Quantcast MPEG-4 for TV Viewing - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
11-20-2005, 12:22 PM
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GMaq GMaq is offline
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Hi,
I am contemplating getting the new iPod Video and among other things using it to bounce movies back and forth to instead of burning discs for those "watch once" movies. I'm pretty new to MPEG-4 and though I know chapter and verse what resolutions the iPod will handle, I was wondering if anybody is familiar with what MPEG-4 resolutions and bitrates look good on a regular CRT TV. From what I've read the iPod will support MPEG-4 at resolutions that don't exceed 230400 pixels in total. So if I get out my abacus and slide rule I should be able to get away with a 512x384 resolution for a 4:3 AR. Does anyone know what bitrate is reasonable for "SVCD-like" quality at this resolution?? I will be using the Nero Digital Codec. Most of the iPod info on dvdrhelp.com is understandably Mac-centric, and I've posted the same question there with no replies. I realize this question is probably outside the intended scope of this forum but this type of use for video is only going to get more commonplace. I have been experimenting but have not got the iPod yet, if any other XP users can even throw me an educated guess I'd be grateful. Thanks for your time. - GMaq
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  #2  
11-20-2005, 02:50 PM
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MPEG-4 by it's very nature is inferior to MPEG-2. Sure, lots of research and theory dictates MPEG-4 is progress, but that's just not how it is in practice. So, it'll never be as clean and high quality as MPEG-2. But it won't be bad by any means.

While MPEG-4 can be either progressive or interlaced, the interlaced stuff almost never works right. So just count on it being progressive. 23.976 with an IVTC (inverse telecine) and/or forced deinterlace (odd or blended, whatever... I'd do odd, personally).

The most common resolution for XVID/DIVX (MPEG-4) video is 512x384, your abacus is 100% correct. And your video in that format will be a 1:1 encoding (not a 4:3 encode, so make sure dimensions are pre-done as 4:3).

Do you have to use the Nero Digital Codec? Why not use XVID or DIVX instead? I don't know what the Ipod will and will not allow. On XVID, for example, it's not so much about bitrate as it is about the quantization values.




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  #3  
11-21-2005, 12:18 AM
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Hi,
Thanks for the quick reply and the great info, I was wondering about the interlacing as well so that answers that, being new to MPEG-4 I didn't know if using DivX/XVid was possible being as it is usually in an .avi container and the iPod specs .mp4 .m4v .mov etc. Either MPEG-4 or H.264 (IMO much ado about nothing!) Anyway I've been using Nero Digital because it will do Quicktime Compatible Simple profile video that Quicktime, iTunes and supposedly the iPod will like. I realize I won't be getting DVD quality but anything better than VCD will suffice for this purpose. I'll keep looking into it and thanks for at least giving me somewhere to start with the resolutions and I'll look into the other Codecs as well. GMaq
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11-21-2005, 08:16 AM
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Yeah, I forgot to mention 29.97fps NTSC and 25fps PAL progressive is also fine. Coming off tv or VHS, you may want to just slash it down to 23.976 with the IVTC. It's not a perfect method, there will be visual artifacts, but it'll suffice in a pinch. It won't be archive grade quality, but should be good enough for a little Ipod and some occasional tv viewing.

XVID and DIVX probably can survive in a Sorension (QT) wrapper, but I've never seen it. Not really. But MPEG-4 is a large open style of video, with many sub-formats to choose from. I'm just not fond of Nero's encoding abilities. I guess if you could access the codec in an encoder of your choice, it'd be okay. I'm not sure how that all works. While I do some XVID work from time to time, I'm mostly about VHS/broadcast to DVD MPEG-2.



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  #5  
12-01-2005, 06:56 AM
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PowerEncoder MPEG-4 AVC

why?
The MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) and MPEG-4 SP standards exceed the performance and results of previous video standards with a range of advanced compression technologies:

* intra-frame prediction based on 4x4 macroblocks
* motion compensation with I, B, and P frames
* transform coding
* in-loop deblocking filtering
* entropy coding
* interlace coding tools

These features ensure PowerEncoder MPEG-4 AVC can achieve extremely high-quality results using low bit rates while generating small file sizes with the approximate conversion rate at an incredibly miniscule 25% of the original DVD video file (MPEG-2 format). Below is a comparison between DVD quality (MPEG-2) and MPEG-4 AVC, but with MPEG-2 at a higher bitrate but at twice the file size!



Cyberlink MPEG ENCODER

just another option. also this version has an MPEG4 SP, function designed specifically for hardware limitations, PSP and IPOD.

MPEG-4 Simple Profile (SP) is designed primarily for devices with low processing power such as mobile and wireless devices and is ideally suited for video telephony, video-conferencing, or real-time desktop software encoding. MPEG-4 SP, also known as MPEG-4 Part 2, and MPEG-4 AAC, are key video formats adopted by Sony for its handheld entertainment device, the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP).
- strangepork
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12-04-2005, 03:59 PM
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I've since spoken to a new ipod video owner, and I've looked at some stuff over at itunes, and it appears that the standard is H.264 encoding on the stuff Apple releases for use with the device.

Another ipod video owner has made some guides. Although these are made for use on a Mac, with Mac software, the techniques and information that is not software-specific should come in handy (like resolution and formatting).

See these:
http://homepage.mac.com/major4/ipod_for_tv.html
http://homepage.mac.com/major4/ipod.html

MainConcept makes an H.264 encoder for Windows:
http://www.mainconcept.com/h264_encoder.shtml

Unfortunately, it's not cheap, at $450 or so. There are very likely some other free/cheap alternatives out there, but having not personally encoded H.264 to date, I'm not sure what to suggest.

VideoLAN has something called the x264 Encoder. Read more about it here:
http://developers.videolan.org/x264.html

And as always, good luck. If you find something that works well, be sure to come back here and let us know what you've done. Or if you have more question, I'll see what I can do for you.





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  #7  
12-05-2005, 05:09 AM
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Admin or LordSmurf (Whichever you prefer)
Thanks a lot for looking further into this, I know it's outside the norm for this forum, As you have noted there are a myriad of guides and freeware apps popping up all over the place and I've checked out some of them as well. The Videora ipod Converter (.91) is looking really promising as a frontend for ffmpeg for Windows users but it still has some Sync and .avi compatibility issues. My only issue with H.264 is the high computational overhead makes it unrealistic for my lowly Tualatin 1.3Ghz computer, my iPod is enroute from Apple so I will have hard data soon for those who may be interested. in the meantime something I've tried that has streamlined the whole process and given good quality via the TV out on my computer and plays back in Quicktime and iTunes is this. Using iuVCR I can realtime capture and deinterlace (Bundled Alparysoft De-interlace Filter) using the 3ivx MPEG-4 codec with 1 pass ABR @768kbps and a frame size of 512x384 with PCM Audio @ 44.1. Yes I realize that realtime capture in MPEG-4 is not recommended but I kid you not the quality rivals PICvideo v3 at the default settings. Then all you need to do is convert the Audio only and mux it into a compliant MPEG-4 container, This can be done pretty quickly with GraphEdit (Guides are available at the 3ivx.com web site) Alternately you can use Quicktime Pro and save in a .mov container without re-transcoding the video, The iPod is supposed to handle H.264, MP4, and .mov video files within the specified limits. So if anyone is still awake at this point I will share if any of this actually works on the iPod, 3ivx is actually the provider of the MP4 codec for Quicktime so compatability should not be an issue. The only downside to this method is the 3ivx encoder tends to overshoot in realtime capture so a movie that could have been 2-pass encoded down to 700 meg or so will end up being closer to 1 gig or so, I don't care because most movies will be watch and flush and won't need to be authored to any disc media anyway. Anyway I have several different MPEG-4 formats saved in iTunes and ready to try when the iPod arrives. I'll share my findings IMHO. Thanks again for this forum and your help. GMaq
P.S. Thanks also to strangepork for the recommendations, unfortunately my MPEG-4 education fund is already overdrawn!!! - GMaq
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  #8  
12-09-2005, 08:44 AM
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ive been busy comparing different MPEG4 software, for the PSP. In particular, cyberlink, datel media manager, Sony media manager. Ive converted some movies, shows (captured off tv), and cartoons to mpeg4 with all three programs.

the psp media manager has 2 settings low and high. High AVC outputs AVC 768 Kbps with Audio at 128 kbps. This is the same with Datel Max Media on the highest quality setting.

As far as the PSP is concerend with MPEG4 AVC, cyberlink is a dud. Cyberlink will spit out MPEG4 but not avc and the quality is subpar with a very small resolution, and very pixelated. The sony PSP media manager, is great for its RSS feed, such as abc's Lost Podcasts. I just entered the url, and it will go to update any new podcasts and download it to my psp. Kewl interface, but there is not much as far as right clicking and renaming. It needs an update button.

Now AVC, is only available of 2.0 firmware and up for your psp. I have very mixed reviews, more negative actually for the PSP media manager. It takes a lot of processing power. I was consistently at 88% with about 560 megs in usage. So be prepared when converting.

My test movies is the japanese version of KB, I used Shrink in uncompressed form to create a single vob. Here is where i think psp media manager sucks. You need to have the psp connected for it to convert & transfer to your psp. It took 3 hours to convert it to AVC high quality at 760 megs. The picture looked good, but the sound was off sync by 5 seconds. I was extremely pissed as well when the same thing happend in low avc mode. Picture wise it looked perfect and fit the screen. Cyberlink converted it fine using the special SP mpeg4 format. But it was grainy , choppy, and not AVC, just plain mpeg.

Datel Media manager is awesome. Free software if you buy the PSP usb wire. It costs only 14 bucks, for the wire but the software for conversion is really good.
First and foremost you do not need to connect your psp to convert your video. I converted KB, in about 2 hours at 55% cpu usage and 300 megs of ram used.

You are also given the option to use AVC or mpeg and widescreen or standard. Since KB is widescreen it choose it. I used the Highest quality AVC setting, and it was great. Coincidentaly the sony high avc and datel high avc ,matched in settings. Much to my surprise the sound was in sync with the movie, unlike Sony Media manager.
The interface itself was basic and easy to use, but offered way more features than Sony.

The final test between these two programs was a CARTOON episode that i got off dvd. Both programs worked great, but sony had a smaller file size of abot 8 megs. Not too much of a difference. There were no issues on sound with sony media manager.

As a sidenote, Video Vault produeces mpeg not AVC, but it has a trivial, yet good feature. You can use the actual program to rip dvds to your mem stick. Not too much of a biggie, because there are other free ways to accmoplish this. I like how it does a box art lookup. You can specify an image to be shown on your psp thumbnails for the movie. So instead of a boring black box and the file name on your psp, you get a little jpeg of the dvd cover or whatever you want. Trivial but neat. It still does not support AVC.

The winner is DATEL Media Manager for MPEG4 AVC conversion to psp. There really isnt any type of control when converting using this program, bit rate, audio, etc.
But it looks great on the psp,sound and all with very little pixels.

With all this said, there are no settings to configure. Just high quality and low quality. Dont expect to tweak anything, when transfering to your psp.


- strangepork
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  #9  
01-03-2006, 01:30 PM
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Hi,
Some quick notes for iPod video TV Out viewing. MPEG-4 looks better than AVC H.264 for TV out because AVC is constrained to a resolution of 320x240 which is too small to look good on TV's larger than 20" and MPEG-4 can be used up to 512x384 (4:3) or 624x352 (16:9) which looks good on larger CRT TV's. Bitrates from 800-1000 kbps afford the best file size:quality ratio, Bitrates in excess of 1500 kbps don't really appear to benefit picture quality. Nero Digital Pro which includes Nero ReCode and Nero Vision Express ($29.95 USD)gives decent results if 2 pass encoding is used, make sure you tick off "Simple Profile for Quicktime Compatibility" to make your movies "Simple Profile" otherwise the iPod won't play them. The 3ivx codec filter suite (www.3ivx.com $19.95 USD) also yields good results and includes an AAC Audio Encoder and .mp4 muxer to make compliant .mp4 files that play well on the iPod. Use VirtualDub like you would with DivX or XVid using the 3ivx codec and then mux it into an .mp4 container with "GraphEdit". Guides are available at www.3ivx.com, The 3ivx audio encoder is quite fast when used in GraphEdit. So far I've been running between 800-950 meg for a 2 hr. movie, With 60GB of space I usually have around 25 movies along with my entire music collection on the iPod at any given time and the quality is perfect for casual movie watching. - GMaq
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