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DVD quality on the web

Posted by PhillyFilmmaker 
DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 08:38AM
I got a request to put a company video on our company website.
We only have windows media player here for people to view videos.

What is the highest quality video I can convert to get as close to dvd quality as possible?

note: I tried wmv and mpg but the requester wanted to know why it wasn't dvd quality??
Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 08:47AM
LOL Thanks! I wasn't sure where to post this...
Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 08:48AM
I don't know anything about WMV, so I can't speak to that specifically.

But I have been reading some chatter online lately about Web video. Apparently a new specification was just announced (that's already supported by most browsers, from what I've heard) That lessens the need to deal in non-standard formats. I say "lessens" because apparently there's still at least one browser out there that doesn't support H.264 for some mind-boggling reason. Point here is, the situation is no longer as complex as it used to be, and Windows Media definitely isn't a part of the picture any more.

As you surely know if you've watched a wide variety of DVDs, "DVD quality" is a myth. When people say "DVD quality," what they usually mean is "really good, with no compression artifacts that are obvious to the average viewer." You're going to get that with H.264 and a good encoder, as long as you use a sufficient bit rate. The H.264 encoder Compressor uses ? which is the built-in Quicktime H.264 encoder ? is really quite good, though some prefer Episode Pro or other tools. You can get excellent-looking standard-def stuff with H.264 at a megabit and a half. That's the approximate data rate Apple uses for SD shows on the iTunes store, and I don't think I've ever seen one that wasn't top-shelf quality.

An important note if you're dealing with widescreen material: SD widescreen is an anamorphic format. There is no square-pixel widescreen SD format. I've seen lots of people put widescreen SD material on the Web (podcasts and such) by stretching it out and then encoding it at 853x480 pixels. This wastes data. If you're dealing with widescreen SD material, you'll get much more efficient encoding by scaling it to 640x480 (square-pixel) first, then encoding it, then setting the file to play back at 853x480. The computer does the anamorphic compensation for you, so you can encode and send fewer pixels. At the same bit rate, you get a higher-quality encode, or the same approximate quality at a lower bit rate.

Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 09:40AM
how about AVI?

my only option is to convert it to something that Windows Media Player can play with high quality.
and also if possible it needs to look good in full screen.
(Yes, this is what the client is asking for.)
Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 09:45AM
Sorry, I personally can't help you there. I know literally nothing about those old formats.

Please take this advice with a wheelbarrow of salt, but ? maybe this is what they call a teachable moment. Your client is asking you to take an obsolete format and make it do something it's not meant to do. That's like asking you to put all the groceries in one bag but not let the bag get too heavy. Maybe ? with a degree of emphasis on maybe that mere text cannot adequately convey ? this is one of those times when you can help your client get what they really want by helping them understand the limits of the technology.

Or maybe I'm just an idiot when it comes to Windows Media ? seriously, until you posted this I didn't even realize it was still around; I thought that format was as dead as Cinepak or Sorenson 3 ? and somebody else will post some advice on how to accomplish your goal.

Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 10:14AM
LOL I hear ya.

I'm trying to figure out a way to explain to this client that the only way he'll get "dvd quality" is to put the dvd in the dvd player because of the limitations of the media format these people can only use right now.
Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 10:21AM
Right, it's the "can only use" part that's tripping me up. Maybe ten years ago, when your only choices for Web video were Quicktime-on-the-Mac-only and Windows-Media-on-Windows-only, it might have made strategic sense to say "we're picking this one and ignoring the other one."

But the situation has changed. For the past few years, Flash VP6 was the least-common-denominator Web video format. Depending on what your priorities are, it still is, though that's going to change over the next few months. (Where Youtube leads, the rest of the Internet follows, and Youtube is in the midst of transitioning completely to H.264 for SD and HD both.)

Maybe the situation with your client is that they made their choice last century and haven't had a reason to change over yet. That's what I meant before; maybe ? did I sufficiently emphasize "maybe?" ? this is the time when they need to be educated about what it takes to deliver broadcast-quality video online. Right now, your client is at least one generation behind, and arguably two; within six months, they're going to be solidly two generations behind. Every minute you and they invest in a dead format is a minute wasted, and there's a cost associated with wasted time. Maybe ? maybe ? your client just needs to be informed.

Or maybe not. I'm not handing out free business advice here; I'm just a guy on the Internet.

Re: DVD quality on the web
July 07, 2009 10:31AM
Hmmmm so, is Windows Media Player really out of touch now? (in your opinion.)
Re: DVD quality on the web
July 10, 2009 02:05PM
If you want good quality for a Windows Pc, try the
freeware converter S.U.P.E.R..

As long as you have Windows XP or better it will read
QTs such as H264 or ProRes and convert to avi, or wmv
and YOU set the parmeters you want such as size, data rate

The learning curve is decent, and as I spend 90% of my time in
Windows I can vouch for this freeware

PhillyFilmmaker Wrote:
> how about AVI?
> my only option is to convert it to something that
> Windows Media Player can play with high quality.
> and also if possible it needs to look good in full
> screen.
> (Yes, this is what the client is asking for.)
Sorry, you do not have permission to post/reply in this forum.


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