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Movies and Video For people making movies and editing video with their Mac.

iMovie - Any advice on quality?


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yan03

 
Member Since: Jul 16, 2009
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Hi,

I am a noob with videos and I recently made a video with iMovie and used iDvd to make the .img file.

Here is what I did;
1. I broke my project down into 5 parts.
2. Export from iMovie using the IMovie encoder at the highest quality (I am not using the 09 version) to give me files with m4v extension.
3. Assembled the 5 parts with Quicktime which gave me a .mov file.

The quality of the m4v files is pretty good (H264 afterall). The .mov file produced seems to have the quality preserved(then again, I don't know much about videos).

4. I designed a DVD menu(which took an incredible amount of time to render) with iDvd and linked my video to it. As I don't have a DVD burner, I exported everything to a .img file.

Question: is there any of the steps that I could have done better to obtain a better quality?
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Nethfel

 
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First question - what is the problem with the quality? you seem to mention that prior to step 4, the quality *seems* preserved, so what does the quality look like at 4? What type of source material are you starting with (HD? SD? etc.) Have you burned a DVD and actually watched it on a TV? (sorry, but the DVD playback quality on OSX, especially at full screen is not what I would call optimal)

Now, also - why did you do steps 1 - 3?

I don't really know what your project is, but you've now done multiple conversions of video potentially degrading quality.

If it were me, I probably would have done all of the piecing within iMovie of the 5 parts, then exported either using the built in export preset (doubtful, I usually hate lack of options) or using export using quicktime conversion and then brought it into iDVD.

iDVD is kind of lacking in control on video quality, it'll usually make its own guess, and its own conversion of video from whatever the original import format was (.mov H.264 or other) to mpeg2.

A little more info on the problem might help make it easier for someone in the forums to help out with your specific issue - I know XStep knows a lot about iMovie and iDVD, but right now it's a little vague as to what quality issues you're running into and exactly where you're having them.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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If you have a DVD drive and leopard (10.5) and maybe other operating systems but I don't have them so I don't know for sure.

on iDVD save file as .iso then select use both.

Once it saves remove the extension after .iso

then open disk utility and select burn. (make sure a blank DVD is in the DVD drive)

choose your .iso file and you will have it burned to a DVD.

Disk utility comes with 10.5 not sure about the other operating systems.

I really can't see a way of getting better quality if it didn't change when you converted it to a .mov file.

A man who is not one for words once told me...
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yan03

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethfel View Post
First question - what is the problem with the quality? you seem to mention that prior to step 4, the quality *seems* preserved, so what does the quality look like at 4? What type of source material are you starting with (HD? SD? etc.) Have you burned a DVD and actually watched it on a TV? (sorry, but the DVD playback quality on OSX, especially at full screen is not what I would call optimal)
The problem is that converting a video has a great chance of degrading the quality of the video. My sources are of different quality, unluckily.

No, I haven't yet watched it on TV but I can see there is a difference. There is a transition with text that I added at the beginning. Surprisingly, I found watching the quality of the text a good way to determine the quality of the movie.

Quote:
Now, also - why did you do steps 1 - 3?
This is because modularizing the project makes more sense to me and then later I did not know how to make iMovie export all the project into 1 big file.

I did my research and all what I could find was potentially dangerous.
Let's face it, you wouldn't want to alter the file you've worked on for hours by a method not using iMovie tooling.

Quote:
I don't really know what your project is, but you've now done multiple conversions of video potentially degrading quality.
True. I am not sure but I've read that piecing everything together with Quicktime does not actually degrade the quality.

Quote:
If it were me, I probably would have done all of the piecing within iMovie of the 5 parts, then exported either using the built in export preset (doubtful, I usually hate lack of options) or using export using quicktime conversion and then brought it into iDVD.
I tried the Quicktime conversion. None of them came close to the iMovie encoder, even the dv format. A very time-consuming experiment.

Quote:
iDVD is kind of lacking in control on video quality, it'll usually make its own guess, and its own conversion of video from whatever the original import format was (.mov H.264 or other) to mpeg2.
I think this conversion is the one which killed the quality the most.
While the menu is great, I wonder if that was really necessary. My project is like double its size now and I went through a lot of trouble to get iDvd to finish the img file.
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xstep

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
I tried the Quicktime conversion. None of them came close to the iMovie encoder, even the dv format. A very time-consuming experiment.
if you exporting from iMovie manually, you should be able to match or better the automatic selections. See my iMovie export guide for some hints.

What version of iMovie are you using? What are the different source material that is causing your to do separate exports?

iDVD converts what you give it to MPEG2 and appropriate audio files. That process is what takes so long. You want to feed it standard definition or higher resolution which it converts to standard definition. For HD, Toast or some other application would be required.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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yan03

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xstep View Post
if you exporting from iMovie manually, you should be able to match or better the automatic selections. See my iMovie export guide for some hints.
Nice tutorial. Wished I knew that beforehand.

Quote:
What version of iMovie are you using? What are the different source material that is causing your to do separate exports?
I am using iMovie 08. Being a computer science student, modularization is something important. For example, it makes the development of any project easier; my movie is 2 hour long. If when viewing the movie, I find something I am not too happy with, I can easily pinpoint it.
After I know I arrived at a good stage, I don't want my future "bad" development interfere with the good ones.

If the project was bigger and more people were working on it, it makes things easier as well.

Hope that makes sense.

Quote:
iDVD converts what you give it to MPEG2 and appropriate audio files. That process is what takes so long. You want to feed it standard definition or higher resolution which it converts to standard definition. For HD, Toast or some other application would be required.
Would an app such as Toast provide me the option of creating a DVD menu?
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Nethfel

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
Being a computer science student, modularization is something important. For example, it makes the development of any project easier; my movie is 2 hour long. If when viewing the movie, I find something I am not too happy with, I can easily pinpoint it.
After I know I arrived at a good stage, I don't want my future "bad" development interfere with the good ones.
I, as a programmer, do understand the mentality. I as a video editor rarely use modularization for a single project (although I also use FCE and FCP which makes modularization much easier and much cleaner then iMovie. Plus FCP can both export and import EDL's so as long as everyone on a project had all of the source material it's easy to share (but my projects are usually short, about an hour in length, and don't usually work with other people on them aside from having them check titles and credits)).

If you're going to stick with iMovie to do your editing, and attempt to maintain modularity - I'd suggest a different path to reduce the amount of wasted time exporting and importing.

Create multiple projects, each with their own footage
Edit the layout, transitions, etc. of the projects.
Create a final project
Copy the layout from project 1 - paste it into the final project, then repeat for project 2, 3, 4, etc.
Once you have all of the projects "merged" into the "final project" then export that project.

You will find that this process is much faster, and doesn't require multiple transcoding of the video - this is because when you copy the edit list from an imovie project and paste it into another, you're not actually copying video, but the edit instructions. Then once you're done, just export the final project.

This should save you a lot of time, and reduce the risk of quality loss from multiple transcoding.

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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xstep

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
Nice tutorial. Wished I knew that beforehand.
Thank you.

I've started writing another one titled 'Coping with iMovie Bloat'. It is about the iMovie folder structure and how you can move the assets between different drives. This can be important for drive performance and for releasing needed space on your startup drive. I'm not sure about that title.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
Being a computer science student, modularization is something important.
...
Hope that makes sense.
LOL. I've been a software developer since 88, so yea, I get comp 101.


Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
Would an app such as Toast provide me the option of creating a DVD menu?
Toast is not as fancy as iDVD. They have templates that are not that flexible. The point I was trying to make was that you could use it for creating Blu-Ray discs if needed, even onto DVD discs.

I prefer iDVD because it is so easy and gives a very nice result. I've played with Apple's pro software DVD Studio Pro as well. To do the things that iDVD does takes a little work, but of course it is highly customizable and has many extra features.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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yan03

 
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By the way, merging the 5 different parts do not cause quality loss, as least not to my eyes.

So if I want to stick to IDVD, then there is no way to avoid this conversion to MPEG-2, which causes the quality loss, am I right?
The dvd menu by IDVD is quite amazing to me.

By the way, do you guys have any problem when exporting, even importing at times, to a USB connected hard drive? If so, am I correct to say that it is it due to the "slow" speed of the USB?
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yan03

 
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to Xstep,

Now that I realise...
I was born in 88. lol... And I am now studying in Western Australia too. lol... what a co-incidence.

Sorry for unrelated post to the topic..
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Nethfel

 
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yan03: merging *may* cause quality loss if it goes from one codec to another (or if quicktime handles it funky) - since I don't know your process exactly, I can't say if it does or doesn't. Either way - it's best to keep the exports, imports, exports to a minimum. As you can do your multiple separate projects then merge without doing an export within iMovie that honestly is your best option for future projects especially if working solo.

In terms of the iDVD creation - you wouldn't have a choice no matter what software you used to author DVDs. Mpeg-2 is the standard format for video on DVDs (well, you could use Mpeg-1 but why would you want to? ) - If you want to understand more about the file formats/conversions for DVD necessary, read more about DVD video here: DVD-Video - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - yes, the DVD menu from iDVD is quite beautiful, but you'll find that iDVD is limiting in certain ways. Custom menus manually designed outside of their prebuilt templates are a bit of a pain, you're limited on manipulating the compression ratios on video files, and theres more, but it's not worth going into at this point. If you want custom menus (not near as beautiful as iDVD, but it's a different type of authoring program - more capable in some areas, less in others), and you want adjustable compression, especially if having more then one video on your DVD but don't want to break the bank on FCS, look at moviegate - it's not perfect, but it does provide a secondary option (in terms of a program specifically designed for DVD authoring, it's one of the few programs available to Mac users that I've found)

I don't have a problem exporting or importing to a USB drive, it can be slow and take a lot of time, but I don't have a problem with it (I exported a 1920x1080i 1hr video in ProRes 4:2:2 codec (ie: file is huge) to a usb drive... took a few hours).

My Macs: Late 2013 rMBP w/ 750m; Mac mini G4, 1.25 GHz, 512m ram (server); Late 2011 11" MBA, 1.8GHz i7, 4Gig Ram, 256Gig SSD, HD3000; Powerbook 12" G4 1.33GHz running Debian as a server; Apple TV (1080p version)
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xstep

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
So if I want to stick to IDVD, then there is no way to avoid this conversion to MPEG-2, which causes the quality loss, am I right?
...
By the way, do you guys have any problem when exporting, even importing at times, to a USB connected hard drive? If so, am I correct to say that it is it due to the "slow" speed of the USB?
As Nethfel stated the conversion to MPEG2 is needed as that is the (better) standard for DVD video discs. You can control quality somewhat by choosing one of three selections in the Project Info window. Search for the word encoding in iDVDs search help box and click on 'Setting the encoding quality of a DVD' to understand them.

I can't see anywhere in this thread where you have said the format details of what you are supplying iDVD. What are the codec, data rate and size details? You did say the quality looked pretty good. What model mac do you have that doesn't have a DVD writer?

What you may find is that the DVD result would look better when displayed on a TV. Also, only display the DVD image on your computer in its native size to make any judgements. Blowing it up full screen will make it look terrible in comparison.


I'm a firewire drive user so can't speak to USB problems directly. I've seen some people say they actually have problems when using USB drives for video editing. I haven't seen the reason(s) posted, but I would imagine that some kind of timeout is occurring for them in the communication between the drive and the OS.




Quote:
Originally Posted by yan03 View Post
Now that I realise...
I was born in 88. lol... And I am now studying in Western Australia too. lol... what a co-incidence.
88 was the year I had my first job as a programmer.

I have visited much of Australia including Western Australia in 2005 (bottom link). Nice place.

CameraTime - Time lapse photography for novice and advanced users.

When asking questions, post the version of your software. You'll receive better answers.

Please post your results to the thread as it is good feedback.
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nice tutorial , i hovered around for the details in past , find it here ,
i am a total new bee , this illustrative tutorial will help me a lot ,
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