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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been burning all my home movies using my Pan HS2 and E80. In general I'm pretty happy with the quality of a 2hr SP. XP is outstanding!


I'm thinking of venturing into trying out in imovie. From what I know already, a 2hr compression isn't good. The editing tools, menus are great but I really care more about ease and quality of the movie more than anything else.



Do I have any reason to expect a possibility of better quality?


Educate me. Thanks.
 

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If you are considering iMovie to "spice up" your menus etc..(vs. the sterile appeal of the on deck spreadsheet style menus), then you might want to consider an authoring package that can accept vr mode files directly from disc. That way you can encode content on the DVD recorder and generate great looking menus and custom chapter stops (with limited trimming and editing capability for good measure) on the computer. If you are limited to the Mac, then I am not familiar with compatible software. For the PC I would recommend TMPGenc/Tsunami DVD Author.


If you are merely looking to improve PQ, then I don't think its really worth the trip to go with desktop encoding, the time investment for software desktop encoding is not really commensurate with any significant improvement in PQ vs. the state of the art real-time hardware encoders on today's DVD recorders IMHO.
 

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Boy, are you looking to open a can of worms for yourself. If you mostly do basic editing, such as editing out commerials, etc, then your Panny is the way to go.


If you want to do slightly more complex editing, then use the Panny for obtaining the material and use programs such as Womble, TMPGE DVD Author, or DVD Factory... (I'm sure others will post their favorites when they read this thread). Recording on a RAM disc is an easy solution for bringing the footage into the PC.


Now if you want to do some real complex editing, then you will want to work with an AVI file, which gives you the most accurate results. Programs such as Adobe Premiere or Pinnacle's Liquid Edition will give you the tools needed for creating some really fancy stuff. The finished AVI file is then converted to MPEGII for authoring the DVD.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustinlc
I've been burning all my home movies using my Pan HS2 and E80. In general I'm pretty happy with the quality of a 2hr SP. XP is outstanding!


I'm thinking of venturing into trying out in imovie. From what I know already, a 2hr compression isn't good. The editing tools, menus are great but I really care more about ease and quality of the movie more than anything else.



Do I have any reason to expect a possibility of better quality?


Educate me. Thanks.
The impact on technical video quality (not content quality) varies with the type of source and the method of copying and encoding. The opportunity for improved content quality varies with your tasteful use of the features of iMovie.


If your source is mini-DV, and if you are transferring from your mini-DV camcorder via FireWire to your DVD recorder, then the method I describe below should give the same technical video quality.


If your source is VHS, using the method below bypasses the advantage of the time-base correction feature of your DVD recorder. If your tapes need TBC help, you would likely get poorer video quality than with your present method. If your tapes are "stable" and benefit little or none from the TBC, then you might get equivalent quality (but this is mostly a guess--I have not compared direct VHS to DVD recorder quality with VHS to mini-DV to DVD recorder quality).


My Method using iMovie on my Mac:


Mini-DV home movies are played back on the camcorder and loaded directly, in real time, via FireWire to iMovie on my Mac. The data is simply copied to the Mac, with no change or encoding, resulting in first generation DV iMovie clips on the Mac.


Some VHS home movies are played on my VCR, using S-video and stereo audio outputs, to my mini-DV camcorder for DV encoding and uploading via FireWire to the Mac. I only use this method if the VHS movies are "stable" and do not need time-base correction. Otherwise, I go directly from the VCR to the DVD recorder to take advantage of time-base correction, and then edit on the DVD recorder.


Some mini-DV camcorders allow live, pass-through encoding from an analog source with direct DV output via FireWire, resulting in a single real-time pass. If not, the VHS movie would have to be recorded/encoded onto mini-DV tape in the camcorder, and later uploaded via FireWire to the Mac, resulting in 2 real-time passes to encode/copy.


After iMovie editing is complete, I simply playback the movie in iMovie on the Mac and encode it on my Pioneer 520 DVD recorder via FireWire in real time.


All this is accomplished on an old, slow 700 Mhz eMac G4 with no DVD reader or burner drive. This method is a necessity for me until I can replace the eMac. This method also avoids the long, slow encoding time using the software and CPU in the Mac.


As always, YMMV. Perhaps others have more experience in this area, since I have just started using this process.
 

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Since we're talking about Mac's, I'm beta testing Roxio's Toast 7 and have had some fun using it along with my Pioneer DVR-510H-S. Toast 7 can read unfinalized VR mode discs from the Pioneer and author a new DVD with a choice of some nicely designed menu backgrounds along with the option to set the menu to appear automatically. It also can encode and burn DivX from the Pioneer's MPEGs. I'm told it should be available by the end of the month.
 

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Quote:
unfinalized VR mode discs
I didn't know VR mode discs need to be finalized. But then again, the only vr mode discs I deal with are DVD-RAM's.
 

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You are correct that VR-mode discs don't need to be finalized. But Pioneer provides that option so I wanted to be clear that nothing needs to be done to the VR-mode discs for Toast 7 to be able to read them. Incidentally, Toast 7 reads the original files on the disc, not a playlist created from those files. So you can't edit the video on the DVD before transferring it to Toast.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HealeyGuy
Since we're talking about Mac's, I'm beta testing Roxio's Toast 7 and have had some fun using it along with my Pioneer DVR-510H-S. Toast 7 can read unfinalized VR mode discs from the Pioneer and author a new DVD with a choice of some nicely designed menu backgrounds along with the option to set the menu to appear automatically. It also can encode and burn DivX from the Pioneer's MPEGs. I'm told it should be available by the end of the month.
Wow-- does the drive one is using in the computer matter much? For example, will it work with external DVD drives on a Mac?


Perhaps it can work with the Panny files if Dustinlc gets a -RAM compatible external drive?


Also, how do the disc menu editing capabilities compare with iDVD?
 

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The computer's drive does matter. My G4 iBook's combo drive can't seem to read the VR mode discs even with Toast 7 while my external Lacie/NEC DVD burner has no trouble at all. Toast 7 has what Roxio calls a Media Browser. Set the browser to DVD, insert the VR-mode disc and it appears in the browser. When you drag any title from the disc to the Toast Video window the mpeg is copied to the hard drive. I presume this will work with DVD-RAM when the drive supports that format.


Toast 7 has 10 menu themes (or you can choose no menu). It also has an option for "scene menus" which I believe are submenus based on chapter marks. I haven't played with the scene menus yet. Unlike iDVD there is no motion to the menus, but they are nicely designed with clever typography and graphics. When this is released I'll put together a page showing the menu styles if Roxio doesn't do that with their promo information.
 

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It's a pity that there's no motion in the menus. Being a former film student, I have lost the all-too-common impulse to over-chintz the actual video editing. Menus are fair game, though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great discussion. I'm learning so keep going.


I have a G5 Mac and iMovie HD (HD don't mean anything here) and it would be iDVD to burn it.
 

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Dustinic, the problems with iDVD are that it doesn't accept MPEG video and it doesn't encode AC-3 audio. Its big advantage is it makes awesome menus and is easy to use. iMovie HD also doesn't accept MPEG 2 video. These applications are best suited for people with digital camcorders. To use them with a DVD recorder requires the extra step of exporting the recorder's MPEG video to a .mov or .dv format. The advantage is you can then use iMovie's transitions, titling and other custom editing features.


I don't use iDVD because I want AC-3 audio which allows for a greater bit rate (and quality) for the video. I can play my iMovie via Firewire into my Pioneer DVD recorder which solves the AC-3 audio problem and provides real-time encoding, but gets me the merely serviceable menus. With Toast 7 I can have nicer menus plus AC-3 encoding. I can either let Toast encode the MPEGs from iMovie or I can import and use the MPEGs I've encoded on the Pioneer.


Another option that I have is CaptyDVD 2. This application accepts MPEG video plus it offers tremendous customization of title and chapter menus includiing offering motion menus. Its drawback is that it is rather difficult to learn and use. This, I think, is what doxtorRay should consider getting. It is available bundled with a couple of LaCie products and I've been told by a LaCie sales person that CaptyDVD 2 LE can be purchased for $75 by calling LaCie. A review of CaptyDVD 2 is at www.bobhudson.com .


By the way, I neglected to mention that Toast 7 requires QuickTime 7.x which in turn requires OS 10.3.9 or 10.4.x.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK, I get what you guys are saying and it seems that besides making DVDs from camcorder via digital connection, it's very troublesome if one only cares about quality.


In regard to just using Mini digital camcorder:

Quote:
Mini-DV home movies are played back on the camcorder and loaded directly, in real time, via FireWire to iMovie on my Mac. The data is simply copied to the Mac, with no change or encoding, resulting in first generation DV iMovie clips on the Mac.
But the problem is when it's compressed using iDVD, right? I've heard that 1hr is good and 2hrs is sort of just OK. I don't know what that means in terms of my panasonic recorders quality. When I connect to my HS2, it's via DV so no data loss, but there's no high speed dubbing so I've been doing the S-video in with my E80 which has high speed dubbing.

Quote:
I don't use iDVD because I want AC-3 audio which allows for a greater bit rate (and quality) for the video.
OK, if we are just talking about importing movies from digital camcorder, my way of bringing into the recorder isn't AC-3 either, is it?


Forgive me if I miss something. These encoding stuff are technical for me.

Thanks.
 

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Starting with your camcorder here are some approaches:

1. Import the video from the camcorder to iMovie and do your editing there.

2a. Play your edited movie from iMovie via Firewire to your HS 2 to take advantage of its real-time encoding and AC-3 audio, or...

2b. Use iDVD to author, encode and burn your DVD (I suggest keeping the video to less than 90 minutes per DVD), or...

2c. Use Toast 7 to author, encode and burn your DVD with AC-3 audio (in which case 120 minutes still looks very good).


Option 2a is the fastest.

Option 2b is the slowest but gives you the motion menus.

Option 2c has advantages over 2b except for its lack of motion menus.


Each will produce very good quality.


I have a G4 Mac. If I had a G5 like yours then I'd probably choose to do my MPEG encoding from iMovie videos with Mac software rather than export to my Pioneer recorder. But my Mac takes much longer to encode video than does yours, so I greatly appreciate the time-savings of option 2a. When nice title and chapter menus are important I can choose options 2b or 2c, or I can use the MPEGs from 2a in Toast to author a new DVD.
 

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I have old VHS home movies that I like to convert to DVD. I have two options:

a. Use VHS player and video recorder

b. Connect VHS player to my digital Sony camcorder to my iMac.

In the first, the DVD recorder does analog to digital conversion. In the second Sony camcorder does the analog to digital conversion.

Which should give better video quality? Anyone has any experience?

Please disregard editing, easy of use, audio coding, compression etc issues. I want to focus on the analog to digital conversion process because this is a major factor in the quality of video produced at the end.


thanks
 

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I'll cop out and say you'll have to see for yourself. I've read posts about earlier Pioneer recorders having trouble copying some VHS tapes. One solution that is suggested is connecting the camcorder between the VHS and the DVD recorder. This means the camcorder does the analog-to-digital conversion but you are still recording the program in real-time without involving a computer.


Some camcorders, however, don't do direct pass through. Instead they require the video to be recorded to DV tape and then played back to the recorder.


In any case, I see no purpose in transferring video to the computer if you aren't going to be using the computer for editing.


If what you want to know is what encoder gives you the best quality, the answer is a multi-pass software encoder. But those aren't cheap. Toast and iDVD have single-pass encoders, as does the hardware encoder in a DVD recorder.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dollarbill
Pio 531+ does 2 pass encoding
Another safe generalization up in smoke. So how does it do that in real time? I hadn't noticed this mentioned in any of the reading I've done about the new Pioneer's.
 

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I "think" $bill is referring to XP+ mode. Record to HDD in XP+ (First Pass) then record to DVD in XP, SP etc... (Second Pass)
 
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