High Definition -
When I first saw that 3
of the 9 choices for publishing a movie in Vista were high definition
(HD) profiles, I perked up... and when looking closer at
the pre-beta 5308 build
last week, one of
options further caught my eye... Windows Media HD 1080 - VC-1
(228 Kbps). What's that?
Part of my interest
was from not knowing enough about it. I
had studied the properties of the 720p and 1080i videos on WMV-HD
discs, and made profiles to emulate them, but I hadn't seen any labeled as
VC-1. Maybe they are VC-1 and I didn't know it.
What's the HD 1080 VC-1
option, and how does it differ from the HD 1080? is the bitrate
noted in the drop-down list of 228 Kbps really so?
For the High Definition
choices, 720 stands for 720 horizontal lines of resolution and 1080 for
that many lines. On a computer monitor, think of them as the pixel height
by whatever number of pixels wide. The i or p after the number means
'interlaced' or 'progressive'...
Remember my mentioning last
week that my laptop XP system needed to get a codec to use a
movie rendered with Vista? I had noted the name of the codec
package as it downloaded and
installed... wvc1dmp.CAB... it turns out it
was the VC-1 file that needed the codec.
About the bitrate of 228
Kbps; I submitted a bug report as I'm sure it's a typo. They might
mean 2,280 Kbps or 2.28 Mbps.
VC-1 is a video codec specification that is currently being
standardized by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)
and implemented by Microsoft as Windows Media Video (WMV) 9 Advanced
Here's a website to check your
computer to see if it can play high definition files... WMV
... use the bottom link "See If Your PC Can Play
WMV HD" and drill down a bit... if you opt for T2 Judgment Day - a 1080i
video, and check your system... you can compare your results to my
Once you know what to
expect, you're ready to download and play this 1080 Photo Story that I
made to align Photo Story 3 and Movie Maker 2 with the 1080 VC-1
profile of Movie Maker in Vista.
... before getting into it
further, here are a
Movie Maker in Vista
is version 6.0.5308.17 per the Help > About window.
I did some more checking of
the Vista DVD Maker and am really impressed with the built-in
styles, motion menus and automatic chapter points... lots of great eye candy,
and I haven't burned a bad disc yet. Yes, there are some issues with the
user interface, but it holds lots of promise.
That cool Roll-O-Dex
feature of build 5270 seems to have been dropped... I haven't found it in
the 5308 build.
And on the other side, I went back into Roxio's MyDVD
to look some more at its DVD authoring features.. and found
myself exploring its movie-making option, as shown in the working
window at the right.
Maybe Sonic (Roxio) and
Microsoft did some technology info swapping... I'm checking Vista to making DVDs
and MyDVD 8 to edit movies!!!!
The world keeps turning,
and we have more and more choices as it does.
I did a system
restore the other day, going back about 5 weeks to check something, and
when I undid the restore to come back to now I found my collection database was
Be sure to save a copy of the
database before doing a restore. Lately I've been running with a pretty clean
slate of collections, so I didn't miss it.
to the main topic...
The 3 HD Choices in
Before digging into the VC-1 option,
here's some info about the 3 HD choices in Vista. The info comes from
WMP 10 when viewing sample files, not the same Big Ben
sample story that's coming up. The bit rate figures are the totals of
audio and video.
with widescreen displayed
Let's go into the VC-1
the VC-1 Profile in
Vista's Movie Maker
Here's another extract from the
Microsoft website about VC-1:
"... VC-1 decodes HD video twice as fast as
the H.264 standard, while offering 2-to-3 times better compression than
VC-1 offers superior quality across a wide
variety of content types and bit rates..."
It goes on to say there are
Simple and Advanced VC-1 profiles of various bit rates with different
settings. The pixel dimension sizes range from 176x144 to
2048x1536. You wouldn't call a video of 176x144 pixels high
definition, so VC-1 is more another codec type than it is something only
associated with high definition.
Just as with MM2 in XP, I don't see stand-alone profiles for the
choices in Vista, so I'll study it like I did the WMV-HD discs, looking at
the movie files that Vista produces when using the option.
The file's properties are shown
by importing it into Movie Maker 2.1 and playing it in Windows Media Player
The image at the left is the info from Movie Maker.... the video size,
bit rate, frame rate, and audio properties.
The image at the right
from WMP10 adds some codec info... a VC-1 file is compressed
by the WMV 9 Advanced Profile codec.
The Simple VC-1 profiles
are implemented by the WMV 9 Video codec, and the Advanced profiles by
the WMV 9 Advanced Profile.
When selecting the VC-1
option in Vista, the Movie Maker setting of standard 4:3 aspect ratio or
widescreen 16:9 doesn't make a difference to the saved movie... it makes it as
standard 4:3 at 1440x1080 pixels.
To make custom profiles
that align with this VC-1 file, let's start with a Photo Story and a high
resolution image. I'll use an 11 megapixel picture of Big Ben from a
monthly magazine disc.
Photo Story 3
Although the Video
9 Advanced Profile is an option when using the profile editor,
you can't use it for a story.... PS3 stories can only be
rendered with the Image v2
properties of the sample video file from Vista gives us enough info to
make this custom profile for Photo Story 3.
Using the Windows Media Profile Editor:
Quality VBR - Windows Media Audio 9.1 for the audio,
and Quality VBR - Windows Media Video 9 Image v2 for the video.
You can use different options for audio but the video
compression requires the Video 9 Image v2 codec.
Quality-based tab (see the figure
VBR Quality 98, 48 kHz, stereo VBR for the audio.
Others would work also.
The video size of 1440x1080 and the frame rate
of 29.97 aligns with the properties of the file rendered by
I checked key frame intervals from 1
to 15 seconds and settled at 15. With a story limited to panning and
zooming in a linear manner, it means the full frames are at 15
second increments, with the frames between them being calculated on the
fly. More frequent key frames might be easier on the computer, but with a
larger file size... it's a tradeoff that I haven't studied in any
If the picture has a duration of less than 15 seconds,
it'll use the lesser duration, so I'm not sure this setting makes much
This is an interesting setting that I haven't explored
much... you would think that the highest number of 100 is the best in all
cases... maybe not. If 100 is always best, why is the VBR Quality of 98 for
the audio setting the highest number you can pick? Maybe the extra file size to
go to 100 doesn't make a difference? But I'll start with it for the
The Video quality setting in the profile can
be from 0 to 100. I'll be exploring this setting in more depth in next
week's newsletter. To help assess the quality of the story and the movies of MM2
and Vista, I did this exercise:
- added my URL to the minute hand of the Big Ben clock, a high
quality 11 megapixel image
- used the picture in a Photo Story that zooms into
that area to see how the URL was hanging in their with different
- rendered the story to the 1440x1080 custom
profile that emulates the VC-1 file settings... but changed the Quality
setting to get a set of test stories that range from 0 to 100... the full
set will be used next week.
- used Movie
Maker to take snapshots from the last frame of each story
the section of the minute hand with my URL on it
- compared results
Here's a cropped segment from the annotated original
image before it was imported into Photo Story 3... a 33 MB
Here's the cropped segment from the last
frame of the story, with a quality setting of 100... about the same as the
original image.... a 9.6 MB story file.
The story was then used as a source file in
Vista's Movie Maker, and rendered using the 1080 VC-1 option. The
movie file was 62.1 MB, with a total bit rate of 18.8 Mbps. Here's the
same crop from the last frame of the 1080 VC-1 movie.
It maintains the quality well...
That leaves us only to make a custom profile for Movie Maker 2, and see
how well its quality compares.
Movie Maker 2 Custom
Have a great week...