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Great Looking Web Video from Standard Def Footage

For those of us who are still stuck shooting in SD, here are some quick tips that I learned at a workshop with Richard Harrington of Rhed Pixel and Nicole Haddock of Pictures on the Waves last week.

  1. Sequence Settings

I had been editing and exporting with my FCP sequences set to NTSC DV. Eww, gross! Richard recommends editing in DV, as it will render faster while you’re working, then duplicating the sequence. On the duplicated sequence, you can change the compression to Apple ProRes by right-clicking the sequence and choosing Settings. Then, export that sequence for higher quality compression.

  1. Deinterlacing

Deinterlace before you encode. Don’t use the deinterlacer that is included in your encoding software. Nicole recommended a free application that has been working beautifully for me: JES Deinterlacer. You can download it here: http://www.xs4all.nl/~jeschot/home.html

If you are using mixed footage, use the deinterlacer on your interlaced footage before importing it into your editing software. If it’s all interlaced, you can just use the deinterlacer on the project afterwards.

  1. Converting

Whatever software you use to convert your video (Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, Episode, etc…), use Variable Bit-Rate (VBR) 2-pass compression, NOT Constant Bit-Rate (CBR). This will allow you to get better looking video, while still maintaining a smaller file size.

If you don’t need your audio to be in Stereo, use Mono instead. Less audio information will make your file smaller (or allow you to use higher quality settings for your video).

Remember that while video pixels are rectangular (taller than they are wide), computer screen pixels are square. If your video is Standard Definition 4:3 (720×480), your output for web needs to be 640×480). For widescreen SD footage, it should be 860×480.

If you are trying to use a less standard size for your video, make the number of pixels in the width a multiple of 16. For some reason that I think has something to do with binary code, computers can process this better.

Hopefully, this will help those dealing with Standard Definition footage. If you want more great tips on editing, check out Richard Harrington’s blog.

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