Shaun, I too bought a ‘900



I too bought a ‘900’ series camcorder, in my case a SD-900. I am delighted by its image-quality. Like you, I wished to put my stuff onto DVD, and at first, I took the easy-way-out and used the software which came on the disc with the camcorder. Big mistake, as it happened, because, nothing I did would secure me decent results. Finally, I reverted to what I ‘usually-did’, used TMPGEnc ‘Video Mastering Workshop 5’ software and did it the ‘hard-way’, one clip at a time, taking the opportunity to get rid of any substandard footage, at the same time. Result, an almost unbelievable improvement in quality. A day’s shooting can be teed up for re-processing in a long evening’s work, and batches assembled for processing overnight, as I sleep. By breakfast, it’s generally ready for indexing and giving the alpha-numerical coding I use.

The whole thing is dictated, it seems, by ‘The DVD-standard’. it is possible in VMW5 to simply use their ‘preset’ for that purpose, however, I became interested in how far that could be tweaked. You can make the settings pretty-much what you like, but if you set the scan-rate, for instance, too high, your DVD’s will not be playable on all DVD-players. Additionally, you may find that settings too high, will not work with your authoring software, when delivery to DVD is the desired outcome.

I would be wary of increasing the ‘top’ setting above 8000b/s very much, I change the settings so that 8000 is the ‘average’, and about 8300 the ‘peak’ which may call for you to settle on a rather low setting at the bottom end of the scale, but that is largely irrelevant. I also sacrifice disc-capacitysomewhat, by setting ‘quality’ high. The outcomes on a 32inch ‘Panasonic’ flat-screen, using the PALraster of 720 x 576, are very good indeed, especially in 16:9 widescreen, which is all I have ever used since the 1970’s, film and anamorphics. In fact, there is no difference, that I can see, between what I obtain that way, and High-definition ex my DVD-recorder’s hard-drive (as 720 x 576 mpg2, of course). I always use double-pass and VBR to keep quality to a maximum. It seems that with scan-rate, above 7000, or so, you begin to enter an environment of ‘diminishing-returns’.

The ‘colour’ discrepancy might be due to you having selected a ‘simple’ setting when it comes to colour alternatives. I usually use the ‘simple’ setting in TMPGEnc software myself, then at an advanced stage, I go through the video, clip by clip, doing a final check on colour fidelity and ‘tone’. It’s a bit tedious, but it makes for great results. A crude way of doing that, would be to corral the entire video content within a ‘rubber-band’ (I use Magix MEP-MX currently), and darken the entire video content en-masse, using the settings available in the software as ‘video-effects’. That way, should colour-balance correction be needed, it’s right ‘next-door’ and is easily invoked at the same time.

Plus, I use ‘top-field-first’, always have.

Ian Smith – Dunedin, New Zealand

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