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Video capture - poor quality

R

Rkid

Guest
Hi

I bought the Sony DCRHC96 due to it being the top of the range in its class.
Therefore I expected great picture quality.

But when I capture from my camcorder to my pc, the picture quality is extremely poor. I am using Windows Movie Maker to capture and doing it via USB.

Now I have been told that capturing via USB does affect picture quality, and the only way to preserve quality is via Firewire.
If this is true then great, but I cant see how.
Surely Firewire will just transfer quicker and not help preserve picture quality.

Is this true?
What else could be affecting picture quality?
When I view the movie on the camcorder, the quality is excellent. It just seems transfer destroys it.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid said:
Hi

I bought the Sony DCRHC96 due to it being the top of the range in its class.
Therefore I expected great picture quality.

But when I capture from my camcorder to my pc, the picture quality is extremely poor. I am using Windows Movie Maker to capture and doing it via USB.

Now I have been told that capturing via USB does affect picture quality, and the only way to preserve quality is via Firewire.
If this is true then great, but I cant see how.
Surely Firewire will just transfer quicker and not help preserve picture quality.

Is this true?
What else could be affecting picture quality?
When I view the movie on the camcorder, the quality is excellent. It just seems transfer destroys it.

Firewire, will get you a more sustained video transfer rate essential for best quality : It is true
. Forget usb as a video transfer method .It is on your camcorder to allow you transfer stills which you can do just as easily if they are on a memory stick and you have a usb card reader.
USB2 does infact have a theoretically faster speed than firewire but for sustained speed needed for smooth video transfer Firewire is it

I do have a USB2 breakout box ( BOB )for video transfer from various sources including analogue with Avid Liquid 7™ & but that is really in a completely different league.

However ,Your transffered poor PQ is probably not related to usb transfer .
It is more likely because you are not transfering the video footage from tape to PC in WMM as DV AVI.
WMM guides you to using "best for PC" which invariably is a wmv file : highly compressed compared to the file on the tape

Have a look at the pic in This post
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Hi senu


Thanks for the heads up. Im pretty new to camcorders to sorry If im sounding a little slow. Im picking things up though!!


I will pick up a firewire cable. Have looked on pixmania website and there seems to be a plethura of cables. I thought a firewire cable was a firewire cable, but pixmania state "this one is for use with ps2", "this one is for use with camcorders" etc etc. The sony camcorder one is £23....what!!!
Can I just buy one of the cheaper ones or it it better sticking with the sony one?


Also, can you capture to AVI format using WMM.
WHen I transferred my movie, it ended up as a wmv filetype and I couldn't find a setting which allowed me to switch file types.
Have I just missed the feature or does it not exist with WMM
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Hi Senu


Forget part of my last post. Yes I know you can select AVI for WMM transfer.
I have just seen your other link.

What I will say is that when I got to that screen, the AVI option was greyed out.

Any ideas as to why????


Cheers
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid said:
What I will say is that when I got to that screen, the AVI option was greyed out.

Any ideas as to why????

Perhaps its because you were not using firewire, the software is simply assuming the capture device ( camcorder) does not have a firewire output option or maybe its because there is no "activated" onboard input "firewire" on your PC:
Windows XP often senses a firewire connection in much the same way it recognises when you plug in a USB device

Why dont you try out your camcorder on a friend PC or laptop with firewire.?

The cables you can get anywhere . Sonys will probably be (as usual :rolleyes: ) overpriced I dont think Sonys cable has anything superior to justify a higher asking price but buy it if it makes you happy.:eek:
Im not a great fan of pixmania (BTW)
You are right :firewire is firewire .
Any Computer shop or Comet/ Currys ,PC World should have them. the differences are in the 4-pin/ 6 pin connection :this determines which cable you get: I dont have a PS2 so Im not sure what pixmanias description means

Camcorders have the 4 pin connection: laptops ,SFF PCs and some Desktops also have 4 pin: Most Desktops have a ( larger) 6 pin connector . If the PC doesnt have onboard firewire, there are cheaply available PCI cards which can come with both types of connectors : That is what determines what cable you get. It really is not complicated : 4 pin to 4 pin or 4 pin to 6 pin:)
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Hi Senu


Yes, thinking about it you may well be right. If not using firewire, the option for AV format probably wont be available.

My laptop has a firewire 4-pin port therefore it must have a "activated onboard input firewire on my PC" as you say.

Therefore if I just go buy a firewire cable, all my problems with quality should in theory be resolved.


Thanks again senu, youv'e been a great help!!:thumbsup:
 

evans

Established Member
Rkid

Nerovision express is quite a good program for capture, many options and very easy once you get the firewire cable. I have a fairly cheap firewire cable and produces great results so I wouldnt fork out for the sony cable. The information is digital anyway so there wouldnt be any difference.
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Before I get started, thanks to my previous replies, I am really starting to get somewhere now.

I bought a firewire and have successfully managed to capture from my camcorder to my pc.


Just 2 things I need to clear up.

1) The footage I recorded was only 40mins long, yet when I attempted to transfer using WMM, after I had transfered half of it, I got a message to say that the filesize had reached the maximum 4GB limit and would therefore not transfer anymore.

So I captured 20 mins into one AVI movie and the last 20mins I had to capture in another 20min movie.
The total of those files came to approx 8GB.

This to me sounds like an insane filesize. Why are the filesizes so big?
If I capture to WMV the quality is rubbish, so I have to capture to AVI.


Now whats even more weird, is when I used Nero Vision to write to DVD, when I placed those two movies into a new project, the total filesize came to 1GB and fit perfectly onto a DVD.
When I wrote to DVD and watched it later, there was a little blip between where the first movie ended and the second movie began which was a little annoying.

Can anyone explain this.


2) The picture quality is good when watching the DVD, but when I sat close to the TV, The quality isn't perfect. Its still a little pixelated.
Am I expecting too much? I expected crystal clear images.

The reason I opted for the Sony DCRHC96 was because its the top of the range in its class, I just expected the quality to be tip top!

Is it possible to capture as another file format that gives good quality??
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid said:
Is it possible to capture as another file format that gives good quality??

Simply No ..

It is however possible to capture your video as mpeg2 directly ( limiting file sizes to 4.7Gb for 1 hr) .This is called "encoding on the fly" and some software support this. Any further manipulation of the captured file may however result in drop in PQ


DV AVI file sizes are large: 7min= 1Gb and for 1 hr 13Gb. because they are such good quality, they can be edited and manipulated without loss in PQ . They are not a storage format and should be deleted after use, or if edited recorded back to DV tape for archiving

You keep going back to wmv :) As stated before it is good for viewing on the PC and online hosting or streaming but not for anything else . Unless of course, you have wmv HD and have HTPC for TV viewing.
Using small files like that is like photgraphing a postage stamp with a mobile phone camera and viewing it on a 50" TV:eek:

The format that DVD contains is mpeg2. Mpeg1 is for video CD. Mpeg 2 for PAL DVD has to be a certain pixel size and encoded at a specific range of bitrates to be DVD specific. .( 720 x 576 , frame rate 25fps Bitrates 4-9 mb/sec)
A normal DVD has 4.7G b for 1 hr of best PQ video
In order to go from 13gb to 4.7gb ( DV AVI to mpeg2) software or hardware have to compress the video file whilst retaining Good PQ. This very efficient compression process is called mpeg encoding.
Encoders are not made equal and the resulting DVD PQ depends in part on quality of the encoder , parameters set during encoding ( boring stuff like bitrates .. , single or 2 pass, variable or constant bitrates:boring: ) as well as quality of starting material.There are cheap , expensive and middle of the road standalone encoders or they are plug-in programs which work within other software such as Nero.

The DVDs from shops, Blockbusters also have mpeg2 but the very high quality starting material and professional encoding process ensure that they look crystal clear even after encoding . This is very hard to duplicate at home but explains why the software have different prices. Nero is simply doing the best it can with what you gave it

Unless you are still using the FAT32 file system on your PC there is no reason why you should have a file size limit of 4Gb. NTFS does not limit you unless the software does.

The PQ as viewed on your TV is a combination of many things, from starting PQ to how badly the encoding process has degraded your footage. The settop DVD players ability to decode the mpeg stream ( on DVD) and deinterlacing of video are other factors

Have a quick read at this thread
and this other one
to see what has been discussed before regarding this
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
DV is a “lightly” compressed format (compared to MPEG for DVD). DV is approx 12 to 13 GB per hour. So 8 GB for 40 minutes is right.

4 GB limit: Discs formatted as FAT have a 4 GB limit. Change to NTFS and there is no limit.

Quality: Have you watched the footage directly from the camcorder (using the S-video output)? That is as good as it will get. If you use a good bitrate and encoder when creating the DVD it should look more or less as good as the original.

Which brings me to the point of 1 GB size on the DVD? If it is a 40 minute video and you used the maximum bit rate it would be around 2.9 GB. Or was it 1 GB for 20 mins? 1 GB for 20 mins would be OK (though you could use a slightly higher rate), 1 GB for 40 mins would be low quality.

Lastly… and I don’t mean to offend.. .but if you sit very close to the screen any footage will look pixilated.
 
R

Rkid

Guest
redsox_mark said:
Which brings me to the point of 1 GB size on the DVD? If it is a 40 minute video and you used the maximum bit rate it would be around 2.9 GB. Or was it 1 GB for 20 mins? 1 GB for 20 mins would be OK (though you could use a slightly higher rate), 1 GB for 40 mins would be low quality.


Hi mark

Re: the maximum bit rate. Where/when do I control this.
At the capture stage or at the DVD Write/encoding stage.

I didnt notice any options to select in Nero that allowed me to control bit rate. Have I just been blind and missed it?


Also, as asked in my previous message, I dont understand how when I captured the movie, in total it came to approx 8GB yet when added to the nero project, it came to approx 1GB.

Is that what NERO will be compressing it to?
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
You set the bitrate at the encoding stage. As I (and Senu) explained, DV is approx 13 GB per hour. That is what you capture, that is why it is 8 GB. MPEG2 (for DVD) at best quality is 4.7 GB (using a base 10 calculation of GB... it's really more like 4.3 GB per windows). It is Nero you are using to create your MPEG2 output, right? So that is what is creating the smaller 1 GB file.

The thing with MPEG2 for DVD is you can vary the compression, based on the bitrate. So while DV is always 13 GB per hour, a 4.7 GB DVD can hold 1 hour at best quality, or 6 hours at low quality.... or anything inbetween. Or looking at the other way - a one hour MPEG2 file can be 4.7 GB (best quality), or could be much smaller.... at expense of quality.

I don't use Nero so I can't tell you how to set the bitrate; others can. But if 40 minutes is coming out a 1 GB, that would mean a bitrate of about 3100 kbps, which is fairly low quality. I'm surprised that Nero would default to such a low setting.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid,
Although my earlier post seems a bit elaborate, it was intensionally so to give you a bit of grounding as well as actually answer your questions

I seldom use Nero Vision myself but occasinally due to an extended role at work I find myself teaching people these packages ( they ( wrongly;) ) assume that if any one can suss them out I will :rotfl: )

When you get to the burn options screen, open up "chose more" this will reveal a "video options" icon: select this then go to DVD video in the dialogue box
Chosing custom under transcoding quality allows you alter the bitrate
The screenshots from Nero vision 4 below shows how you can alter the bitrate. I would however suggest you chose high quality transcoding rather than automatic. High quality gets you the best PQ
There are 5 other screen shots I can send as email attachments ( if you wish) If you pm me with an email address .They are small highly reduced 50- 80k files
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
Senu,

What I don't understand is why Nero, with default settings (since Rkid didn't try to change them) produced a file size of 1 GB for a 40 min file. That would be a very low bitrate. Any ideas?
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Nero vision 4 has automatic settings, this seems to produce a "standard" PQ Less than High PQ settings which ( in my little test case) selected a bitrate of 8000kbit/sec. :
other settings are:
Standard: 5073 kbit/s ( 120 mins)
Long play: 3382 kbit/s (180 mins)
Extended 2537 kbit/s (240mins)
There is an superlong mode not worth bothering about
The bitrates are selectable manually with "custom" transcoding quality chosen
Automatic uses a VBR between the "standard" and "Long play"
There is also the option of high quality 2 pass Vbr for encoding
.
Like you, I too would have thought the software would default to best bitrate possible but it apparently doesnt on the automatic default settings.
What I did was look thru each of my chosen video clips ( a mixture of DV avi and 1 mp4), and noticed it had applied standard settings to the both DV avi clips and long play to the mp4 despite only using up about 800mb of the 4.7 gb. When I selected high quality , it then changed the trascoding/ encoding parameters to high on all the clips and asked if I wanted to make that the default setting.
Obviously if Nero vision were my day to day tool i would chose yes and only change it if needed .
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
Senu,

Interesting. So from the data supplied (40 min file = 1 GB filesize) it looks like the "Long Play" bitrate was used. That would impact the quality.

That and as you said the HC96 is a fine consumer camcorder, but we aren't talking about professional equipment here. And other factors such as the lighting come into play.
 
R

Rkid

Guest
redsox_mark said:
I don't use Nero so I can't tell you how to set the bitrate; others can. But if 40 minutes is coming out a 1 GB, that would mean a bitrate of about 3100 kbps, which is fairly low quality. I'm surprised that Nero would default to such a low setting.


Using WMM, the auto selected bitrate is always 25Mbps.
There is no options for changing this anywhere with WMM that I can see.
Is 25Mbps high or low quality?
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
25Mbps is the size of the original DV-avi - it is fixed at this size. It is the full original quality. It is not a rate that can be used when you encode to DVD.
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Im not sure why Neros Vision 4™ in auto mode has chosen the most mediocre output, It can be offputting for a beginner to need to adjust bitrates and encoder settings when all he wants is to go from camcorder to DVD with minimal loss in PQ
Still, If one deselects automatic and instead choses the High PQ settings, it offers to change these to the default
 
R

Rkid

Guest
redsox_mark said:
Quality: Have you watched the footage directly from the camcorder (using the S-video output)? That is as good as it will get. If you use a good bitrate and encoder when creating the DVD it should look more or less as good as the original.


hi Mark


yes I have watched the footage directly from my camcorder (using S-Video output) and the quality is excellent.
It just seems after transfer, the quality degrades.

I will try senu's advice to alter the bitrate and let you know how I get on!
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid,
You seem to be ignoring my last post.:) If its too Techie Ill try and make it simpler;)
If you do go into Nero visions setting and chose custom you will see the range of usable encoding bitrates for DVD mpeg encoding
Too low is no good and too high ( above 9000kb/sec) may bring compatibility issues with some DVD players. I would simply change the setting from automatic to High quality given the "results" of my little experiment
Can i suggest that you download a trail version of DVD MovieFactory5 Here

or If you wish i can post you an old ver 4 ( still good) which may bypass some of the issues you are having with nero
PS: check your email
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Hi Guys

Thanks for all the advice. Have now followed and fully understood all your instructions for writing movies to DVD in higher bitrates for improving PQ.
Have found all the different options re: higher bitrates.


But Im still having capturing probs.
If I use WMM, I can only capture upto 20mins (4GB).
Then I have to create a 2nd movie for the next 20 mins.
I understand that may be a NTFS v FAT32 issue re max filesizes but I dont want to go down that road just yet.


So, I tried capturing with Nero Vision.
This allows me to capture all 40mins of the movie without having any filesize issues like WMM gives me. Great!!!

But When I completed the entire capture, it creates 3 movie files for some reason.
1 called NVECapture, 1 called NVECapture.nv00 and another called NVECapture.nvavi.

When I try and add these files to a project for writing to DVD, they do not appear in the file browser when "all supported video files" is selected.
Therefore I have to select view all filetypes.

Then the three files appear. When I add them, the NVECapture file will not add to the project, the other two do, but they both appear to be exactly the same movie, and when I preview them, they do not play well at all. They are very jerky and keep stoppping and starting.

When I captured, I selected the "DVD" template, and selected DVD-Type1.
Im not sure if that is correct BTW.


Im now tearing my hair out and about to kick the camcorder around the room.
Now I fully understand how to write to DVD and alter bitrate & quality settings, but am really struggling to capture successfully.

Senu, if poss, the steps you did for writing were great, could you do some steps for capturing with Nero because I must be doing it incorrectly.
Sorry to be cheeky, but im going crazy!!!
 

redsox_mark

Distinguished Member
Hopefully Senu can continue to help you with Nero… but I can comment on a couple of points.

It sounds like you are having Nero convert DVD (MPEG2) format on the fly. As MPEG2 is more compressed the file size will be smaller, hence you don’t hit the 4 GB limit. But really you are better off capturing the DV-avi unchanged, and editing this, for the following reasons:

- DV is much easier to process if editing. The fact that you have converted to MPEG2 on capture is why “They are very jerky and keep stoppping and starting.”.
- It depends on the speed of your PC as well, but to encode from DV to MPEG2 with quality generally takes more than real time speed. If you convert “on-the-fly” when capturing you may not get the best quality.

You can continue to try and convert to MPEG2 on the fly and deal with that, but really the best solution is to:

- Change your HDD to NTFS
- Use a proper editing/authoring program which can capture the DV-avi (unaltered – simply copy it), and allow you to edit (if needed) and then convert to MPEG2/DVD.
 
R

Rkid

Guest
Hi Mark


Yes, Nero does convert to MPEG2 on the fly doesn't it. I didn't think about that....DOH!!!!


WMM does a straight DV-AVI, which is great, but obviously I have the 4GB limit thing. Have been down the road of changing my HD to NTFS before and wanted to avoid that is poss!!!

Do you know of a way of performing a straight DV-AVI with Nero.
Or is there any other software that will allow this such as WinDV etc etc.

I know I may have the 4GB limit issue with other software aswell, but I would
like to at least give it a try!!
 

senu

Distinguished Member
Rkid said:
Hi Mark


Yes, Nero does convert to MPEG2 on the fly doesn't it. I didn't think about that....DOH!!!!


WMM does a straight DV-AVI, which is great, but obviously I have the 4GB limit thing. Have been down the road of changing my HD to NTFS before and wanted to avoid that is poss!!!

Do you know of a way of performing a straight DV-AVI with Nero.
Or is there any other software that will allow this such as WinDV etc etc.

I know I may have the 4GB limit issue with other software aswell, but I would
like to at least give it a try!!
Hi,
Ill have a look at Nero in a minute but Changing from FAT to NTFS should not be not a big deal unless you have a dual boot system with Win 98. There is no benefit ( at all) if you have win xp
Win DV ( do you have it?) will do DV AVI direct.. as will most other NLE or DVD authoring software
For DVD authoring you only need the *avi or mpeg files. The software will turn these into vob files and create *.ifo and bup file which are menu navigational files and thier backups.
 

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