any test card type avi’s to download and play perhaps to check monitor and player ?

    Note A:
    I found that audio recording was 12bit by default on my Leica lensed Panasonic MX8 MiniDV camcorder, perhaps I should reset this to 16bit)

    Envirographics
     
  2. Roy Mallard

    Roy Mallard
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    Max resolution for UK PAL footage is 720 horizontal by 576 vertical (although 625 is the broadcast maximum, 50 lines are used for teletext information).

    The pixels on your pc monitor are square, the pixels on the camcorder are 'non square', with a vertical to horizontal ratio of 1:1.01....... this means that for a video picture to appear in regular aspect without distortion the window size should be 768 x 576, or a proportion thereof.

    On a widescreen TV the resolution is still 720 x 576, although the pixels now have a ratio of 1:1.44....., to retain 16:9 aspect without distortion your PC preview window should be 1024 x 576.

    The preview window will be at preview quality in order save RAM, packages such as Premiere do not edit your source footage, it makes a kind of map using the timecodes as corordinates. It's only really when you render for output that a full quality version is assembled.

    Change your audio to 16bit/48khz for best results (you lose the ability to record a second sountrack ovr your footage, but this is all suff you can do in Premiere with far more control and far better results).

    Your footage will be captured as AVI, if you output to DVD it ill be converted to MPEG2, which has higher compression.

    Given that your getting 1gb for 5 mins your setings sound fine.

    You can alter contrast, colour etc in post, again it's probaly better to do this after capture.

    In your capture window in premiere it will give you all the settings, it should specify any further compression there, if you are using the default settings then there shouldn't be any further compresion from that which oocurs in the camcorder (a ratio of 8:1 for DV AVI).
     
  3. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Well Roy has covered most of the technical details fairly well, but no mention of a PC monitor abilities.

    A PC monitor is designed for higher resolution display but with a lower colour palet. A TV is the reverse with fairly low resolution and unlimited colours. For these reasons a full motion video file will never look as good on a PC monitor. For adjustments to the PQ you need to have a TV monitor connected to the PC, otherwise the final output will look very different once played back on a TV screen.

    Mark.
     
  4. Merlin

    Merlin
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    Roy, thanks for replying.
    You say < The preview window will be at preview quality in order save RAM, packages such as Premiere do not edit your source footage, it makes a kind of map using the timecodes as corordinates. It's only really when you render for output that a full quality version is assembled.>

    As I understand it then (excuse me if I havent grapsed this quite :blush: ), the avi file that was captured is not full quality, so I need to 'render for output' using Premiere (see note B) so as to let the full quality of the recording made onto the MiniDV tape shine through. Will this rendered file still be avi, or what ?
    The original AVI quality looked 7/10 on the Audigy2 player and worse on WinMedia and Quicktime. Would all three now show a fine picture when fed this rendered file ? (as fine as a monitor is capable of ?)
    You say the preview window uses preview quality to save RAM, this I take it is Premieres preview window, I was however using the players mentioned above, are they ram conscious or should they display the full glory of the file ?

    Sorry but I am slightly puzzled and not quite grasping this....being a newbie :blush:

    MarkE19...your reply stunned me a bit, I do graphics and use photoshop and have monitor set to 32bit colour which I always understood was 'millions' of colours, I never have any complaints when viewing pictures, they look totally real. The whole purpose of Pshop and 32 bit being to work with all possible colours. I am gobsmacked to know that a domestic TV can outgun our graphics setup on colour range ! One learns something every day. Puzzled though that the monitor is capable of showing superb pics and all sorts of subtle shades but a TV is required to adjust the PQ (sorry ...what is PQ ???). I never realised that installing Premiere required a TV in place of my monitor in order to adjust colour balance etc. Is this what most editors do ?
    Sorry but dumb question coming up :confused: ...how does one attach a TV to a PC, TVs have coaxial and PC's video cards have a 15pin socket. Love to know as then my flight sim or F1 sim would look great on a big screen (28inch trad shape)

    Note B: Guess I must read up on how to render with Premiere, I thought I now just converted the avi to mpeg2 using Pinnacle InstantDVD or another prog...of which....
    a friend says about DVD creation...I needed to use three pieces of software to get it too work for me, the first one is called TMPGEnc Plus 2.5, which allows u to encode the piece of video you want to burn very easily, just choose DVD pal off the list. Then when you have that use another piece called.TMPGEnc DVD Author which creates the neccessary vob files and sets it all up ready to burn, then I burnt those within Nero, and voila it worked (eventually lol).

    Must admit I am a little unclear of the next steps from avi to DVD in the hand. :lease:

    Envirographics
     
  5. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    OK lets try and clear a few things up.

    If you capture to an AVI file then it is a 100% quality capture. The low quality is down to Premiere saving the working memory of the PC (ie RAM) by only displaying a low resolution picture in the preview window (hence my comment on connecting a TV to the PC).
    When you render Preniere will create a new AVI file cutting out the unwanted bits and adding in fades/text etc. This will also be a 100% copy, just without the unwanted bits etc.

    Its all down to memory and bandwidth. If you had a very high spec graphics card with loads of memory and on the new PCI plus connection, powerful CPU, loads of system RAM etc etc then you may start to get close, but the monitor is still not designed to display it the same as a TV. It is always a compromise between resolution and number of colours. And this does not cover the further problem of refreshing the screen every 50ms.

    Sorry, getting carried away - PQ = Picture Quality

    The TV is not instead of a monitor, but as well as. The TV only displays the video output, you still need the monitor to display your desktop. Most (if not all) editors would have a TV connected to see the real results during editing, as has been mentioned the monitor only shows a preview screen.
    The TV is connected to the PC via a TV output on the graphics card, or if the camcorder has DV-in enabled you can keep the cam connected by firewire and connect the TV to the cam. My capture card has analogue outputs so I just use that for TV monitoring. It all depends on the equipment you have, but as with all things on a PC there is more than 1 way to do just about everything.

    It all depends on the software you have. With the right plugins fro Premiere you can do it all from there. Otherwise you can buy a standalond DVD authoring program that takes the edited AVI files and does all the conversion and creates the disk including chapters and menus.

    Hope I have cleared a few things up. If however I have just muddied the waters even more then I do appologise. If you let me know where I have confused the issues I will try and clear things up (or perhaps Roy etc will be along to help as well).

    Mark.
     
  6. Merlin

    Merlin
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    Thanks Mark for replying...understanding all this is like detective work/large jigsaw...bit scary in fact...guess you remember what it was like ? Can I rely on you for just a little more guidance on this please as offered, I feel I am close to 'knowing it now', thanks.

    Do you use Premiere by the way ?

    I was however playing back the avi with Audigy2, WinMediaPlayer and Quicktime made a worse mess of it. These progs are not intelligent with a low RAM demanding preview mode though. Would it be that what I saw was as good as it gets from that avi unless they were to play it back on an attached TV ?

    I am I think understanding what 'render' is. Simply capturing and playing back an avi file does not involve or need render in Premiere. Render does not improve image quality unless such actions are selected from menus. To edit bits in/out then play it back is a render as is also to add special effects then playback the results. A render does not involve a save of the render unless such was selected. When happy, save the file...now does that render yet again during or just before the actual save I wonder ?

    I am still unsure if I need to get a good codec like the Sony one CMulder found in another thread, to put into Premiere, or if Premiere already has one. The manual says this: Your computer also needs a DV codec, which is provided in software as part of the operating system, or as a hardware chip on some capture cards. Premiere includes support for DV codecs and can read digital source video without further conversion.

    I do not have a capture card as such, was told I didnt need one and having captured my first avi footage this appears so.

    If I run with Premiere 'as is', it retains the codec applied to the footage when first made onto the MiniDV tape...as you say a 100% capture, and still retains it after I have done some editing, is this correct ?
    By installing a Sony codec which lets say was superior to the codec in the Panasonic camcorder, would that create a superior avi after the editing was done during the render ? Could it even improve the raw capture or does only the coded kick in during a render ?...which would not happen during initial capture.

    Please advise...I am not quite there on this codec thing yet am I (embarrased smilie if they worked...see P.S. !)


    My spec: Pentium 3.4Ghz 2Gb Corsair DDRAM Video card an MSI GeForce 5950 ultra with256Mb, Mbd MSI 875P Neo, EizoF56 CRT monitor.

    I cannot carry my 28inch TV upstairs so will have to trust in the fact that the avi will display better when played on it. I shall start saving up for a small portable I guess.

    I thought Premiere was sufficient. Now would it be better to get plugins for it to do the encoding and DVD authoring (is the latter possible ?) or would I be better to get this TMPGEnc Plus 2.5, which allows u to encode the piece of video you want to burn very easily I am told Then use another piece called.TMPGEnc DVD Author which creates the necessary vob files and sets it all up ready to burn. Which is cheaper, better quality and easier to use ?

    Merlin

    P.S every time I click on a smilie this reply text jumps up and nothing gets entered , needs a grrrrr smilie here !!!
     
  7. MartinImber

    MartinImber
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    One other thing

    Monitors are progressive and TVs are interlaced
     
  8. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Yes, but I use an old version. Only on Premiere 6.0

    Different programs handle the output of video to a better or worse extent. The 2 above that you mention are more designed for low quality web based video playback, so may not be the best for full quality AVI even though they can play these files.

    When editing you are not actually working directly with the AVI files, but a copy in memory. When you edit bits out, add fades etc the PC just makes a list of what goes where. After you have finished (or at any time during the edit) you tell the program to render the changes. It is this that creates a new file that can then be saved. If you have not rendered the footage then you can still save the changes, but you are saving the list of changes and not creating a new AVI file[/quote]

    You already have a codec for DV files installed as per: Your computer also needs a DV codec, which is provided in software as part of the operating system. Without a codec you would not be able to see even a bad quality playback of your AVI files. The codec supplied as part of Windows XP is the only one I have ever needed & used!

    If the DV port on your soundcard works for you then that is all you need. I have a dedicated capture card with a hardware codec on it that is better, but a lot more expensive. You could add a basic firewire card for around £10, but again if what you already have works then why bother!

    Don't worry about installing another codec. The one you have does work!
    The AVI files don't contain a codec, they were created with one. The codec in a camcorder can not be changed and as long as it works ok then there is no need to worry (ie the picture looks good on the TV therefore the codec must be ok). Once on a PC the codec used to create the AVI files is what decides on how the file was compressed (ie which bits were changed etc). Think of a codec as when you 'zip' a file to make it smaller before you e-mail it etc. Well Winzip etc is just a compression codec the same as a DV codec.

    As I have said above, I use an older version of Premiere. Maybe the newer version includes DVD authoring, or maybe you already have a DVD authorin plugin.

    Mark.
     
  9. Merlin

    Merlin
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    Mark
    Thanks for replying, 'got it' now.....

    I am Premiere 6.5 with MPEG encoder 1.1 No real differences visible on monitor or file size for bitrate 6000 qlty 39 to 8000 qlty 45 PAL DVD or PAL MPEG2 from viewing single combinmed files on PC but what might TV show I wonder. All settings gave a 1mm soft motion blur on edges of items and humans moving whilst static items looked okay. Hope this goes when seen on TV, could it be due to no interlacing (Martin ?). 25fps and qlty 45 bitrate 8000 constant or variable made no difference for monitor viewing. No choice but to burn and waste DVDs experimenting so as to see on a friends TV ! Wish I had a portable TV or a DVD player under the TV to view footage on, start saving up.

    Tried upping that to 1.4.2 but activation code rejected, odd that as it activated the 1.1 for me Friday !

    Nothing much but praise on net for MCs MPEG encoder which is bundled with Premiere so shall run with that.

    Now dabbling with MPEG encoding settings and pondering on what prog to use to combine the two files PAL DVD creates, on what PAL DVD is versus PAL MPEG2 ...always something else to learn ! :rolleyes:

    Premiere 6.5 pdf talks of DVDit to do the final stage of combining vid and sound files then burning. I shall either install that (if its on the CD) or get this TMPEnc DVD author prog if it does same but better. What do you use ?

    Getting there slowly :clap:

    Merlin
     
  10. Roy Mallard

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    Top tip!.

    Edit your movie in Premiere, then export as an AVI file, saving it on your video drive (if you have two hard drives, if not save it in 'My Video's'.

    Premiere will prompt a render when you do this.

    Your edited movie will now be one big AVI file which can be taken into most other authoring applications (I find Pinnacle Studio very good for DVD authoring).

    I run an engineering monitor patched off of my capture deck (although a telly ran off a camcorder would work just as well), I haven't used Premiere 6.5, was running 6, now run Pro 1.5, so I don't know if you can run both your application monitor window and have an external monitor both running at fiull motion. 6 didn't allow this, Pro 1.5 does. On 6 when the vcr was connected though firewire I got full motion playback when previewing. You should be able to get same on your camcorder and connected TV set.

    One other huge benefit of running an external monitor is you get a real world view of action and title safe (although premiere can have these on screen, check display settings, if you don't find them too much of a distraction).
     
  11. Merlin

    Merlin
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    Roy,
    Good advice, I shall dabble and see what works. Just been playing the Premiere Workshop CD and wow !...cant wait !....he is playing back to camcorder at times...is that as good as using a TV ( for sussing true quality and blur etc) if one accepts that the screen size will be small on a fold out screen ?
    DV control from Premiere is extremely useful I can see. Failed to get far with that, was greyed out, so shall try again choosing from dropdowns etc.

    I hope somewhere in Premiere there is the ability to adjust contrast and curves, levels, unsharp mask etc as I am used to in photoshop. My footage needs a tweak.

    Merlin :)
     
  12. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Like Roy I do all the editing in Premiere and then save the project as a single AVI file. I then inport that file into Ulead DVD Movie Factory 3 to author the DVD. This is IMO very quick & easy and gives good results.

    Mark.
     
  13. MartinImber

    MartinImber
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    You ought to see the tearing you get with fast pans - you wonder if it will ever look OK on the TV!
     
  14. Merlin

    Merlin
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    Thanks MarkE19 and Roy for avi advice,
    From your experiences I shall in that case create avi's. The chance to re-edit or use a portion in another edit makes sense.

    Premiere uses MainConcept MPEGencoder accessible through File>Export Timeline or Export Clip. Before seeing the post on Ulead, and only using the bundled version 1.1 of MainConcept MPEG encoder, I see a special offer saving $100 to get the latest 1.4.2 standalone. Reviews on the net were in very high praise, 10/10, peeps saying tried many but this is the best, so of course I plumped for it given the special offer currently running.

    I am not sure though if installing it requires removal of 1.1 via add/rem progs as one must do if upgrading to 1.3beta using Adobe downloads free upgrade ?

    Have I just negated the need for Ulead (hope they have a demo) or is it still of use in taking the MPEG video and audio files, combining and burning to DVD.

    TMPGenc 2.5 is now not of use as I have MCs 1.4.2 but TMPG DVD author may be ? Mark, does your use of Ulead come as a result of comparing to TMPGenc and author ?

    One thing that has me confused :confused: from earlier advice a while ago I am told to write video to DVD it must be MPEG2,...but, in MC's encoder standard interface I see PAL DVD, giving MPEG for video and PCM 48KHz for sound in the info panel and bitrate 8000 and qlty 39 if looking in advanced. In advanced though I also see in a drop down list PAL MPEG2 as well as PAL DVD. Choosing the PAL MPEG2 I get Video stream type MPEG2 and audio MPEG layer 2 44.1KHz CRC off and other stuff in the info panel, bitrate 6000K and qlty39 I recall. Which one should I be using I wonder ?

    Talk of luck, someone is giving away a portable TV for free, fine condition apparently, yet to see if it has s-video in, hope so as my vid card has s-vid and phono out for tv.

    Merlin :clap:
     
  15. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    No, I picked Ulead over other products due to great reviews for it in Computer Video Editing mag and the fairly cheap price. This is the only software I have ever used for DVD authoring.
    A demo of it can be downloaded and used free for 30 days from www.ulead.co.uk

    Mark.
     

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