03-14-2010, 06:06 PM
mlaviolette mlaviolette is offline
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I normally burn DVDs from a relatively low-quality source (cable TV or VHS), so I understand why mine will never have the same quality as commercial ones. I have yet to try HD and BDs, but I suspect the same will be true. However a friend of mine asked me if it is possible to produce a homemade SD or HD DVD that is equal in quality to a commercial one when viewed on a big screen HDTV. He is rather disappointed in his results and I've offered to help, but first I'd like to set reasonable expectations and explain the differences.

I know that commercial DVDs are pressed, not burned, and that the source comes from very expensive cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars (or more, I guess). The captured data still has to be encoded (unless the cameras have a specialized hardware encoder) and the discs created.

Would you please explain the commercial process (from capture through pressing) and the factors (hardware and software) in that process that results in higher quality DVDs?
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03-14-2010, 07:02 PM
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By the time you add lenses, dolly cart, preview monitors, etc -- you can be into the 6-digit price range PER CAMERA. I've been in studios, and even I've seen a fully assembled RED setup in action. Very nice. And far above my pay grade.

Imagine being told this: "If you drop this, I'll have to take your car in exchange -- and you'll probably still owe me a few grand!"

Most quality work for video/photo is due to the LENS in use. They're not shooting with some built-in piece of crappy plastic or meaningless "name brand" glass (Carl Zeiss, etc). These are generally not zoom lenses either. They "zoom" by use of the dolly, and a skilled person maintains focus. In fact, many times a person is DEDICATED to the focusing only.

After it's shot and edited, archived and all --- way later down the line, it's time for DVDs.

Film is scanned, frame by frame, long before you get to DVDs. That was part of the editing and archiving process. Only old movies get re-scanned and cleaned up from scratch. For years now, the edited 2K/4K is used as the master for latter DVD and Blu-ray. Beyond that, many videos are now native to digital, no more film. (The RED cameras, for example.) Before that, it was often stored as a D1 or DigiBeta master for broadcast storage -- using tape decks that cost $40K or more. It's not uncommon for TV show broadcast masters to be re-purposed for DVD source.

For DVD creation, the video is analyzed and broken down scene by scene, and then encoded with a matrix or GOP that is optimum for that scene. They don't ram a whole movie down the throat of an encoder at all once. There are some scenes on DVDs that are I-frame only, others are minimally temporally compressed as IP configurations, etc. You do whatever it is that you need, for the scene at hand. Remember that you have a big 7.95 GB disc to work with (dual layer press), so size is not as big a deal as it was for many home users (pre DVD+R DL).

It can be encoded with hardware, such as gear from Matrox or Sonic, or with software from the likes of Custom Technology (CinemaCraft), Grass Valley (Canopus), or MainConcept. There's quite a few options, and it's changed over time -- Panasonic, Sony, Avid -- lots of options through the years.

After each piece is custom encoded, it's assembled and authored. Sometimes it's done together, sometimes not.

Cheaper products don't get this much care. But it's still more work than you'll get from shooting on a cheap consumer cam ($1,000 or less), and then cramming it into a an editor like Premiere and hitting "export".

Not that home products are bad -- I would fully disagree -- but the finesse and detail of the industry is just a lot of work, requiring lots of people with dedicated skills. I don't work that high up on the food chain either -- mostly by choice.

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03-14-2010, 07:07 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Here's an example of a really good homemade production, shot with a consumer HD cam, edited and exported from Sony Vegas. A DVD or Blu-ray made from it would look even better than the Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k4EeVhJGII

Don't let the name of the band or name of the song dissuade you from listening. Kind of a groovy 1980s-style piece. Came across this over the weekend, the band was asking for advice on another site.

Good example for home video.

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03-14-2010, 08:27 PM
mlaviolette mlaviolette is offline
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Excellent reply, as always. Many thanks to you both.

Would you consider putting your reply in the Video Basics section of the guides? It may help set the expectations for new members who may wonder why they cannot get Hollywood-like results from their consumer camcorders.
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