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HD to SD conversion

Feb 7, 2012 7:49 AM

Hello,

 

I would like to know how can I convert Full HD footage to SD without the slightest loss of picture quality.

When we get the new DVDs from the DVD stores, we can see that although those movies (like Avatar) have been shot in HD or 4K,

the DVD version has a picture of super clarity.

I don't care how much money these softwares or conversion methods cost. Since it can be done, I would like to ask if anyone knows about the best method to convert HD footage to SD without any picture quality.

 

Thank you!

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 7, 2012 8:18 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    Use a Hollywood class encoder that supports at least 9-pass VBR and get a couple of encoding specialists that optimize the encoding between scenes. It may take 2 months to get the encoding right, but then you have the best SD quality possible. Look at Cinema Craft Encoder Pro ($ 38000) or similar. And you may have a hard time finding the correct calibre of encoding artists, since they are usually employed in Hollywood and hard to come by.

     

    Even then you still lose huge amounts of quality, because of the resolution loss.

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 9:56 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    If they claim that for the SP version, I would believe them. Haven't tried it myself.

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 10:39 AM   in reply to Harm Millaard

    Something to consider - the conversion of HD to SD is not handled by the MPEG-2 encoder itself, and that downscaling is the root of most quality issues with HD to DVD jobs, especially with 1080i footage (interlaced). Adobe Media Encoder offers the "Maximum Render Quality" button which helps, but may not always meet everyone's expectations.

     

    Some users have tried drastic measures such as the "HD2SD" script using the VirtualDub and AVI Synth apps. Using this workflow is not for the faint of heart though, requires much research and effort and experimentation, but can ultimately yield superior results in the downconversion process.

     

    Just checked here - http://www.cinemacraftusa.com/ccesp3_specs.php and it clearly states that it CANNOT be used as a plugin for Premiere. It also is a 32-bit only software.

     

    Jeff Pulera

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 11:04 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    While not "without a slight loss in quality," you might find Jeff Bellune's HD to SD TUTORIAL worth the effort.

     

    Good luck,

     

    Hunt

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 11:32 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    Jeff Belllune has another tutorial that is more PPro specific for converting HD to SD for DVD: http://www.bellunevideo.com/tutdetail.php?tutid=10

    Although it refers to CS4, it also works in CS5 with minor modifications that should be obvious.

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 1:40 PM   in reply to giannis72str

    without the slightest loss of picture quality.

     

    It's simply not possible.  By definition, SD will be lower resolution and hence lesser quality than HD.

     

    As good as the Avatar DVD looks, the high def Blu-ray looks even better.  And the 4K original shown in theaters looks better still.

     

    Less resolution means less quality.  There's just no way around that.

     

    So the idea will be to get a downres with a little quality loss as possible.  There will be some, you can't stop it.  But you can minimize it by using Jeff's method, and by encoding the converted files to something lossless.

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 1:43 PM   in reply to giannis72str

    CinemaCraft Encoder is expecting to be fed an SD source file at 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL). Getting the HD to SD must be done prior to the MPEG-2 encoding. You're right, there is "upres" software, but no one seems to have quite mastered the downres part of it...

     

    Jeff

     

    This Jeff has very good tutorials but isn't there a software that can do the perfect job without using so many steps. Isn't there a pluging like Magic bullet HD (which converts SD footage to HD in one step) but doing the opposite task? Maybe it's Cinema Craft Encoder, I guess...

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 1:48 PM   in reply to SAFEHARBOR11

    no one seems to have quite mastered the downres part of it...

     

    I have to say I've been quite satisfied with Premiere Pro's handling of the job in CS 5.  So much so that I've never felt the need to even try Dan Isaac's method detailed in Jeff's tutorial (which was actually created to overcome the faults of earlier versions of PP).

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 2:09 PM   in reply to giannis72str

    If you are already creating HD to DVD that looks "absolutely perfect", then a new encoder is not what you need. Your DVD video is interlaced; computer displays are progressive. You might try a different DVD player software, but it sounds like the DVD itself is not the issue at all. DVDs look bad on my PC as well.

     

    Jeff

     
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    Feb 7, 2012 2:50 PM   in reply to giannis72str

    You need dvd software to play the dvd properly. Dont use WMP for that

    Power dvd or Windvd.

    These players deinterlace the dvd for viewing.

    Even VLC plays dvd's perfectly if you set it to de-interlace first.

     
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    Feb 8, 2012 9:49 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    The professional ones start with film.  The professional ones use very expensive software for editing and authoring.

     

    You may not be able to duplicate Hollywood's quality on this one.

     
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    Feb 9, 2012 10:01 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    I need the best encoding and authoring software available in the global market .

     

    I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere for that.  And don't be surprised if the price goes into six figures.

     
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    Feb 11, 2012 4:42 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    I have been struggling with the same problems for months. I have been trying to find a downscaler plugin or stand-alone converter that could do proper downscaling, but still wouldn't cost a fortune. I had no luck, so I started to study the theory of downsampling.

     

    I ended up writing own plugin for After Effects with Pixel Bender. It gives a lot smoother results than AE's default scaling. The trade off is that the result is softer, but for me softer is not nearly as bad as poorly downconverted video with all kind of artifacts.

     

    The brand new plugin can be downloaded from here: https://sites.google.com/site/katisvideotoolbox/smooth-bspline-scaler. You can give it a try. The best thing is that it doensn't cost a fortune. It's free.

     

    Kati Haapamäki

     
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    Feb 11, 2012 4:49 AM   in reply to Katsa

    Well thank you very much. I will certainly give it a spin.

     
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    Feb 11, 2012 8:59 AM   in reply to giannis72str

    Are you choosing progressive dvd in encore when you are creating the dvd? First off, forget dvd since it is going the way of VHS much like Blu-ray will one day as well. GEt yourself a blu-ray burner and save yourself the hassel and have video that is almost 5 times better, Converting to DVD is a terrible idea. But if you still wan't to make a dvd use send to encore in premiere or encode it to blu-ray with the highest bitrate to keep quality and then import it to encore and then build your dvd in encore. This should give you the best quality and the right resolution without making it look to squashed. I would advise against making a mpeg2 in premiere because premiere just doesn't do a good job with mpeg2 and your computer will probably crash.

     
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    May 10, 2012 9:01 AM   in reply to bertrenolds

    Bertrenolds,

    Did I read correctly?  You are stating that when delivering for DVD5 SD media:

    1) Don't use MpegDVD in Premiere to encode. encode to blu-ray and use the highest bitrate

    2) Take the blu-ray file, import it into Encore, and let encore down-convert it to the SD format when I render the DVD?

     

    I have been unsatisfied with how Premeire CS3 and now CS5 encodes for quite a while.  I got better encoding from Premiere Pro Version 1.

     

    Thanks.

     
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    May 12, 2012 10:06 AM   in reply to gabjr99

    I would give that a try, that's basically what I have been doing minus the doen conversion to dvd, I still don't understand why someone would want to do such a think but I guess not everyone has a blueray player. And CS3's encoder left alot to be desired, cs5's encoder however is alot better and I actually use it instead of using frameserver to export the file out of premiere. I believe encore will be your best option to encode to dvd, premiere still has bugs and doesn't like doing that conversion. Try using just H.264 and importing to encore keeping all the correct setting and then try h.264 blueray if that doesnt work, don't use mpeg2blueray, I'm not even sure what that does, probably makes an mpeg that goes on a blueray.

     
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    May 12, 2012 10:30 AM   in reply to bertrenolds

    bertrenolds wrote:

     

    But if you still wan't to make a dvd use send to encore in premiere or encode it to blu-ray with the highest bitrate to keep quality and then import it to encore and then build your dvd in encore. This should give you the best quality and the right resolution without making it look to squashed. I would advise against making a mpeg2 in premiere because premiere just doesn't do a good job with mpeg2 and your computer will probably crash.

     

     

    gabjr99 wrote:

     

    Bertrenolds,

    Did I read correctly?  You are stating that when delivering for DVD5 SD media:

    1) Don't use MpegDVD in Premiere to encode. encode to blu-ray and use the highest bitrate

    2) Take the blu-ray file, import it into Encore, and let encore down-convert it to the SD format when I render the DVD?

     

     

    bertrenolds wrote:

     

    I believe encore will be your best option to encode to dvd, premiere still has bugs and doesn't like doing that conversion. Try using just H.264 and importing to encore keeping all the correct setting and then try h.264 blueray if that doesnt work, don't use mpeg2blueray, I'm not even sure what that does, probably makes an mpeg that goes on a blueray.

     

    wth?

     

    did I just read this correctly? to get the best dvd, export your HD footage out of PrPro as a blu-ray h.264 file, and import the blu-ray h.264 file  into a dvd En project, and have encore transcode the h.264 file to dvd-mpeg? did i really just read that?

     

    you do realize that mpeg is the dvd disc spec STANDARD right? and essentially all the OP is doing is compressing his video, to go be re-compressed again. some bad advice...

     
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    May 12, 2012 1:35 PM   in reply to Keith_Clark

    You do realize that premiere is buggy as hell and has been when it comes to encoding and I would think keeping it as a h.264 and cranking up the bit rate would keep the highest quality for it to then be imported into encore to be converted to dvd. People are having crashing problems exporting to dvd in permiere when converting HDV video to mpeg2 which is stupid thing to do IMO as I have stated already. Why would you compress HDV to DVD?

     

    Demon hunter, I have been dealing with permiere for alot longer then you probably have so save your critisizm for someone else and unless you are helping don't post! Yes re-encoding does lose some quality but that outcome is alot better then not being able to do it at all.

     

    [Edited for content]

     
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    May 12, 2012 10:56 AM   in reply to bertrenolds

    i've been using premiere since cs3, and have never had a problem even converting HD vid.... but majority of the time i go to Blu-Ray format.

     

    i would have offered to export the HD as, like, say an AVI? or something lossless, then have encore encode that? i dunno. i just have never had a problem going from source footage to dvd-mpeg. maybe i'm lucky? *shrug* it just seems preposterous to export from source to.... the wrong format, then to have encore correct it.... when you could juts export to the right format to begin with.... skip the middle man.

     

    but i queue my exports so nothing gets locked up. the only time i have ever had an export problem is accidentally making an adjustment to the timeline while exporting. then AME locks up.

     
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    May 12, 2012 12:53 PM   in reply to Keith_Clark

    Encore's encoding engine is identical to Premiere Pro's.  Nothing is to be gained by encoding to H.264 from Pr and then encoding to MPEG2 DVD in Encore.  If the encoding process to MPEG2 DVD from Pr is unstable or unusable for anyone (it's not here), then the best bet is to export a lossless intermediate file from Pr (AVI or MOV) and then encode that to MPEG2 DVD with another encoder.  You can use Encore, but the free HC Encoder usually does a better job.

     

    The biggest quality problems usually involve scaling HDV down to SD DVD resolution.  The deinterlacing in Pr is the main quality variable.  If you have GPU acceleration of the MPE enabled, then the deinterlacing becomes a non-issue.  If you use software MPE, then be sure to check the Maximum Render Quality checkbox in the Export Settings dialog to get high-quality deinterlacing out of Pr.  Just be prepared for a major time hit when using MRQ.

     

    And if you queue your export to the AME, always check MRQ because the AME in some cases falls back to software MPE even if hardware MPE is enabled in Pr.

     

    Jeff

     
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    May 12, 2012 1:12 PM   in reply to Jeff Bellune

    Jeff Bellune wrote:

     

    The biggest quality problems usually involve scaling HDV down to SD DVD resolution.  The deinterlacing in Pr is the main quality variable.  If you have GPU acceleration of the MPE enabled, then the deinterlacing becomes a non-issue. If you use software MPE, then be sure to check the Maximum Render Quality checkbox in the Export Settings dialog to get high-quality deinterlacing out of Pr.  Just be prepared for a major time hit when using MRQ.

     

    Jeff

    this bears repeating.

     
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    May 14, 2012 7:23 AM   in reply to Jeff Bellune

    Hi Jeff,

     

    You mention deinterlacing a couple of times - are you recommending then that a 1080i source should be encoded for DVD as progressive video?

     

    I've watched all your tutorials in the past and am currently using the HD2SD workflow method. I appreciate your contributions to the Adobe community.

     

    Thank you

     

    Jeff Pulera

    Safe Harbor

     
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    May 14, 2012 7:51 AM   in reply to SAFEHARBOR11

    are you recommending then that a 1080i source should be encoded for DVD as progressive video?

    No, I'm not recommending that.  But if you have a high-quality deinterlacer in use, then it probably won't matter if you do.  hd2sd gives you a choice of deinterlacers based on the DeintMethod parameter setting.  And Pr CS5.5+ has much better deinterlacing than earlier versions of Pr.  The high-quality deinterlacing in Pr is used automatically (and it's fast!) when hardware MPE is in use, and it's selected manually by the Maximum Render Quality control when software MPE is in use.  But software MPE and MRQ is a very slow combination.

     

    Jeff

     
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