View Full Version : Output formats, Codecs and DVD

04-24-2004, 06:28 AM

I want to put my animations on DVD. Currently, I render out of LW3D into AVI files (using MPEG-2 compression) at 640 x 480. The results are great. Then I edit and post-process with Adobe Premiere into AVI (same codec ) and the output is fine. If I then author to DVD using this AVI file as input, the resulting colors are all washed out.

So - what am I doing wrong ? In fact, what is the best resolution, codec to use to output to standard DVD. Should I render to single frames ? It seems a shame as I have a great version in AVI format and just want to drop this on to DVD ?

Also related, as I am using MPEG-2 codec, some machines can't play back the AVI file without additional (purchased) software. What is the best codec then ( and output format for that matter ) for ensuring a common format that people can play without trouble, across multiple platforms.

In fact, the whole codec, best file format to output, post-production thing is driving me crazy. Getting a handle on the cmplexities of Lightwave, but getting the finished result to the end consumer is a nightmare. Any recommendations re: books, tutorials, URLs would be gratefully receeved. Also - is Premiere the right tool - should I be looking at NewTek products ?

Any advice/guidance would be most welcome !


Joe Hyde

04-24-2004, 08:15 AM
I'm a newbie to this too, so will be interested in any replies to your post.

All I can say, with regards to your questions, is that it sounds like you are running your file through at least three different codecs during your authoring. Every time you compress/decompress you are losing or changing information in your source file which ultimately is going to have an impact on the quality.

MPEG-2 is a lossy compression format so you are throwing away fine resolution data at each stage.

Might be better to perform your post work in an uncompressed format and only compress to MPEG-2 when you are ready to author to DVD.

I know a lot of people work in TMPEG (available as a free download demo version - do a google search!) but finding decent MPEG-2 Codecs does seem to be a tricky problem - I find it particularly unfortunate that they all seem to work as standalone programs, meaning that there is nothing which can integrate into the Newtek VT platform (unless this has been addressed in VT3?).

Anybody out there know what they're talking about? (Because I sure as hell don't!)

Kind Regards

04-24-2004, 08:20 AM
Also, 640x480 seems a little on the low side for DVD.

Maximum pixel resolution on DVD is 720x480 (for 525/60 NTSC display) or 720x576 (for 625/50 PAL/SECAM display).

Kind Regards

04-24-2004, 12:42 PM
AVI (sorenson) seems to work on every computer

I can pick it up in Windows, Quicktime, Real (which are the major codecs out there).

Go 720X480

Going to DVD..I go RTV > TMpeg > DVD
Using VT2,

Premier ? dunno if it will import RTV, tho I think Bob has a plugin to do it.

To watch for...

Render frame to a TV monitor to check colors (TV and computers are different animals) (if going to DVD)

Last filter to put on is Video Legalize (in a tab on the background menu window) (Pixel shader?) forgot what tab is called right now.

04-24-2004, 05:22 PM
First rule: dont compress twice^^

04-25-2004, 03:57 AM
Hey guys, this question has been asked several times already and answered just as often (with some input coming from me) so I suggest you use the search function to undig those threads in this forum.

lwjoehyde, I seriously doubt that you can output any MPEG-II CoDec from LW especially at the resolution you specify. There are some MPEG-II (I-Frame only) CoDecs tied to hardware such as Matrox DigiSuite or Pinnacle Studio, but they require proper video resolution. However, from within LW they mostly do not work since they are not really AVI-CoDecs (more AVI containers that have a different internal structure) or use other technical specs (YUV colorspace for instance). To some degree that also is the reason you are experiencing color shifting and desaturation. You really should try to learn something about this theoretical video related stuff first.

As for books: The best you can get (even after all these years) is "DVD demystified", but it's rather technical and far too complex for a standard plug & go autoplay DVD.


05-11-2004, 11:16 AM
Thanx to those who responded.

Don't compress twice seems like a Golden Rule I should be adhering to - I guess that means going back to source and re-rendering from scratch !!

Apologies to Mylenium for not searching archives first (newbie-disease) - but it's true - MPEG2 at 640x480 (using Microsoft MPEG2 codec) - looks fine, which is why its such a shame to have to back to square 1 just to put it on DVD !

Ho hum.

I'll be back.


05-11-2004, 12:43 PM
here (http://www.creativepro.com/story/feature/16414-2.html) you can read about that stuff^^

05-20-2004, 02:11 PM
Originally posted by lwjoehyde
...MPEG2 at 640x480 (using Microsoft MPEG2 codec) - looks fine, which is why its such a shame to have to back to square 1 just to put it on DVD ! You should definitely render at 720X480 if you are going to DVD. Anything else will require your encoder to stretch, shrink, or crop you animations. NTSC DVD (4:3) is always 720X480.

05-22-2004, 11:29 AM

looks like Joe's a fellow UK waver, so 720x576 is more the ticket (unless producing DVD's for the US market).

On a related note, are there any lossless codecs that come recomended. That way we can have all the crisp video goodness of uncompressed files but without needing to upgrade to a bigger HD quite yet ;)


05-22-2004, 02:39 PM
Here's a good one - it's 100$ US


64 bit lossless and tiny - try the demo

you could also use photo-jpeg, it's not lossless, but 'artifactless' - the first encoding loses a tiny bit of sharpness and there's a very slight color change, the darks get a little darker, but the 10th encoding (I've tried it) is almost indistiguishable from the first. Photo-jpeg files (set to max quality) are one-half to one-third the size of Animation encoded files

05-22-2004, 03:20 PM

As said before I agree on stating not using any compression until just before authorizing to (MPEG2) DVD.
( so not using any lossy codec - regardless the actual file format. AVI, MOV .... have nothing to do with the actual codec your using, there merely data containers )

So because no one is saying something about what using instead ..

I'm aware of 2 lossles Codecs huffyuv , and another wich name slips my mind right know ( it's based on PNG lossless compression ), doesn't matter huffyuv is great & FREE !!!! for download ( compresses about half the size of RAW )( hope your on PC ? ) ( BTW the DV format isn't lossless neither in case people tell you that )

I'm using huffyuv every time. If I have to batch process my sequences before .... I'm just rendering seperate frames ( BMP/TGA ) & sequence them with the small tool pjBmp2Avi.exe ( free and only 51kB ) ( it can be buggy but doesn't crash your computer )

05-22-2004, 07:53 PM
I just render to TGA image sequences, then edit those in premiere, add sound, and export from premiere in mpeg 2 dvd to burn. Only one compression and works great.

05-23-2004, 02:55 PM
Forget what I said about Photo-jpeg, JPEG 2000 is completely lossless, half the size of Animation files - but no alpha of course, and playback suffers.

05-28-2004, 12:49 PM
Thanks again to all who contirbuted to this thread. I have a
learned a few things. And I have learned there are more
things I still have to learn.

For example :

1. I've now decided to do my projects in a PAL compatible resolution ( and Lightwave even lets me select PAL compatible resolution - doh - not sure about D1 vs D2 though ?).

2. Also - only compress once !! So, not sure now whether to save my scenes as, eg avi with Animation codec (no compression) or single frames ( and then what format ? )).

3. And - big apoloiges to Mylenium !! It wasn't an MPEG-2 codec after all, it was Microsoft's MPEG4 Version 2 !! AV doesn't play on a Mac G4 though !! Aarhg - the maze is getting deeper !!!

05-28-2004, 02:56 PM
Well, proper specs for a PAL DVD are as follows:

- 720x576 pixels (D1)
- fields with upper field first
- average data rate not higher than 8.3 Mbit/s
- Audio at 48 kHz

I'd always render still frames - if you render to an animation directly and your machine crashes, you may end up with a useless file. There are enough tools out there that can create AVIs from image sequences. Also the standard AVI CoDecs cannot hold Alpha information, timecodes etc. (but some hardware specific CoDecs do), so you would lose this if you wanted to add something in compositing.


05-28-2004, 03:03 PM
Rendering to frames is the safest way to go, I think most pros use TGA or TIFF, unless you need more than 8 bits per channel.