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Creating compact high quality WMVHD video

UPDATE: TMPGEnc Xpress latest revisions have now AVCHD support: Revision History
Here’s a quick overview how to create compact but still high quality video for vimeo and/or Xbox 360. In this example I’ll be showing settings for both Sony Vegas Pro and tmpgenc Xpress with Canon HF100 AVCHD files. However the encoding settings are virtually same for most other programs.
General Quality Settings Notes:
For XBOX 360:
– I’m sticking typically either with VC1 VBR 6/9M (or as high as 8/12M if it fits on 4GB DVD) and VC1 CBR 12M for Xbox (12M limit for 1080i).
– Comparisons: 720p vs 1080i left crop (tmpgenc) and 720p vs 1080i right crop (tmpgenc). I found that 1080i has slightly better sharpness (with tmpgenc and HF100 video).
– I found that Vegas Pro does not support interlaced WMVHD output. The XBOX is able to play 1080p 12M CBR but I found at times could stutter slightly. I prefer therefore 1080i for XBOX 360
– Couple of comparisons of resulting video quality: Comparison at 720p (with Vegas Pro)
– I noticed that Vegas Pro doesn’t downscale to 720p as well as tmpgenc xpress (even at best setting). Therefore there’s some noticeable sharpness loss. See here comparison here: Resizing methods compared. UPDATE: I noticed that changing deinterlacing to interpolate in Vegas will improve sharpness slightly (but still some loss compared to tmpgenc). I decided to use Sony Vegas for larger and more complex editing projects, then output to Sony YUV lossless codec which I then can process with tmpgenc to final WMVD output.
Sample videos: Used Vegas to edit and render to Sony lossles YUV, then encoded using Tmpgenc Xpress to 720p (use download link on that page on the right lower side to get the original file: Talapus Lake and Deception Pass
Setup notes:
– Latest Tmpgenc xpress revision supports now AVCHD
– You can also install Windows Media Encoder 9 here: Windows Media Encoder 9 (not needed for Vegas). For Vista you may also install this patch (to prevent encoder360 and some other tools from crashing): KB 929182 patch. Note I tried using encoder360 with AVCHD files but it crashes reading file info (otherwise great free program to encode pretty much anything to WMV).  
Step 1: Project properties (not needed in tmpgenc xpress)

Choose 1280×720 and choose appropiate deinterlace method: none for 30p/24p and for 60i choose either blend for typically smoother video and interpolate to get sharper image for static content. I found interpolate to be clearly sharper for static images but note the Vegas downscale comment above which will cause you to loose some sharpness.
I’ve chosen here the slower 32-bit with gamma 2.222 because there’s a color space bug in both Vegas 8 and 9 when rendering Canon HF100 AVCHD files to WMVHD. For Vegas 9 choose 32-bit floating point (full range) and 2.222 (Video). This will ensure you get the correct color space for WMV (and blacks won’t become grayish). Otherwise you can leave it at 8bit which will render faster. UPDATE: I found that Vegas always encodes using progressive for WMV (no way to override). However this is fine for vimeo.
Note that Tmpgenc will automatically detect framerate and deinterlace if needed. However it may not detect 30p/24p automatically. Make sure that you set the source settings correct for each clip. If you use CoreAVC with deinterlace turned on with 60i, then leave source settings to progressive. Also if you want to output a 24p output project and remove 2:3 pulldown in TmpgencXpress: go to filter edit and choose for deinterlace settings for the 24p clip(s): 24fps (special animation);  inverse pulldown. You can use a group filter to apply to all clips (if all are the same).

Step 2: Render settings (in Vegas click ‘Render as’, then choose save as type ‘WMV’ and then click ‘custom’). Quality Settings:
Note the template name in Sony Vegas screenshot is a template I saved earlier (with these settings). I choose here for performance best but it will be about 20% slower in encoding. You could choose here the default good settings instead if you want to save some encoding time. The difference is very, very small.

Step 3: Video settings:

This is the most important screen. Choose WMV9 Advanced profile for video. The most compact video with good quality will be variable bit rate with peak. If you have a very short clip and you don’t care about file size then you could instead use CBR (which will render faster but if you have a variety of moving and static scenes then you will suffer some quality loss in the more complex scenes). Typically I would choose for 720p: 8-10M for CBR and for VBR between 4-8M for average bit rate (depending on desired resulting file size). For peak add about 50%. Tmpgenc will give a predicted output size, but otherwise you can expect a 10min clip at 4MB to be about 300MB. Vimeo recommends 1 second per keyframe (I assume since it’s easier to reposition but not sure if it matters since they re-encode anyway).

For 1080 I typically choose 12M CBR so I can get about 90min on a double-layer DVD. Note the XBOX360 can playback 12Mbps 1080i but I did experience problems playing it back from double-layer DVD’s when reaching 2nd layer. So instead I use external USB or streaming for >4GB files.

Step 4: Audio settings:

NOTE: these are Vimeo recommended settings. You could go here a bit higher if you have high quality sound. Remember that the original file can be downloaded from Vimeo (the encoded file by Vimeo will be lower quality). I’ve tried in the past also WMA 10 (professional) but ran into issues at times with vimeo decoding the file. However WMA10 pro will be needed if you want 5.1 channels/surround. For XBOX I typically match the source to get better quality and it does support WMA 10 surround.

To playback on XBOX 360 from a DVD burn the file to a DVD using UDF format (or you can also stream or use USB flash card).


One response

  1. johnny

    great!,.. will try this settings today!

    May 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

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