video encoding&cleaning

Video Editing '11  Codecpage News

Windows Movie Maker ?

What to use for a simple, quick project ? There is Windows Movie Maker, not so cool but it has a very intuitive user interface. Add a few scenes, then some transitions, some titles or subtitles, anything basic is there.
A bit awkward that transition length has to be set globally before insertion, and the file saving procedure is even more awkward, the real options come at the very last screen, and for any format you need a pre-defined template.
These templates you can do yourself if you have Windows Media Encoder installed - it comes with a tool for that. Can be downloaded from Mocrosoft for free.
With this, you can even edit (and save) HD formats with the MovieMaker of Windows XP. If you want some profiles for experimenting, you can download them here (use at your own risk). These profiles belong into MovieMaker's program folder under \Shared\Profiles. You can select a profile at the very last window of the save dialogue, so don't search for them in any menus!

Fringe (gray level steps) forming due to insufficient level resolution with Windows Media "lossless" encoding

Most important hint for successful encoding: never use CBR, always go for quaility based VBR.
For the occasional YouTube video, that's all fine. But there is a problem where you'd expect it last: You can only save videos in Windows Media format. Which wouldn't be too bad, as there is even a template option for "lossless" encoding that should theoretically be good for even for mastering. But if you try to re-use any footage no matter in which quality it was encoded, color shadings will turn into color steps or fringes (picture),and the effect will also worsen if you try to re-use the footage once more. In the picture this doesn't look so nasty but in a video these fringes are moving, producing a huge and disturbing visual effect. Obviously, the codec hasn't learned anything as this effect was the biggest drawback of the very first MPEG4 codecs already that came with ancient versions of Windows Media long ago.
Sorry, this may be good for a quick YouTube posting but not for any real editing job even of video amateurs.

So we have to look out for something more professional.


As it happens, Magix' line of editing softwares seems to have reached a remarkable score of usability as well as reliability with it's newest breed, Video Deluxe 17 HD plus (that's what I have tested so far. The UK/US version is named Movie Edit Pro 17 HD.
The German premium version has some more effects and a stabilizer, but what is not advertised, the Plus version also has a quite decent stabilizer (a bit hidden in the effects menu: Effects/VideoObjectEffects, or right click on the video clip in the timeline). There you'll also find the scene recogntion. The stabilizer can't really compete with Deshaker but may be good for basic jobs due to its simplicity (view some results here).
Other advantages are a full set of file formats, any kind of professional effects including good sound editing tools, and even an interface for VirtualDub filters, so in addition to all the effects you may use VirtualDub's powerful cleaning options as well.
The editing board can be switched between multi track timeline and scene based modes, an automatic scene recognition is included and even a per-scene editing popup, so the best features of good ol' StudioDV are available as well.
Only drawback: MPEG2, AVC, 5.1 surround all require an activation at first use, all separately, and you need a video containing the stuff to start the activation. This is a serious nuisance, as you can't just install and you're done, and the software doesn't even tell you what you're still missing to activate.
Nevertheless, it may be worth the hassle.

The large number of possible output formats also enables some special tricks, for example, MPEG1 with an MPEG2-like size and quality, good for playing it on even the oldest computer and for integrating it seamlessly into Powerpoint presentations. This and some other format settings (for web distribution) are explained in
this separate page on encoding with Magix and Riva.

Anything else you can get from the operation manual.

But a last hint may be useful: for seamless HD editing, especially if you don't have the most powerful CPU, MJPEG can be a perfect intermediate and mastering format even for large projects, at least with the good old PIC MJPEG codec, that can save and replay HD very quickly, compact and almost lossless (set Quality to approx.19, see the lossless encoding page for some tests). Magix also has a built-in MJPEG codec of its own, that seems to use a similar quality setting as PIC, but PIC is twice as fast. To save a video with PIC encoding, do not use "save as mpeg" but use "save as avi" and select PIC as the codec. PIC will always replay the videos if installed. For the videos compressed with Magix' own MJPEG encoder, select "swap decompress fields" in the PIC codec settings.
Unfortunately, the PIC mjpeg codec has become a bit expensive. If you aren't lucky enough to have an old registration, an SE or OEM version of Studio8 or Studio9 should contain it. Installing the software and then deleting its program folders will leave the codec in usable condition.
Otherwise, there is a special offer for home users. At the time this is written, the 32bit home version is just $29, which is reasonable. Use this one, also on 64bit systems.

The codec settings can be accessed either through system settings/sounds and audio/hardware/video-codecs/properties, or e.g. in VIrtualDub under video/compression. A good mastering setting for HD may look like this:

For interlaced material (e.g. PAL HD) you should use the "2 fields if more than" setting. enter a lines number of 240, for example. Unchecking "codec enabled" will cause Videodeluxe to use it's own mjpeg again. A color subsampling better than 4/2/2 is not required as this is also what MPEG uses.




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