Stupid DV CODEC question -- sorry if this has been asked before.

Discussion in 'Professional Video Production' started by Bexley, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Bexley

    Bexley Guest

    I just cut my first mini-DV project in Premiere. Then I colour-corrected,
    repositioned, and titled it in After Effects 5.0.

    I went back and saw the original footage and it is so much sharper and cleaner
    I'm really depressed.

    I used the Microsoft DV Codec to output from in AE. Is this my problem?

    What is the best DV codec for what I'm doing? Are there any Free-ware
    alternative Codecs that will work with Adobe products?

    Is there a comprehensive site that answers question like this?

    I'm sure this has been asked before, but a Google search isn't getting me far.


    Bexley, Jan 5, 2004
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  2. Clarify what YOU mean by "original footage".
    Do you mean the footage BEFORE you "color-
    correcred and repositioned", or the final output
    from Premiere?

    My first guess (since your question is ambiguous)
    is that the "color-correction and repositioning"
    is not as benign as you think it should be.
    Richard Crowley, Jan 5, 2004
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  3. Bexley

    henryf Guest

    What are you using as a video monitor? Tell me you aren't
    adjusting the colors so it looks best on your computer's screen.
    henryf, Jan 5, 2004
  4. Bexley

    Bexley Guest

    Right. To clarify -- I cut in Premiere, then imported the project file to AE.
    The "original footage" are the DV files on my drive, imported off the tape and

    All modifications (colour correction and frame-repositioning) to the footage
    were made in AE. There was no generation loss (no rendering) in Premiere. All
    the picture modifications were done in a single-pass render in AE.
    So to re-ask the question:

    I used the Microsoft DV Codec to output from in AE. Is this my problem?

    What is the best DV codec for what I'm doing? Are there any Free-ware
    alternative Codecs that will work with Adobe products?

    Is there a comprehensive site that answers question like this?

    I'm sure this has been asked before, but a Google search isn't getting me far.


    Bexley, Jan 5, 2004
  5. Bexley

    Bexley Guest

    LOL! That's <almost> exactly what I'm doing. I don't have a A-D converter so I
    can't get a video monitor hooked up (other reasons too), so I do a basic
    "levels" adjustment in AE, test render a couple of minutes and transfer to DVD,
    then watch it on the TV to get some idea of what's happening. This is tedious,
    but the results are reliable enough for what I'm doing -- I use a test pattern
    as part of the process. All the footage is of a single lighting set up and
    requires only a "master colour pass".

    What is disturbing is how badly the AE rendered image has deteriorated from the
    Camera footage in terms of sharpness, etc. I'm not worried about colour fidelity
    (I did some black and white tests, too), but that the entire image appears to be
    substantially degraded from the "camera original" still on my drive.

    To clarify: tape is transferred to PC. Editing in Premiere, then the Project
    file imported to AE (so no generation loss). All modifications are done in AE.

    Hence my Codec query. There is only one rendering pass, and therefore only one
    "compression" with the Microsoft DV codec -- so is this the culprit? Or is it
    the "repositioning" -- necessary due to operator framing errors -- also done in

    Any ideas?

    Bexley, Jan 5, 2004
  6. "Bexley" wrote ...
    Of course, since DV has an inherent 5:1 compression,
    AE has to decode, modify, and then re-encode the DV

    I've heard people recommend the UNCOMPRESSED
    "Huffy" codec to avoid just this kind of thing, but that
    requires a lot more disk space (around 5x! :)

    Note that if you are doing anything other than EXACTLY
    100% size during your "repositioning", the size change
    is likely causing much of your distress. Changing the
    size ALWAYS causes visible loss of quality and this
    is made worse because of DV (which you can't avoid
    as your source is already 5:1 compressed).
    Richard Crowley, Jan 5, 2004
  7. I have a Mac so I use Quicktime, Motion JPEG-b with no compression on
    audio. Of course this produces some ungodly file sizes, but I get a
    pretty good "copy".

    Instead of DV, you may have to try .AVI or .MOV (Quicktime).

    Also.. take a look at this site, they have a very large detailed archive
    of the difference between a lot of CODECS.

    Should be standard reading for everyone :)

    Richard Ragon, Jan 5, 2004
  8. Bexley

    RGBaker Guest

    I don't see how using the Huffy codec helps in this workflow -- either way,
    you have to recompress to DV, so your result is second generation .... which
    wouldn't ordinarily be a problem, in my experience, with colour correction.

    But I must agree with Richard -- there is nothing 'benign' about
    repositioning. It really doesn't matter what codec you use, or even if you
    are working with uncompressed -- your source video has a physical array of
    720x480 (NTSC) ... exactly that. A repositioning requires that every single
    pixel in the array be recalculated ... about as comprehensive a stress test
    as could be designed. If the 'repositioning' involves a modest zoom as
    well, then any shortcomings in your source are magnified.

    No matter how good your source camera, if you are recording to SD digital
    you are working with a fixed resolution of 720x480. If your source camera
    was actually delivering short of that -- and unless you have one of the
    handful of three chip camcorders, your source camera _was_ delivering less
    than that -- so the repositioning and reframing is working on a source file
    with less than the full resolution, and trying to calculate every pixel anew

    Save your reframing for in-camera, or use it sparingly in effects. Don't
    try and solve shooting errors in post.

    RGBaker, Jan 5, 2004
  9. Bexley

    henryf Guest

    Are you comparing a DVD of the camera original to a DVD of the
    AE version?

    DVDs use MPG2 compression, so making a DVD means that
    somewhere you're recompressing the DV-encoded video using
    MPG2. MPG2 video quality (like MP3 audio quality) can range
    anywhere from excellent to awful depending on the bit rate and
    other factors.
    henryf, Jan 5, 2004
  10. Bexley

    Seattle Eric Guest

    If I understand you correctly, are you actually examining PREMIERE'S output
    before it hits AE? If that's kaka, you know it's not AE.

    Try viewing the Premiere output on the actual video monitor before AE-- just
    crop it to make it work. That'll pinpoint the problem app.

    FWIW, M$ is a towering edifice of mediocrity, so avoiding their products as
    much as possible is a good general rule.
    Seattle Eric, Jan 5, 2004
  11. Bexley

    Seattle Eric Guest

    What's your intermediate encoding between Premiere and AE? Obviously, the way
    to go is NOT a DV codec, use something lossless.

    And that's gonna eat a LOT of disk space. C'est la guerre.
    Seattle Eric, Jan 5, 2004
  12. Bexley

    codecpage Guest

    On Mon, 5 Jan 2004 01:17:04 -0500, "Bexley"

    Microsoft's DV codec is not the best, but it should not cause such a
    very obvious quality loss.
    I recommend to try MainConcept's DV codec, anyway.
    A comparison is on my web page.

    What may seriously affect quality, is the handling of interlaced
    materiial. Filters may or may not work properly with it.
    Given the fact that hardly any of the 'pro' software packages ever
    knew how to deinterlace properly, anything could be suspected to
    More so, software developers spend lots of time developing zillions of
    'effects' but much less on filters that would improve quality.

    I would use VirtualDub (freeware) for what you are doing. It can't use
    Microsoft's DV codec but has a terrific selection of filters and as
    stated, I would use the MainConcept DV codec anyway.

    codecpage, Jan 6, 2004
  13. Bexley

    Mike T Guest

    About a year ago I did some testing of my Sony DV encoder (DVMC-DA2) and a
    Matrox G450 video card with TV out, using TV test signals. My conclusion
    was that the Sony hardware had very good high frequency response, less than
    10% loss at 5 MHz. The Matrox card have less than 10% loss at 5MHz when
    playing back DVD TV test signals. BUT when I played the DV captured test
    signals through the Matrox TV out using the Microsoft DV codec the output at
    5 MHz was down about 80%, I think the Microsoft DV codec is not very good
    for video resolution. I have not remeasured any codec again yet, so I don't
    know if the video bandwidth has been improved (not likely), and I did not
    measure any other codec like Main Concept yet.

    Mike T
    Mike T, Jan 6, 2004
  14. Bexley

    codecpage Guest

    This concentrates very much on Quicktime. There are better
    alternatives under Windows. (BTW, AVI and MOV are container formats,
    not codecs).
    For awesome quality, Huffyuv is good, but it goes far beyond any DVD
    or TV equipment would actually display or even what the eye can see at
    normal viewing distance (e.g. color resolution).
    That test picture is quite demandig though, so I have just added some
    results with Huffyuv, MC and MS (DX8.1) to my DV page. See there.
    codecpage, Jan 7, 2004
  15. Bexley

    Donald White Guest

    codecpage wrote:

    You have a very interesting site. Have you compared the Panasonic DV
    codec that floats around to the net to the MainConcept DV codec? I
    currently use VirtualDub with the Panasonic codec. If the MainConcept
    codec is better, I might use it. I use the MainConcept MPEG encoder and
    like it.


    Donald White, Jan 9, 2004
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