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You are getting very mixed up here or at least the language of your post is confusing.
Regardless of what flavour of HD you shoot and edit in, compressing for SD DVD involves resizing and effectively 'downrezzing' your footage so it will never look as good as HD. In PAL land where I live SD DVD is 720*576, NTSC is I believe 720*480. So to compress something to watch on a DVD player you want to be using those dimensions to begin with - there is probably a DVD preset that does that.
If, instead, you are talking about delivering to the client as some other file such as H.264, Flash or WMV then I would still down rez just to make it playback better - a 1440*1080 WMV wont play nicely on most PCs.
The settings you state below, by the way, look more like those you'd use for HD DVD or Blu-Ray.
In terms of using the Media Encoder in CS4, if it's any consolation, I've never got a decent HD to SD conversion out of it.
Finally the quality of DVD or other file playback can vary enormously depending on the monitor so check it on a couple of others and if it's a DVD, try it on a TV.
Maybe post exactly what you're trying to achieve and I'm sure others will chip in.
Thanks for this advise. You are right. I find compression confusing and more so HD exporting, so your comments were very helpful. I agree that monitors definitely make a difference. The output is certainly better than what my SD camera produced, so I guess we all have to wait until BlueRay is the norm in all business offices.
Thanks for that very useful tutorial. I used that HIDDEN fly out menu and it did make a difference. I still think there is a bit of softening that happens with the mpg compression on movement, but it is certainly better than previous results. Thanks again for making some sense of this for me and providing a viable solution.
Is there any benefitl to changing the GOP N frames to 7.5 since I have a lot of camera movement, (handheld behind the scenes of a summit)? Or will this max my system too much. I'm on Vista with CS4 so I'm not using all my 64bit power.
Regards, Christine Z
Well, the usual solution is to just increase the bit rate. For burned discs, using a quality burner and quality blank media like Taiyo Yuden or Verbatim, don't go above 8 Mbps. The DVD Spec limits DVD-legal MPEG2 video to 9.8 Mbps. But that's way too high unless you're replicating your discs from a glass master. For burned discs, setting 7 as an average is good, but you can increase that towards 8 if you want. You can also consider CBR at 8 Mbps.
For temporally-compressed codecs like MPEG2, there's an oddity: the more frequent the I-frames, the higher the bit rate has to be. So an 8 Mbps bit rate with an I-frame every 15 frames will likely look better than an 8 Mbps bit rate with an I-frame every 7 frames. That's not intuitive, but it makes sense. All of the bits get used up on the I-frames, so there's not many left for the other frames.