Help with workflow on a big video project.

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    • #37696
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Hello all. I’ve been lurking around here today, and it looks like a great place to get some advice, so I hope some of you experienced people will read my post and give me some help. I’ll be eternally grateful! I’m going to lay out what the project is, what my skills and equipment are, and then the questions I have.

      Here’s the deal… I’m a classical pianist and piano teacher. Over the years, I’ve made many videos of my playing with mixed results in terms of quality. Recently I published a whole piano method book, and I am planning to create a series of instructional videos to support it. My idea is that I’ll make them available for purchase as downloads on my site as I produce them. When the whole series is complete I will want to also slap them all on a DVD which I will also sell.

      My budget is extremely limited, and I am doing this as a do-it-yourself project. I just purchased a pocket HD camcorder (Sony Webbie). (In the past, I have borrowed cameras from friends.) I have a nice audio recording setup already (3 mics that I connect to a firewire interface and record directly to the computer. I am already skilled at swapping out the audio from the camera with the audio from my mics and syncing it up. I use Sony Vegas Movie Studio and SoundForge. I am also skilled at trimming clips, switching between them, crossfading, etc. My computer is running XP, has a Pentium 4 at 2.8gHz, 1GB RAM, and the video card is an Nvidia NV34 (GeForce FX 5200) with only 128MB memory

      OK, so now the issues… I know that the Webbie camera records in a lossy format that isn’t ideal for editing with, but it’s all I can use. It records in mp4 format with H.264 compression. What I want to know from you guys is what should my workflow be in terms of file formats for input and rendering? I don’t really think HD is important for the final product. I’m quite sure standard definition would be fine, though I do like the widescreen format (it’s especially good for showing the whole piano keyboard from above). Also, I don’t want the final filesize for the downloads to be too huge.

      So, what I’m thinking is to record in 1080p HD format and WAV audio so I can get the maximum quality out of the equipment I have. Import all the files into Vegas. Edit to my heart’s content. Then render the final product again as mp4 H.264 but with AAC audio. I think this is the most universal file format these days. However, I’d make the video size for my final renders more like 1024×576. I am thinking that since I am editing a lossy format source and then resaving into a lossy format, starting with 1920×1080 and than shrinking to 1024×576 in the final step will preserve as much quality as possible.

      QUESTIONS:
      1. Are my assumptions correct about lossiness, file formats, and picture dimensions?
      2. Will my computer even be able to handle this? If not, can I get away with just buying a new video card?
      3. Do you think my final product will be acceptable in that format and size both for viewing on a computer or on a tv screen?
      4. Do you have any advice on the best settings to use when rendering the project files to get good quality with a reasonable file size?
      5. I’ve had some confusion in the past over rectangular vs. square pixels. I don’t want the image to look distorted. How can I avoid this? Are there input settings and output settings I need to be aware of so I don’t screw this up? (Again, I want it to look right on the computer and also if outputted to a tv screen.)
      6. Finally, should I render the files differently depending on whether they will be individual digital downloads, or tracks on a traditional DVD?

      If you have read all this, I thank you thank you thank you! I know this is a tall order from someone who is completely new to the forum. But, like I said, if you are inclined to help me, I’ll truly appreciate it. I’ll even give you credit as an advisor on the project if you want, though I can’t imagine it would do much for your career, lol.

    • #167072
      AvatarEarlC
      Member

      Hello Rachel:

      I am NOT a techie, nor a full-blown computer (PC or Mac) nerd, BUT I do know enough to tell you that primarily your assumptions are all correct. You have a handle on the audio aspect of things (of course, you’re a musician and undoubtedly have a golden ear – I don’t: one ear doesn’t work, relegating me to mono πŸ™‚ and I’m tone deaf more or less…).

      My editing and production experience is based on standard definition SD, using Canon XL1 and GL2 SD camcorders with MiniDV digital acquisition, and a host of mics, standalone recording devices (Zoom H2/H4, etc.) but all on Mac gear & Final Cut Pro/related software.

      Your last question: No. 6 – YES, I’m sure others will agree as this post comes to their collective attention. When you’ve done all your editing and finessing you will want to render differently based on using the finished videos for web vs DVD distribution. You will want a file rendered specifically for web use/download (though MP4 H.264 is some fairly decent quality stuff) and a “DVD Quality” file for burning and replication. Probably, dedicate an external hard drive to holding those files.

      I have NO working knowledge of your system or software, other than being aware that Vegas and Sound Forge are GREAT tools. Some here know your system AND software and will soon pipe in as well. It does sound to me like, for your intent and purposes however, that what you have should be adequate.

      Earl

    • #167073
      AvatarSteveMann
      Participant

      I am impressed with your website – very well done.

      ANSWERS:
      1. Are my assumptions correct about lossiness, file formats, and picture dimensions?

      You can edit MP4 directly on the timeline, but I recommend that you do a DV intermediate (.avi). Do all your editing on the avi file then when you’re finished encode your output file in mp4. (The encode options are misplaced in the “render as” menu).

      2. Will my computer even be able to handle this? If not, can I get away with just buying a new video card?

      Your computer should be able to handle this easily, especially if you make an avi intermediate. Why would you need a new display card?

      3. Do you think my final product will be acceptable in that format and size both for viewing on a computer or on a tv screen?

      A TV screen is a native 640×480 display. It is also probably good enough for downloading. Larger video sizes would only look marginally better but take a lot longer to download. I woulf reconsider this plan, or offer two download options.

      4.
      Do you have any advice on the best settings to use when rendering the
      project files to get good quality with a reasonable file size?

      If you intend the video to be downloaded before playing, then your larger form factors will be OK, but consider what the user has for a PC. Again, I think 640×480 should be just fine. If you intend the files to be displayed progressively as they are downloaded, then 640×40 is the largest I would go. The filesize is directly determined by the bitrate. You will have to determine for yourself what bitrate to use because the quality is inversely proportional to the bitrate.

      5.
      I’ve had some confusion in the past over rectangular vs. square pixels.
      I don’t want the image to look distorted. How can I avoid this? Are
      there input settings and output settings I need to be aware of so I
      don’t screw this up? (Again, I want it to look right on the computer
      and also if outputted to a tv screen.)

      The CRT TV uses rectangular pixels. Everything else is square. Plan on a square world, and if your user has an older CRT TV, then the image will be slightly out of round. Live with it.

      6. Finally, should I render
      the files differently depending on whether they will be individual
      digital downloads, or tracks on a traditional DVD?

      Depends on how you plan to deliver them. If it’s by progressive download, then I would encode (not render) each lesson separately.

      If you have read all this, I thank you thank you thank you! I know
      this is a tall order from someone who is completely new to the forum.
      But, like I said, if you are inclined to help me, I’ll truly appreciate
      it. I’ll even give you credit as an advisor on the project if you want,
      though I can’t imagine it would do much for your career, lol.

      Thanks, I would appreciate the credit. Especially if I could get a backlink from your site. Don’t be afraid of asking for advice here, or on the Sony Vegas forums.

      Steve Mann
      MannMade Digital Video
      http://www.mmdv.com

    • #167074
      AvatarAnonymous
      Inactive

      Rachel,

      i can’t really answer your questions as I have never really used the equipment that you speak of (the Sony cam, Sony Vegas, etc.) But, I would suggest you check out http://videopia.org

      Post your questions on his forum..

      Eric Franks (videopia.org) is a technical genius and he uses Sony Vegas. I believe he has worked on their manuals for the program or at least training at one time or another. I would start there. He has many great resources and explanations of video for the web, compression, authoring to DVD, etc…..

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