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Thread: Video Thread v.2...Switching Codecs Again

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    Video Thread v.2...Switching Codecs Again

    This is actually meant to be a follow-up to that old MP4 feedback thread, but as it's in the archives now I can't respond to it any more.

    I think I mentioned that I was experimenting with MP4 for low-end encoding and sharing. For the high-end I was using a new MP4 codec (techies call it H.264) which delivered superior quality to regular MP4. I think I've found an even better codec now. The newest version of the DivX Codec (6.2.5) I find to deliver the same or better quality than MainConcept's H.264 v2 codec at higher bitrates (>1.5Mbps). I encoded a segment of a skating video in both formats and I found the DivX codec to have much more accurate color reproduction...and it also seemed to handle the fast motion of the skater noticeably better (not blocking/blurring the picture as much) than H.264 v2.

    Now, note that this is not the Apple Quicktime version of H.264 (I've only tested that one on the "low-end"). This is the MainConcept version (.mpg) that I'm talking about.

    I also experimented with encoding videos in Widescreen (720x400 - 16:9) format as well (since I have widescreens all over the place now...including on my computer). It stretches the picture a little bit but I prefer using this format because it offers more of a "movie" experience. Definitely livened up the ESPN2 broadcast when I did it

    Yet another thing I tried is to upconvert a regular picture (normally 720x480) to 1280x720 (which is 720p HD). I get pretty decent results but of course the picture won't be nearly as sharp as true HD. I probably won't be doing that, though.

    So I think this season, starting with the Campbell's Classic I will be encoding my favorite skating videos in DivX Widescreen format instead of H.264. (DivX Player is also free, unlike the H.264 player so it can be shared as well). For the other ones I may continue to use Windows Media format, or I might use DivX but encode at a lower bitrate. The good thing is that unlike ESPN/ESPN2, ABC tends to have a nice, vibrant, sharp broadcast picture so I tend to get my best results with ABC videos. Let's just hope that now with ESPN running ABC sports the picture isn't reduced to "ESPN quality".

    Also did other little things but I don't think I need to expand on them...if I haven't lost you already
    Last edited by R.D.; 09-07-2006 at 12:16 AM.

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    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    I am glad to see you are using that, it seemed to be the fix for some of the videos that I had out that some members were unable to view. So they downloaded DivX and (relatively small in size program - mb wise) they were able to view it. It is also nice that just about any video file that you cave can be easily converted to .divx - like a mp4 can be dragged into the converter and give you the same quality as the original. DEE and MM gave some valuable feedback on the DivX back on the "Hit The Ice" thread. I guess I should have invited your feedback too RD.

    A interesting note, is that in the DivX "description," they state that some files can be playable even on a "game station" - like a Playstation or X-box. Haven't tried that yet but I found it interesting at least in the abilities of this file format. Very "friendly."

    As far as changing the aspect ratio going from 4:3 to a 16:9 - "stretching out" I have found bad results with that - while viewing a football game on my projector my friends noticed once the cheerleaders came on, they commented "they look a lot heavier then usual." My friend who works in Audio Visual said he noticed right away but didn't want to embarrass me for setting up the projector wrong. It added and extra foot in width of the image on the sceen, but they all wanted it at the intended ratio as soon as they noticed.

    The screen is nice and wide but the people are disproportionate - "squatty or scrunched" in the images. Now granted if you want someone like Sasha to seem like she is not as skinny, this works great. She might look like she is now 4'5" tall, but she will appear to have more meat on her bones.

    MTC.
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 09-07-2006 at 11:13 AM.

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    Sean - are you using the DivX Converter 6.x to make your DivX vids? Make sure you have the latest version as well (always update because they make improvements on the codec in each new version). For example, I found the DivX 6.2.5 codec to be noticeably better than the old DivX 6 codec, even though you'd think they'd practically be the same. The old DivX codecs were pretty bad but this latest version is much better. I think it definitely rivals MC H.264 v2 at high bitrates, and even gives H.264 a run for its money when encoding in HD (since DivX HD requires less processing power it can play on slower computers).

    As for a 16:9 picture, I guess it depends on your taste...definitely works for figure skating in my opinion. I'm generally used to watching Widescreen though so the stretched picture doesn't bother me too much. On some shows however it's better to leave it at 4:3.

    Now I must say I depise the opposite...for example if you were to scrunch a 16:9 picture into a 4:3 picture. Can't do that...a no-no for me. So I guess it depends on your taste.

    Another reason why I hated Windows Media for changing my 720x480 SD footage into 640x480- it scrunched the image. Yuck!
    Last edited by R.D.; 09-07-2006 at 11:24 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    Sean - are you using the DivX Converter 6.x to make your DivX vids? Make sure you have the latest version as well (always update because they make improvements on the codec in each new version). For example, I found the DivX 6.2.5 codec to be noticeably better than the old DivX 6 codec, even though you'd think they'd practically be the same.

    As for a 16:9 picture, I guess it depends on your taste...definitely works for figure skating in my opinion. I'm generally used to watching Widescreen though so the stretched picture doesn't bother me too much. On some shows however it's better to leave it at 4:3.

    Now I must say I depise the opposite...for example if you were to scrunch a 16:9 picture into a 4:3 picture. Can't do that...a no-no for me. So I guess it depends on your taste.

    Another reason why I hated Windows Media for changing my 720x480 SD footage into 640x480- it scrunched the image. Yuck!
    Yes I am staying current - that is good advice that is often overlooked.

    Yes taste is the issue, the way they really look or a "enhanced proportional distributer" That can enhance the cinema experience aspect. But I still feel the best way to enhance that is sound systems. But that of corse is JMO.

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    I think for most skating footage, Divx Home Theater, Widescreen, varied bit rate depending on skater and HD space (mainly staying between 1.3 and 3.5Mbps), will do just fine. Just stretch the picture from 720x480 to Widescreen 720x400. If I have time I may also try enlarging to 1280x720 (or 960x544). It's possible I may also leave some footage (such as fluff pieces or backstage footage) in 4:3 format.
    Last edited by R.D.; 09-07-2006 at 11:36 AM.

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    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaniBu View Post
    I guess I should have invited your feedback too RD.
    I guess I did.
    http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sho...hlight=hit+ice
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    What, were on vacation in Italy? I think you were.

    BTW, I totally agree with the WMP comment, I have been using Flip For Mac that opens all video files - except for .divx - with QT and haven't experienced that since then.

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    Sean - I think it was the title of the thread. I did go to Italy but that was back in early July.

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    Oh I forgot you have a Mac. Do they have divx converter 6.x for the Mac? I know when I had a Mac I was stuck with Divx 5

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    MY TVC 1 5 SeaniBu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    Oh I forgot you have a Mac. Do they have divx converter 6.x for the Mac? I know when I had a Mac I was stuck with Divx 5
    Yep.
    You got stuck???? More like they didn't need to re-write the script cause there were no problems playing in UNIX - J/K???

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    Did you think it was video of me getting that concussion attempting the bunny hop?

    An interesting thing is that MM mentioned how the files he watched looked better in DivX than in WMP yet the MP4 file I used was the same. To get it into .divx all I did was drag it into the converter and then posted it. So it seems that even converting a file to .divx is benefit for better viewing quality.

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    Well, what you're doing is TRANSCODING. This means compressing an already compressed, lossy format (like .wmv) to another compressed, lossy format (like DivX or MP4). I can't possibly see how the compressed Divx file could look BETTER than the original. At best it should look close to the same. I think by laws of physics that's just not possible.

    I bet it's the different settings in the media players...while a Divx file can play nicely in DivX Player, the same file sometimes can look washed out on another media player. Hmm...

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