Clay, AVCHD footage is com



AVCHD footage is compressed. Also, putting effects on compressed video usually makes it look worse. Also, you’re taking compressed HD video and then compressing them down further to standard def for MPEG2 to go onto a DVD. Each step degrades the image further. Not to mention if you’ve got good computer monitors, you’re footage in the preview window will look much better. What you’ll need is a feed to an actual television to see what the footage is going to look like there. I don’t know if Elements has the capability to let you view your footage on a TV at the same time you’re editing it. You’ll want to calibrate the tv using colorbars to get your tv close to NTSC standards as possible.

Every step taken to improve your footage during the production phase will make things easier and improve the material you’ll have to work with in post. Lighting even with a reading lamp in the right place with the right exposure can work wonders. (I know, I’ve done it) Remember shooting film or video is nothing more than painting with light. So yeah you could get a ‘Godfather’ look with a little know-how and light placement.

Now far as ‘jaggies and artifacts’ go, again part of the problem is your working with compressed video. Another question I have is are you just putting clips on DVD or are you making a complete edit? I ask because you mentioned ‘compiling the files as a final DVD.’

The most direct way is to cut your video clips into one complete video on your timeline and then export the timeline (or work area) as an uncompressed HD QT or AVI at whatever pixel size you shot it at (1280 x 720p, 1920 x 1080i/p.)

This will give you a single movie or ‘Digital Print’. When making your DP, if you shot it with a progressive scan camera, you don’t need to deinterlace. If you shot it with an interaced camera you can use deinterlacing if you plan to show it on a progressive scan tv or computer screen. There will still be some interlacing left but on an interlaced tv you won’t see the ‘jaggies’. Then take that DP, and make a new project and then export it as a SD widescreen 16 x 9 @ 720 x 480 MPEG2.

Once you’ve got the MPEG2, play it with a feed out to a tv to double check what it’s going to look like. If there are no problems there, then all you should have left to do is hook up your menus and graphics ’cause you’re done with the video part. Check your data rate settings for burning to DVD. Now since you’ve already turned your vid into an MPEG2, your DVD software will convert everything into another MPEG2 which will compress it more. You’ll lose more data from the video but it will help you keep the data rate around 7 or 8 Mbps and keep the size of the video from going over the max data rate of the DVD disc.

You can skip turning your Digital Print into an MPEG2 if your software will allow you to import the HD video. If it does, you’ll no doubt have to tweak the data rate to compress it down enough to not blow your data budget. Problem with that is most DVD players prefer to run DVD’s in the 6-8 Mbps range.

The bottom line is to accept the fact that you are not going to get an HD movie by putting it on an SD DVD disc. The quality and clarity of your film will depend on your camera (you’re using a consumer grade video camera), how well your scenes were lit, whether you used the raw clips in AVCHD or converted them to uncompressed, and what your compression settings were when you converted your HD edited movie into an SD MPEG2 to burn on DVD and the last bit of compression accrued from the process of burning everything onto an SD DVD.

You shoot it as best you can then take the steps to keep the quality high as you can during the post and DVD authoring process. Keep in mind that you’re using consumer grade gear and software so it’s only going to look so good. Now if you’re still having problems after all that, then there may be codec issues or hardware issues that are beyond the scope of this particular topic.

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