Really long and vague amateur question

OpChiasm wrote on 11/14/2005, 11:41 AM
I apologize in advance for the stupidity of this question. I am strictly an amateur.

Last year I used Vegas and DVD Architect to make a presentation played at the end-of-season banquet of my daughters' high school field hockey team. The banquet is held at a local tourist attraction and they let us use their "3-D Theater" for the presentation. It has some kind of special screen - the only request they made was that no one go on the stage because they didn't want anyone near the screen.

The presentation was composed of video footage from games, photograph montages, and various other material. Everything looked awesome projected on the huge screen except the video footage and I couldn't quite put my finger on the issue. The video was shot on a 4-year old Sony Digital 8mm camera.

Anyway, I'm working on this year's presentation and would like to improve the quality of the video - it's from the same source. Could it be that it was just projected too large for the quality captured by the camera? In theaters like this, is it usually possible to change the size of the projected image or are they calibrated in some way that precludes easily changing the size? Could it have something to do with the special screen they have? Again, everything other than the video footage looked great.

My contact there is the general manager and I've not had luck hooking up with anyone who has technical knowledge.

Thanks very much.


mcgeedo wrote on 11/14/2005, 11:59 AM
Digital8 is not the greatest. Sure, it is the same format as DV, but D8 cameras have a lot of shortcomings, mainly in just having a single, small CCD. There could also be an issue with how deeply you compressed the video for DVD. What sort of bit rate did you compress to?
busterkeaton wrote on 11/14/2005, 12:15 PM
Was everything else projected off DVD?

You may be able to hook a laptop up to the projector and play the avi to get better resolution.

Also Digital photos of 3, 4, 5 megapixels have so much more resolution than DV. Your footage may have just suffered by comparison.

Did the footage look like the quality of the DVD or much worse?
OpChiasm wrote on 11/14/2005, 12:17 PM
I don't really know the bitrate. I rendered to avi and put those avi's directly into DVDA. I believe I just selected "NTSC DVD" or whatever template sounded like that.

This year, I was going to render to "DVD Architect NTSC" mpg's and use those. Should I do something other than that? The whole project is basically 8 sections, 8 separate veg files. I render each separately and use them as chapters on the DVD.

Thanks a lot!
OpChiasm wrote on 11/14/2005, 12:26 PM
buster, I'm not sure what you mean by "Did the footage look like the quality of the DVD or much worse?"

The video footage on the camera (and on my TV when I played the DVD at home) looked much better than when played in the theater.
busterkeaton wrote on 11/14/2005, 12:32 PM
That's what I was asking, the quality of your footage on DVD vs projected, rather than the quality of your footage vs the other footage.

I think the next variable to look at is: was your footage projected the same way their footage was projected? You need to look at the whole video chain: source, wires, projector. Something in the chain seems to have affected your video.
OpChiasm wrote on 11/14/2005, 12:39 PM
buster ... just to be clear ... all of the "footage" is mine. I made separate "parts" for the presentation, including video footage from games (shot with the crappy Digital8 camera mentioned earlier), digital or scanned photographs in montages, scanned newspaper photos of the team, etc. I rendered each section separately and made them "chapters" on a DVD. I handed the DVD to the manager at the place and they played it in their DVD player through their projector onto this special screen. Everything looked perfect except the actual video shot at games.
stepfour wrote on 11/14/2005, 1:12 PM
Your first post, way back when, said you had about 25 minutes of material for the project. That leaves you lots of room to tweak the bitrate up on your mpeg encode. If the footage at the game involves a lot of camera movement, etc., then you need more bitrate to make it look good.
Guy Bruner wrote on 11/14/2005, 1:25 PM
If you used the Default Template, then you didn't get the best rendering parameters. Default sets video quality at medium versus high and sets the bitrate well below maximum. I recommend selecting the NTSC DVD template or the DVD Architect NTSC Video Stream template. Keep in mind that the DVDA template does not encode the audio so you will have to do that separately or change the template to also encode audio. Also, you might find using the color curves filter and giving the line a lazy S adjustment will punch up drab colors.
riredale wrote on 11/14/2005, 2:52 PM
If done right, the video coming off the DVD should look exactly like the video coming from your camcorder. Play your avi on a TV set (play it in your camcorder and use cables to transfer the image to the TV), and then look at the DVD version. Given a high enough bitrate (~8Mb/sec), the two should look identical.

Of course anything shot in DV will look terrible if blown up big enough. If that's the case, just have them zoom the projector out a bit.
jrazz wrote on 11/14/2005, 3:21 PM
another option would be to shrink the video with a black border around it so that it is not that noticeable and your pictures and other items remain full scale. This way, no one has to manually adjust the projector settings, you can just come prepared with a video that has been scaled down to a smaller size.

j razz
jrazz wrote on 11/14/2005, 3:23 PM
another thought: Scale down the video while having Stills fade in and out as the background instead of using black... this could look neat and intentional or it could be distracting if they are supposed to be paying attention to the video the whole time.

j razz
OpChiasm wrote on 11/15/2005, 3:41 AM
Thanks very much to everyone for some excellent information and suggestions.

I'm going to take a questioning tangent into a new thread.

Thanks again.