Workshop – Helpful Advice (part 3)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 Filed in: Video
Need to get your video
delivered to your audience? Then
there’s probably going to be some
compression involved. Don’t let
hardware or software get in your way.
Let’s take a common sense approach to
getting your video out there.
Pick Your PowerThere are tons of compression
tools out there, but the pro apps offer important
features like batch processing, multiple
architecture support, and customizable presets.
The five most popular options are:
Compressor (www.apple.com) Bundled free with Final
Cut Pro or DVD Studio Pro. However it
can’t output some Window’s
oriented formats and it is occasionally cranky
(requiring restarts, trashing preferences, and
even re-installs to get back on track).
ProCoder (www.canopus.com) a versatile PC-only
solution for encoding video in a variety of
formats. It offers both a guided and an expert
mode to setting up your jobs.
Cleaner and Cleaner XL (www.discreet.com)
The granddaddy of encoding utilities. It’s
suffered from changing ownership several times
and hasn’t seen much development lately.
Episode and Episode Pro (www.flip4mac.com)
This product offers hooks into Apple Compressor
and offers a variaety of additional formats that
Mac users need.
An easy to use compression utility that also
unlocks some specialty formats like Flash Video.
Version 4.1 (a free upgrade) build in support for
Windows Media files on the Mac Platform by using
Flip4Mac (not a free upgrade - $99/$179).
VideosquishLooking for a smaller download?
The biggest changes you can make are window size
and frame rate. These savings are before
you’ve even gotten around to applying the
compression algorithms. Pro’s will often
compress the video to half size, but then flag
the players to automatically show the video at
200% magnification. Large window, but tiny files.
Screen 75% reduction in file size
Quarter Screen 94% reduction in file size
Your video file is likely recorded at
approximately 30 fps. This is needed for a
television display, but not important for most
Internet or CD-ROM video.
– 30 fps material
50% reduction in file size
10 fps 66% reduction in file size
These file savings can be combined, which can
result in huge savings of download time or disk
Hip to be SquareThere’s a good chance you
are working with non-square pixels in your
digital video clip. Computer pixels are square in
shape, and you’ll need to compensate. Here
are some of the most common sizes.
4X3 Aspect Ratio 16X9 Aspect Ratio
640 X 480 640 X 360
480 X 360 480 X 270
320 X 240 320 X 180
240 X 180 240 X 135
160 X120 160 X 90
Stereo, or No?Most professional videos have
two (or more) channels of audio. This can cause
unnecessarily large file sizes and playback
problems for viewers who listen on mono speakers.
While you’re attracted to Stereo, give Mono
some serious thought.
- Stereo Dialog
could result in many users not being able to
hear the audio through their built-in speaker.
Always pan dialog tracks to center before
making your self-contained or reference clip to
• Stereo data is twice the size of mono
data. Get the size down.
• Unless you’ve got some dramatic
environmental effects or music going on, Stereo
is just overkill for the personal computer
• If you really want stereo, look at your
format of choice to see if it supports Joint
Stereo. This will only save separate data for
each speaker when there is a difference between
the left and right channels. This can save a
lot of space.
Flicker FixIf you shot your video using a
traditional standard def camera, you likely have
interlaced video. On a Television this produces
smoother motion, on a computer it produces junk.
You’ve got two approaches to take
- If the video
is being acquired solely for web or theatrical
you can shoot Progressive (such as 24P, 25P, or
30P). If your client likes the look, they may
want to shoot 24P anyways.
2 Apply a de-interlace filter to your clip to
all video shot with interlacing. If you are
going to be producing several compressed
formats, you may want to pre-process the source
sequence by adding a de-interlace filter in
your NLE. If you have the option, you may need
to specify which field to use. For digital
formats, both NTSC and PAL, you should choose
lower field first.
Get the Wash-OutOne common client complaint is
that the video often looks washed out on their
computers. This is because video and computers
operate in different color spaces (YUV vs. RGB).
Video signals operate between an RGB value of 16
thru 235. Computers use an RGB value of 0 thru
255. You will need to restore the black and white
point of your image. Look for an option called
Black Restore and White Restore. To fine tune
this effect, you will need to experiment with the
amount and smoothness settings. Be sure to invoke
your preview window to see the results before
encoding with the settings.
The Wal-Mart EffectVideophiles will tell you that
consumer televisions ship with the reds boosted
to ridiculous levels. Therefore a video file
displayed on a computer will also need the
saturation turned up a bit to meet your
client’s expectations. This is to
compensate for what I call the Wal-Mart effect.
Consumer TVs have their reds over-cranked to make
skin tones appear richer on their cheap tubes.
Ignore your calibrated monitor and give it a
5-15% boost for that healthy skin glow. Consumers
expect these rich skin tones, go with the flow
and give them want they want.
Client-ReadyLooking to save some time? Be
sure to check if your compression program has
these power features. These are some great ways
to get a little more done with less work.
– Save your compression setups
as “mini-apps” on your desktop.
Drag a source file onto the preset and it will
load the proper settings for you.
Audio – If your show is properly
mixed, you can skip this option. However, many
of our compression jobs use sources we
didn’t edit. This safety option will
bring your audio levels to a more consistent
• Fade In/Out
– Instead of tying up an edit
suite, you can do simple edits in your
compression program. Mark your In and Out
point, and let your compression tool perform an
audio and video fade. Since many web pages use
white backgrounds these days… confirm
what color you should fade to.