video encoding&cleaning

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VideoCD creation

Fast and easy process for VCD format:

If you want a good VCD but you have limited time, capture right to half format. No deinterlacing and filtering. You could use PIC MJPEG at maximum quality (it's bad at half format, really), or better use the huffyuv codec for the same compression. It's lossless, so it's not only better, it also allows easy cutting and insertion of image processing step before final compression, for example w. the Unsharp Mask filter in VirtualDub (set to radius 3, will make nice crisp pictures).

Both codecs will record about 200 MB/minute (yes, you could do DV or PIC MJPEG at very good full frame quality with that much, but then you need to resize and that's only worthwhile if you spend a lot of effort in deinterlacing, filtering etc.).

Then encode w. Tsunami using the VCD template that is supplied with it. Encoding time is about 4x playing time on a 600 MHz Celeron. Earlier Tsunami versions had some compatibility issues but that's been solved with beta12.

The quality you get this way will be quite good, no doubt.

To burn a real VCD, you have to start a VCD template with a CD burning program like Nero in order to build the proper file structure, and drop the .mpg file into it. Then you can burn the VCD.

If you look at it afterwards, you see a .dat file on CD that you can play with Media Player like the .mpg.
To test for compatibility, you have to feed the VCD to a stand alone player.

Probably the .dat will not play as smooth from a computer CD drive than if you had burned the original .mpg onto the CD.
That's normal.

It's also normal that your VCD suddenly can hold about 720 MB of video instead of 650 MB. That's no magic but due to the fact that VCDs don't carry the extensive error correction overhead of data CDs.


Best Process

for really outstanding results,

You may also speed up the process by omitting VirtualDub and use Tsunami's internal filters:
Select Advanced Settings
Be sure to tell Tsunami if your source is interlaced.
Movies are not, but videos are.
The settings that work best for videos here are Interlaced, Field order B, Deinterlace (double click on checkbox) Even Field, Adaptive.
You can check the effect of all filters in their preview windows.
There are some powerful enhancement filters, too.
For noisy sources, try Denoiser, temporal only, 100%.
For blurry sources, or just to compensate for the inherent blurriness of the VCD format, use the edge enhancer.

To check your final results frame by frame, you can open 2 instances of VirtualDub. You may also right click on the display window and choose 2x for better viewing.

To test your interlacing settings, you may use the 'interlaced' MPEG4 test video from this site (MPEG4 page).
This is no high quality source but it works. Recoding this to VCD with Tsunami is no problem


Some thoughts about the VCD format

What is the Video CD format good for ?
In order to put as much on a CD as possible ? Then, MPEG4 would be better.
In order to be compatible ? Well, VCD has never been very popular but it had a sudden revival when people started to buy desktop DVD players, because
normally they can play VCDs. This is a short lived fashion however, real desktop DVD recorders are already on sale in Japan and DVD recordable media will drop to CDR prices in the foreseeable future. A stronger argument is that all versions of Media Player can play MPEG1 already, so there's no necessity to download a codec or to install Media Tools, and the CPU load is very low.
To play it on small CPUs ? That is a reason, but only for current distribution rather than archiving, because sub PII machines will be in the museum within 1-2 years.
VCD offers the best solution for one format
only, that is 60 min half frame on one CD. Just because it's ample quality and a widespread standard.

So if you want to distribute video and reach as many people as possible, VCD is the format of choice.

For your personal archive, it's not such a good idea. For this (if you want VHS quality or better), I would always recommend DV tape (also make Backups!) and maybe in the near future, DVD recordables.
To send a video to a friend who has a computer, MPEG4 half format may be the format of choice because
you record it in real time and you're ready.
To make a CD of your holiday video, MPEG2 at 1/3 DVD bit rate would be the very best. It fits only 30 min on a CD but for this purpose, this is quite enough. Full format MPEG4 is difficult to play, especially at the high bit rates necessary for unsteady amateur videos.
MPEG4 shines when you want to burn movies to CD, because those are mostly widescreen. So they take less bandwith, play easier, and 1 or even 2 hrs on one CD are feasible at full or almost full frame size. I sometimes use this for TV recordings because the quality beats VHS hands down, and cutting out the commercials is easy. It's however time consuming to encode .


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