You haven't really given us enough information to know, Paul.
You say you edited the video on a Mac. Did you edit it in Premiere Elements? What project settings did you use for your project? Did they match the specs of the video from that camcorder precisely? (You'll know because, if they did, you will need see a red line above your clips on the timeline until you add effects to them.)
Then you say you moved the project to a PC. How did you do this (since the PC version of Premiere Elements can't open a Mac version project file)? If you output your finished project from your Mac, what specs did you use for your shared video?
And then what settings did you select when you created a new project and imported this video into the PC version of the program?
Interlacing issues are usually the result of a poor match between project settings and your source video.
Also, as I'm sure you're aware, a DVD has a fraction of the resolution of an AVCHD hi-def video file. So clearly it's going to look less detailed (blurry?) if you blow it up beyond the 720x480 pixels it is designed to be viewed at. Does your DVD player have an upscale feature for doubling the pixels of a DVD when you show it on a hi-def TV?
Finally, a DVD holds only about 60-70 minutes of video at full video quality. If you're squeezing two hours of video on a standard DVD, the program must reduce the bitrate and quality of the picture to fit it all on -- another reason you may be seeing a reduction in quality.
So, as you can see, there are any number of places that the quality of your video may have suffered.
Sorry for not being more clear. I shot SD widescreen on Sony HDR-HC7 miniDV cameras (3) plus one Sony HDR-FX1 (also miniDV on widescreen). I deliberately shot in standard def since my computers don't have the horsepower to handle HD and many people still do not have blu-ray players to take advantage of the higher resolution anyway. I brought these files into Premiere Elements on my Mac as AVI files approximately 14 GB per hour. I then edited each scene and output an mpeg file (approx 3 GB per hour). I then compiled the scenes to create an act 1 movie and an act 2 movie which were then used to create the full feature onto which I added a Title and Credits. This formed the penultimate product which was output again as an mpeg 2 hours in length and 6.2 GB in size. Each step of the way the quality remained acceptable with no apparent loss from one step to the next.
I then took this final movie to my PC in a new project, where I added menu markers for the DVD. It was only when I tried to play it back from the physical DVD that the issue arose. This is not a problem with scaling up to the size of the TV since the image is equally poor on my computers. Even the titles and menu headings are fuzzy.
Last year when I did a 2.5 hour version of Les Miserables (entirely on the PC) I copied a 16 GB file to a single DVD and it worked without problem. So I don't think that is the issue either. I am currently using PE9 vs PE8 last year and I am using a different computer. Nevertheless, I don't understand how the image degrades so badly in this final step. More baffling is the fact that when you go into the folder on the DVD and play the various VOB files, the image is fine. As I mentioned previously, it is only when the movie plays directly as a result of inserting it into the player or computer that the quality is awful.
I am sorry, I don't understand what is bad.. The quality of the Disk Menus used or the video Quality?
I'm still not quite clear on your workflow.
First, why are you editing AVIs on your Mac? Your video should have been captured on your Mac as DV-MOVs. Did you not use Premiere Elements to capture the video?
Second, you should not have output these edited videos as MPEGs. You should have output them as DV quality MOVs (the equivalent to DV-AVIs on a PC). This would have maintained the original video's quality. Outputting as MPEGs and then compiling this video in a new project takes the video through two phases of conversion (from AVI to MPEG then, when you bring this video into a new project, from MPEG back to AVI/MOV) which could also account for your degraded quality.
So I maintain that your workflow is probably the reason for your degraded quality. (Going from DV quality MOV/AVIs to DVD should result in virtually the same quality image.)
That and the fact that you're squeezing too much video on a single DVD disc.
Although the way you're moving your moving your video around -- and adding unnecessary conversions in the process -- is probably the bigger issue.
Steve, thanks for the timely feedback. Being new to the Mac, I wasn't aware that MOV is essentially equivalent to AVI and I should have been. Anyway, I know the work flow sucks. It is a result of circumstance and not choice, and it is certainly making me want to purchase a dedicated workstation (but I will wait until Thunderbolt or at least USB 3.0 is available) rather than relying on my work laptop and an under-powered desktop. I was also trying to keep the video file sizes down since I was dealing with 9 views of every scene in a 2 hour production.
Be that as it may, the issue was still the final step going to the DVD. Last year, when I did Les Mis, I had no problem going from a 30 GB mpeg file down to the DVD. So I just tried connecting my laptop directly to the TV and when I play the current 8 GB file directly from the computer, the quality is fine. However, when I play the DVD from my computer to the TV (or even just on the computer itself) the quality is terrible.
So what was different from last year??? The only thing I can think of was that last year I shot in 4:3 ratio where as this video was done in 16:9. Is it possible that the aspect ratio is creating this problem?
To resolve it, will try to copy to an 8.5 GB folder and then burn that to either a dual layer disc or onto two separate discs. I hope by reducing the compression that I will retain the quality. I'll let you know the outcome.
When you say the individual vob files from the DISK look Ok on your computer this seems to indicate there is something wrong (or incompatible) with your player.
Do the disk VOB files look the same as you computer VOB files when viewed on your computer? If so then your computer burner might be out of alignment to the alignment of your player or it might be capable of more sensitive reading than your TV player.
I find I cant use PE9 to reliably burn Blue ray projects on a 4x speed Blue Ray blank disk because my burner is 8x and PE9 has no adjustment to slow the burning process down. I get nothing on some BD players and a perfect picture on others! So I have to use another program to burn.
Have you tried viewing the disk on someone else's player and TV?
A possibility is you have only partially 'burnt" the disk and it had dropped a lot of data because you did it too fast.
Try burning at a slower speed from a folder using a different burner program like imgburn or Power. (try Verbatum disks)
The indentations made by the data in the layer on a burnt disk can be smaller if written too fast and your DVD player may not be sensitive enough to play some of them. Some cheap DVD players are notorious for this.
Unless you have a double layer burner and disks, if you put 2hrs in a 1 hour disk you will end up with up to half the quality anyway depending on the detail of your pics which if it a stage show, will be very detailed. Try splitting into 2 projects
I presume you are using a new widescreen TV and not an old 4x3?
When you "added" menu markers and titles did you import the edited file into PE on a PC and use this to make the DVD? If so you are rendering the project twice.
I would try making the final DVD and markers using Sony Architect on your PC from your mac file. (free trial download) and burn slower.
I always thought early versions of PE made fuzzy titles but PE9 makes nice sharp titles letters.