My latest tutorial covering the best ways to scale HD footage to SD resolution, using only Premiere Pro CS4 and the Adobe Media Encoder CS4, is now online.
EDIT 09 Feb 2010: The link to the tutorial has been updated.
Jeff, you indicated a "Dan Isaacs" ver is coming soon. In the interum, could you give a summary of your testing and comparrison of the "adobe method" vs Dan's method?
I personally see a lot of edge shimmering when using the max render quality adobe option. I find the adobe max render option produces acceptable but not great quality for progressive footage, and not acceptavble quality for interlaced source. Thats my unscientific testing. BTW; I believe Dan's workflow provide great quality.
Probably the edge shimmering you're seeing has more to do with the MPEG encoding than with Premiere's scaling/deinterlacing using MRQ. I've examined frame grabs of the downscaled footage when Lagarith is used, and the difference between an SD Lags frame and an SD MPEG2 DVD frame is enormous. (In fact, the Lags frame grab from Pr/MRQ for a downscaled progressive source is very close to the quality that hd2sd produces.) There are more tweaks to the MPEG2 DVD encoder settings that can be made to increase the quality, but I'm not that patient. If I'm using CS4 and not hd2sd, I export a Lags file from Pr and encode in Squeeze 5. I know Dan and Jim Simon both prefer the free HC Encoder.
I didn't go into great depth on optimizing the CS4 MPEG2 DVD settings in the tutorial because it wasn't a tutorial on the fine art of MPEG2 encoding. Plus, it was already 20 minutes long.
Regardless, I think the huge speed advantage that hd2sd has over MRQ makes hd2sd the preferred solution for most folks. But for users that don't want to mess with finding, installing, tweaking and generally hassling with the free open-source tools that are required for hd2sd, MRQ can get close enough for most purposes.
Though written for CS4, there are enough similarities between the two programs that I think some users can "read between the lines," and utilize the theory, at least. Same for the upcoming Dan Isaacs' version.
This has become a very common topic, and I want to get as much infor out there, as is possible.
Last, even if the vast majority of the PrE users cannot find use for this, that sub-forum is like a FAQ, though for longer articles. This post will sink to page X in a few days. On the PrE Tips & Tricks sub-forum, it will be there, until Adobe changes the fora again.
I do a lot of articles for that sub-forum, even if they apply more directly to PrPro, because it's a useful repository for info. I link to that sub-forum from the PrPro forum all the time. When I do an article for there, I try to cover the PrE and PrPro bases, so there is less interpolation for the reader.
I also have to admit that I "cheat" a bit, with that sub-forum. Steve Grisetti, the MOD, lets me get away with it, so long as I do not abuse it. Even for articles that are much more PrPro oriented (and even some Encore articles), I will add them there, so they are easily accessible to more folk, and they do not decay, and get lost on later pages of a regular forum.
If you have a beer with Steve G. at the MOD's picnic, don't tell him of my "cheating," please.
I have a question. I read an earlier post about HD to SD and you mentioned nesting a HD seq inside of a SD seq and then export that.
Is that still your recommended approach?
As of the 4.1 update, some under-the-hood stuff has been changed so that nesting isn't needed for the workflows covered in the tutorial. That cuts down on the render time significantly.
I was wondering with the recent 4.2 update if that changes anything with your tutorial? I thought that the update was supposed to address scaling and deinterlacing, so I was wondering if the 2 step process for 720p60 footage would become one step???
Yes, it did. Just export the HD 720p60 sequence to SD DVD resolution
like is done for the other HD formats. The AME now handles all of the
scaling and interlacing of consecutive frames automatically if the
export settings are correct.
I'm not going to change my tutorial because the 2-step method still
works, and that particular technique can be useful if there is ever a
need to absolutely force Pr to render effects in a particular order.
So do you still right click on the timeline and tell it to interlace consecutive frames or is all of that handled through AME and the setting that you use there?
EDIT - Do you also uncheck "Frame Blend" still?
Thanks again for the help Jeff....
I know this is an old thread but I just recently watched your tutorials on HD to SD conversion in Premiere. I have a quick question (or two).
I'm working with CS5 now. Does everything in the tutorial still apply?
I've been working for years in the DV SD world, but my new workflow has my source edited material in 720p format and need to end up on DVD format. Will using the Adobe Dynamic Link feature to send it off to Encore using "Automatic" settings with MRQ on, produce acceptable downscaling and interlacing results?
I played around with your method of exporting to an MPEG2-DVD file via the AME and that all makes sense but the downside of that is the requirment to manually set the bitrate settings. I'm usually working with videos around 2+ hours, so it's hard to pick bitrate settings that make the resulting MPG2 filesize match the DVD size without some trial and error. And with transcode times reaching 30 hours or so, that becomes painful. That's what I like about the "automatic" transcode settings. I guess I just want to know if I'm missing something in the manual AME method that could help with bitrate settings or if there are any tweaks to the "autmatic" method that would help. Thanks.
The only significant change is an important one. Pr CS5 now handles 720p60 footage just the way you'd want. No intermediate file required, no interlace consecutive frames required. Just export the 7j20p60 sequence straight to MPEG2 DVD 16:9 Progressive, using MRQ. You can use the same bit rate settings as for the other formats in the tutorial.
In CS5, Adobe has exposed the MRQ setting. It's at the bottom of the Export Settings dialog, in case you haven't found it yet.
En CS5 now has the option to use the AME for transcoding. You set that in the program Preferences. You can take advantage of the AME by going to File | Transcode Now in En.
And Jim is right. Take a short segment of your program that has scenes where you'll easily be able to tell if the quality is satisfactory, and follow your proposed workflow all the way through disc creation. Then you'll absolutely know whether or not everything is working as you expect, without having to endure the full 30-hour encoding time for the whole program. And use an RW disc for testing: no coasters.
Thanks Jim and Jeff. I'm definitely willing to try various tests myself but I'm equally happy to get suggestions from seasoned veterans like yourselves. I have a follow-up if you don't mind. Jeff, in your reply you said in CS5 just "export the 720p60 sequence straight to MPEG2 DVD 16:9 Progressive". In your tutorials you stressed that with 720p60 that we should export to interlaced. Just want to make sure that you are now telling me to oputput to progressive?
How do you guys determine bitrate setting when doing the encoding? I realize with shorter length videos it's not as much of an issue, but I typically have to deal with 2 to 2.5 hour videos so I have to scale back on the bitrates to make it fit on a 4.7GB DVD. I had a 2:17:00 video that I did a 2 pass VBR encode with 2-4-7 bitrate settings. After 30 hours it finished only to find I was 11 MB over the capacity of the DVD. I realize I can back it down to 3.8 and probably make it work, but just wondering if there is a better method or rules of thumb people use to pick the settings? Thanks again guys.
Jeff, in your reply you said in CS5 just "export the 720p60 sequence straight to MPEG2 DVD 16:9 Progressive". In your tutorials you stressed that with 720p60 that we should export to interlaced. Just want to make sure that you are now telling me to oputput to progressive?
Nope. You caught me. "Progressive" in my last reply was a mistake. You should indeed export the 720p60 sequence to interlaced 29.97 fps. I'm glad you took the time to ask before the long encoding winter set in.