PapaJohn's Newsletter #41 - Feb 19, 2005
Maker 2 and Photo Story
with the Highest Quality on New Home Widescreen HD TVís
Last week's issue about pixels struck a chord with Carol
Brennan, a regular reader. She sent an email almost as long as my
newsletters, and I'm sure her situation is shared by many.
With her permission I'm using her comments as the
basis for this week's newsletter. Here are her
This newsletter helped
explain a lot to me. Last weekend I took all 39 PapaJohn newsletters & your
ďDo Amazing ThingsĒ book & spread them out in the living room trying to
figure out the best way to make my DVDs. My goal is to make the clearest DVD for
viewing on my widescreen HD TV. Sounds simple, but it gets very confusing
once you start combining
digital video (shot in
widescreen by my Sony video camera)
Analog video shot in
4:3 with my old video camera
Digital pictures shot
by my Canon powershot A80
then try to put them
all together using
movie creator (it came with my Dell computer in 2003)
Working full time &
managing a household, I donít have time to experiment with all the codecs, etc.
I just follow your advice at the conclusion of the newsletters, but sometimes it
is confusing. My problems are
the best way to size
pictures in both Photostory2 and PS3 to use as stand-alone stories in my
the best way to size
pictures in both Photostory2 and PS3 to use as source files in MM2
my friends say that they look fat in my DVDs! Iíve been saving the
pictures in the custom widescreen formats you made, but maybe that is incorrect
for DVD use) Maybe it makes a difference whether I use the stories as source
files or not.
noticed while making home movies for the past year:
The best quality
slide shows are made by My DVD6 by directly importing the pictures into MY
DVD. However I cannot pan & zoom the pictures if I use this
Picture shows made
with Photo Story 2 seem to be much clearer than picture shows with PS3 once
they are burned to a DVD.
Verbatim DVD+R DVDs
produce the best quality DVDís for me.
I know that MyDVD
suggests saving MM2 movies as AVIís so that they are more
case, it is very confusing for the novice. My guess is that most people making
home movies want to play them as
with the highest quality on their new home Widescreen HD
TVís that have become so
popular. With that in mind, can you just summarize and tell us
use this pixel size
pictures for PS2Ö..
use this pixel size
pictures for PS3Ö.
Save PS2 using this
custom codec (codec means profile in this
Save PS3 using this
custom codec (profile)
Save MM2 using this
custom codec. (profile)
when I start reading all the background for your decisions, I get very
confused. I just want you to tell me ďuse this method to get the best
resultsĒ (I really donít need to know the engineering behind
the long note, but it just shows how confused I am. I have learned so much from
you for the past year and I really appreciate everything you try to teach
... before responding, a number
Patrick Leabo, the programmer of Transition Maker
2, is also its most avid user. He's been tweaking it for many months
now, since he released version 1. Today he rolled out version
2, the one you'll get if you download it now.
It's easier than ever to select any starting image,
any ending image (a couple condor pix my brother just sent), develop a custom
transition, preview the results, use it in Movie Maker, and WOW
your audience (for this one, my brother).
I'll be updating the online tutorial, but Patrick has a full one
already packaged with the app. The new version goes into its own folder so both
versions can co-exist. The new version is free to registered users.
I had the kick-off class for a handful of staff members at my
local library (Portage, Michigan) on Monday. It went well. but
plugging my laptop into their high quality projection system and watching Movie
Maker doing its thing on the big screen... showed that previewing clips
in collections and the project timeline were fine, but you couldn't
see the saved movie playing back in WMP... you could see it on my laptop but not
on the projection system.
I checked with others and found that turning my hardware
acceleration down to the 3rd notch is what's needed... seems the graphics card
outputting to the external monitor doesn't handle the video overlay.
Sonic released a DVD plug-in for
Photo Story 3 on Thursday, to support the direct burning of a DVD as
one of the options when using the saving wizard. The timing fit right into
this week's topic... so I purchased it yesterday and gave it a test... it's not
yet my recommendation. Here's why:
It did a good job doing what it did... PS3 saved a story using a
720x480 profile from Sonic, and then the plug-in transcoded the WMV file to
MPEG-2 files for the disc, and burned the DVD.
Personally I wouldn't have purchased it if I had known:
1 - you can only burn one story on a disc.. to add more to the
disc you need to use your regular DVD software
2 - my regular DVD software is Sonic's MyDVD 4.5... and that
version can't open and modify the DVD... it's not new enough... so I can't add
to the disc, fix the spelling mistake I made in the title, change the Sonic
graphic on the disc to one of my own, etc. Carol can probably do it with her
3 - my personal custom DVD profile for the rendered story results in
a better quality story than that produced by the plug-in. I compared
the results of both and they fully align except my video bitrate is
If I have to purchase a new DVD software app to add to or modify the disc,
I'd have been better off applying the $20 that I paid for the plug-in
toward the purchase of the new software.
The plug-in might still be the right tool if the MPEG-2 files made by it
are of better quality than those made by other software (such as the newer
versions of Sonic DVD software)... but I'd been told not to expect
better quality from the plug-in. I'd expect the rendering codec to
be the same one Sonic uses in its other software, and the quality
would be the same.
I received my first request week from someone who
purchased one of the new Sony camcorders that shoots in true
high definition. He was asking how to get the footage into
Movie Maker. I checked the camcorder specs and see it records in an
MPEG-2 format... he'll be sending a short sample clip so I can do some
I also got an email offering condolences about my crashed
up Corvette... he saw a video in the PapaJohn Gallery at nepture
and assumed it was me and my Vette. The gallery has my name, but
anyone can submit a video for inclusion in it... neptune does the screening and
selection. It's a reasonable assumption that they are my videos, but it's
not the case.
I had just looked at that video last night, so at least I wasn't
confused by the condolence message.
Start with the
with the highest quality for new home Widescreen HD
I'm going to keep the early sections as short as I can, and get
into Carol's questions. But I have to reflect on her goal a little and work
backwards a couple steps.
I wondered how big her widescreen TV is. To help. The latest
issue of 'The Perfect Vision', Home Theater News and Reviews,
has info about pixels on almost every page. Here's a sampling:
... new Sony KDE-42XS955 plasma... resolution of
1024x1024... its interlaced 720p images might
be first down-converted to 512 rather than upconverted to
1024... all plasma panels overdisplay, cutting off around 5% of the
image, so vertically 1024 of the of the 1080-line input signal will be shown
line for line. Horizontally the plasma scales 1824 (95% of 1920) to 1024. For
1280x720p signals and standard definition content, the panel scales to
1024x1024 - the panel's native resolution...
Ads and reviews show a 60" LCD with a native resolution of
1280x720, 1920x1080p on new 50+ inch
Toshiba SED (Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display) screens, and a 40"
LCD with 16:9 that uses 1366x768
A table of recommended products showed pixel counts ranging from
1024x768 to 1920x1080.
Reviewers talked about seeing high-definition video and also
about watching DVDs. They mean the professionally produced discs, not
our home-burned DVDs.
One factor is our self-calibration... as we step
up to newer higher quality levels, there's the initial WOW effect. But
as that wears off and the higher quality becomes the normal, then the
previous high quality (read this as commercial DVDs) just isn't good
I don't try to keep up with the leading edges of hardware and
software rollouts... we have friends with up to 14 megapixel cameras,
but our latest 5 megapixel one makes our previous 3 megapixel a
loaner, and relegates the 1 megapixel to the closet with other unused
items. My wife works mostly with still images in PhotoShop, and today
anything less than a 5 megapixel picture isn't sufficient.. her calibration
has changed significantly over a few years.
Maybe today's commercial DVDs are still good enough in
quality for Carol's new TV, but the home made DVDs are not as high in
quality as commercial ones. Paying tens of thousands of dollars or more for
an MPEG-2 encoder results in discs that outshine any that we
can make with low-end video and DVD software and hardware.
The quest then isn't to match the newer high definition videos in
quality, but to make discs as good as we can.
If those HighMAT DVD players that played higher quality WMV files
had emerged over the past couple years, we might have a different bottom line...
ones matching at least the 1280x720 videos, if not the upper end 1920x1080 ones.
But they didn't make it, so a high quality standard disc (DVD) is
today's practical goal... unless Carol can plug her computer into her
system and bypass the discs entirely, playing the higher quality
material on her computer and watching it on the big TV. See newsletter #1 for
discussion about high definition videos, and the website > Saving
Movies > Custom WMV Profiles page for a downloadable high definition
widescreen 1280x720 profile.
The practical bottle-neck in quality is the DVD
process... DVD files must meet the MPEG-2 standard
of... 720x480 pixels (720x576 PAL) for both
normal 4:3 aspect ratio and 16:9 widescreen. When viewing at the
normal 4:3 aspect ratio, the pixels are squeezed in,
and stretched sideways when viewing as widescreen.
Using Movie Maker to take a snapshot of a frame of
a DVD quality video gets a JPG of about 1/3 of a megapixel, a
fixed number that seems lower and lower as time goes by.
Now to summarize answers to her 5 points, all
assuming the goal is to save as a 720x480 DV-AVI file for a DVD. I'll
be brief here and follow it with other comments:
1 - Use these pixel dimensions for
Photo Story 2
Standard 4:3 aspect ratio stories - minimum size
of 1066x800 pixels
Widescreen 16:9 stories - minimum size of 1706x960 pixels.
2 - Use these pixel dimensions for
Photo Story 3 - this is the hardest one to answer
With the panning and zooming you can do in PS3...
use as many pixels as you need so the tightly zoomed into
area has 640x480 pixels, but don't use more than you need. The
dynamics are such that the right answer differs for each picture.
See the motion setting for this picture in a story. The scanned
image is 527x2515... the starting position for the PS3 motion is a
full window with black borders, making the first image in Photo
Story 3353x2515 pixels (about 8 megapixels)... the ending
position is a zoomed in area of 520x390 pixels, a bit below my
desired 640x480, but not enough beneath it for me to go back and rescan
it at a higher resolution (I don't have Carol's TV... maybe I'd rescan if I
did). Note that if I didn't zoom at all, the imported image would be
overkill as the 2515 pixel height is more than 5 times as many as I'd
need for a DVD.
Standard 4:3 aspect ratio stories - for most pictures
with moderate panning and zooming, those from a 4 or 5 megapixel camera should
work fine without cropping or resizing.
Widescreen 16:9 stories - Resize your source pictures before
importing... multiply their width in pixels by 0.75117 and leave the height as
is. They have to look skinny during the project work because the rendering
will fatten them back up so they look just right.
3 - Save PS2 stories using:
For standard 4:3 aspect ratio stories - the 800x600
custom profile from Microsoft.
For widescreen stories - the custom 852x480 profile from the
Learn More > Advanced Topics page of my
4 - Save PS3 stories using:
For standard 4:3 - my custom DVD Profile from
the 'Heading Toward a Disc' page of the PS3 section of the website.
For widescreen stories - the custom 852x480 profile from the
same page of the site.
5 - Save MM2
The DV-AVI profile for either 4:3 or widescreen movies and let
MyDVD convert them to MPEG-2.
If you ever get the time to test the sideroad through
TMPGEnc, render the same movie twice... once going directly through
MyDVD and the other rendering the MPEG-2 file using TMPGEnc. Compare the
two on the same disc and see if the direct route or the sideroad is right for
Some Additional Notes:
These numbers correspond to the above.
1 - PS2 pictures -
there's a table of minimum pixel sizes on the Gather Pictures > Intro page of
my PS2 website. Use them to avoid black borders when panning and
2 - PS3
pictures - PS3 can zoom into a picture so far that you need
to consider the size of the zoomed area as the most important... the motion
wizard shows the number of pixels being used for the starting and ending
positions in the picture. Size the source picture so the tightest zoom
aligns with the size of a DVD - 640x480 on computer monitors. I
elaborated on this point above, but I'll add some info about a real
Arithmetic is my latest
PS3 story, made from some scanned pictures... it's a story intended
for DVD quality playback, and I used it to test the new Sonic DVD plug-in.
I scan at high pixel sizes and then reduce the
images appropriately for the stories or movies...
Here are the sizes of the pictures I used in this story;
as you can see I resized each to align with its use in the story...
panned and zoomed pix get more pixels than those that just sit in one
Two cover pictures - 800x638 (no zooming) - the odd
numbers don't mean anything... I resize with IrfanView, choosing critical
dimension and maintaining the aspect ratio.
Spine - zoomed tightly into the book's name - 527x2515 (this picture is well
Title page (the one shown in PS3 at the right)... panned
from top to bottom and then zoomed in... 2 copies of the picture, both at
Table of Contents page 1 -
some panning/zooming - 800x649 (I wondered why this picture is fuzzier
than the others in the playing... now I see why... I should have used more
pixels - I guess I hadn't planned to zoom but changed my mind as I put the
Page 2 of the Table of Contents - and intro
paragraph - zooming/panning - 3207x2643
Double page - zooming/panning the section
about Reduction of Coins - 3270x2643
Double page - zooming into the section about the Rule of
Three - 3255x2553
Double page - zooming into the section
about Tare and Tret - 3286x2643
A widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio story can be done using a
custom profile when saving it. Resize your source pictures before importing...
multiply their width in pixels by .75117. Leave the height as is. They'll look
kind of squeezed as you work on them in PS3, because you can only work in the
standard 4:3 view... but the saved story will look fine.
- PS2 render - With the success of the custom
profiles for PS3 when heading toward DVDs, I may revisit the custom
profiles for PS2. Until then the best profiles for computer viewing should be
used when making DVDs.
4 - PS3 render -
I've received nothing but very positive comments from those who have
compared results with those of other options. And my comparing it to the profile
used by the new Sonic plug-in leaves it still the best option.
5 - MM2 render -
DV-AVI with either the Standard 4:3 or Widescreen 16:9 option selected.
Thanks Carol for the interesting challenge... I hope
it's more than just another issue to add to your growing living room
As we move from DVD quality to high definition, the right
answers will change as new software and hardware rolls out.
Movie Maker isn't limited to DVD quality video, but the profiles
it uses are limited to 2 channel stereo audio. And working with higher
quality requires a computer with higher horsepower and more disk
Have a great week...