Monday, May 16, 2011

Using MPEG Streamclip for best web uploads

Find your copy of MPEG Streamclip, or download it here, and load your video you wish to compress and go to FILE, Export to MPEG-4

There are a whole bunch of considerations here.  I like to know how the clip was edited and what codec was used for the edit before I proceed but I will try to walk you through a DV Cam to H.264 conversion.  You will do things differently if you shot HD or if you know you edited in Pro Res or in progressive mode...

1. Make sure H.264 is selected

2. Set your quality slider to 100 percent

3. Set your Data Rate to 8 Mbs

4.  I said, "Mbs" not the alternatives.  This means "bits" not "Bytes."  You DON'T want Bytes, that would be super big and would be re-compressed depending on which service you are using.

5.  I shot and edited at 29.97.  For some reason I always compress at the same rate that I shot and edited.  It works for me that way.  Check to see what your frame rate of the file you are converting is and then type that frame rate here.

6.  The Frame Size will differ depending again, how you shot and edited.  My video was DVCam 4:3 so I will use the slightly smaller 640x480.  I could also use the 720x480 DV-NTSC without problems.  If you shot 16:9 you will want to make sure this aspect stays the same.  If you shot HD and want it to play back in HD then you would want this to be one of the 2 HD sizes...if you shot 720p, keep it at that.  The same for if you shot 1080.

7.  Again whether you check the deinterlace box depends if you edited in "i" or "p."  DVCam is "i" so I will want to deinterlace my video (essentially changing my video to be progressive, or "p").  For playback on a computer it will always look better in progressive mode as computers monitors (well almost all) are now progressive.  If you shot/edited 720p you will not need to deinterlace.  If you shot/edited 1080i, you will need to deinterlace.  If you shot/edited 1080p you will not need to deinterlace.

8.  Finally, select Make MP4.

Name it something you can understand and select Save.  Now look at the file.  Does it look good?  If it does not then you will need to mess with the settings.  If it looks strange first check the data rate, then the interlace/deinterlace option, then the frame rate and then the frame size.  Resubmit and evaluate again.  When it looks good, upload that to your favorite video service and be amazed at the quality!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A GREAT piece on Creativity from the Radiolab folks

The podcast is here. About mid way through they talk about the idea of being visited by genius (creativity) as opposed to "being" a genius. Ideas are all around!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The new FCP

So it was announced Tuesday night at NAB. Here is a summary by CNET. I am excited, in part because I think it will handle h.264/MPEG 4 without a problem, but also because I am now being forced to re-think cutting. It has been 11 years working with the same interface. I know it so well I think about constructing programs based on the architecture of the software. Though "re-learning" a tool can be frustrating I do think these kind of challenges help to spark new connections in our heads. There is a lot of static about whether or not this is "pro" and I'm not quite sure what that means. I think about editing and what we really are doing is cutting together stories. Pros tell good stories. I cut film with a razor with none of the fancy tools the most basic editing programs now include. (Well, I never got anywhere with my films so maybe this is a bad example). I will have to use the program and get over the initial hump of being lost until I figure out the UI. This will be my summer project. Everything is going to depend on if the program "works" or not. I remain hopeful and excited to see how well it does work.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Just open up your own studio

Now is the time to just make your own tv and become a mogul. Why intern when you can just be the studio? From the NYTimes

Sunday, January 30, 2011

MPEG Streamclip save as a preset

It is helpful once you figure out the right "recipe" for your video exports to save the settings so you don't have to re-do the settings each time you export a new video.  MPEG Stremclip provides an easy way to do this via presets.

In your exporter window select Presets and a new window will open.  In that window select New.

You will be asked if you want to create a new preset, here you just select Yes.

You will be provided an opportunity to name the preset, make it make sense (unlike my name I use!) and select OK.  From here you can then select Make MP4.

The next time you use MPEG Streamclip you just then select Presets and then select the preset you set then select Load then Make MP4.

Determining Pixel Size and Frame Rate

Before beginning to edit it is important to know what is going on with your file. The idea is to "mess" with it as little as possible. Though we will be converting our files, more than likely into ProRes 4:2:2, it is still a good idea to understand the basics of your camera/file before beginning to edit.  I have tried to simplify the basics in this, if you detect gross errors, please let me know in the comments.

1. What pixel size does your camera shoot?
Are you shooting 4:3 or a 16:9? If you are shooting DVcam, or other standard def (SD) cameras you will be shooting a pixel aspect ratio, or better a Storage Aspect Ratio of 720x480. BUT this is particularly confusing if you are shooting anamorphic. Because even though it is SD, it can be either 4:3 (actually it is 3:2, but we won’t get into those details now) OR 16:9. This is because of the very confusing definitions of Storage Aspect Ratios (SAR) and Display Aspect Ratios (DAR). The SAR and the DAR for standard def is 720x480 but with the anamorphic setting--the 16:9 setting the DAR can stretch out the pixels along the x-axis making it appear as if there are more pixels. That is why when you shoot something anamorphic and don’t have your settings set correctly in Final Cut, the image can appear squished. The camera actually shoots it squished to fit on the pick up chip but the pixels are electronically stretched to look correct in 16:9.

WHEW! That is just for SD. If you are shooting HD, there are a number of other dimensions you will need to track. All HD (for practical purposes) is 16:9. But, there are different ratios depending on the format and pick up chip set of your camera. The common ones are:

1280x720--usually referred to as “720p”

1440x1080--this is usually for HDV

1920x1080--usually referred to as EITHER “1080i” or “1080p”

Note here that the size is referred to by the number of horizontal pixel-rows (each row is counted, not the number of individual pixels in each row) along the y-axis, not the number of pixel-columns along the x-axis. Look at your camera manual and see which settings your camera uses

2. What is the frame rate of you file?
The most common frame rates for North America are:
23.97 fps
24 fps
29.97 fps
30 fps
60 fps

The next thing you need to know if it was recorded as an interlaced or a progressive signal.

Interlacing was used way back in the late 1930s as a way to cram extra information in the limited broadcast bandwidth. What they did was take a TV frame and split it in two, split along every other line of video and made two fields from every one frame. This worked in conjunction with the cathode-ray tube monitors that were in virtually every TV set in the world. This worked suitably until the advent of the VGA standard in the 1980s. Computers at that time were fast enough and their graphics cards were strong enough to handle each “line” of video in sequence. This is called progressive scan.

Most likely if it is DVCam it is recorded interlaced. In HD the frame rate can either be interlaced “i” or progressive “p.”

ARRRGH! If it isn’t confusing enough already! You need to decide as video artists, how your video will be primarily displayed. ALL broadcast programming will be broadcast interlaced. Even if you have the latest and greatest 1080p HD monitor, if you are watching off-air or via cable, it is interlaced. BUT if you are watching as a download or from BluRay it is progressive. Also if you want your work to be mainly viewed on the web, or projected from a computer (not DVD) you will want your work, as best as you can, to be shot and edited in progressive mode.