What's a good intermediate format for rendering?

Frank Z wrote on 11/27/2007, 1:14 PM
I'm trying to take advantage of network rendering and I'm wondering what a good intermediate format would be. I'm outputting to standard definition DVD. The sources are a mixture of DV and Hi8 so I don't need full hi def.

Currently I'm doing Sony AVC because it seems pretty fast. I was looking at YUV and another one (can't remember which and can't check because I'm currently rendering) to retain quality but is that really necessary?

Just wondering what the suggestions are.


JohnnyRoy wrote on 11/27/2007, 1:37 PM
The regular Vegas DV codec is exceptional and you can re-render to it up to 25 times without any noticeable degradation in quality. Just use DV AVI.

DJPadre wrote on 11/27/2007, 2:26 PM
Sorry JohnnyRoy, but i have to disagree with you there. I found DV AVI degrades considerably after 2 to 3 encodes, with image sharpness taking a hard hit more than anything. Colour is still pristine, but sharpness on multiple rendered clips does cop a beating.
I have found that Huffy YUV is much faster than Sony YUV when rendering and offers the same colour and sharpness, Both of these codecs are using 422 at a higher bitrate than 25mbps so theyre inheranbtly better codecs to use for prerender or intermaedites IMO
Chienworks wrote on 11/27/2007, 2:47 PM
The problem with DV is the initial conversion to 4:1:1 colorspace. SONY's codec does this very very well, but it is a noticeable degradation. After the image is converted to DV then subsequent renders introduce very little additional degradation. The next 99 generations have less effect than the very first one, at least if you use SONY's codec

Now, if the original material is DV then the camera already did the first 4:1:1 conversion, so that step is already past. Using DV from there on out should be fine..
Laurence wrote on 11/28/2007, 2:19 PM
Sometimes knowing which DV codec you are using can be confusing. As a general rule, if you are rendering from Vegas, you are using the excellent Sony DV codec. If you are rendering from any other program you are not.

If you are rendering from VirtualDub or some other free or low cost program and you haven't spent money on an external codec like the Main Concept one, you are probably rendering with the horrible Microsoft Windows DV codec. The Sony codec looks great even after multiple generations. The Microsoft one looks horrible after three or four generations.

Another option is to use the Cineform codec at SD resolution. This looks better in that it has the same colorspace as HD and thus can give you more vivid color on footage that was shot in HDV and downrezzed to SD resolution. This extra colorspace will make it to your final DVD since the mpeg DVD has better colorspace than any DV codec.
John_Cline wrote on 11/28/2007, 2:55 PM
I typically use either HuffYUV or the Lagarith "lossless" codecs. If I need to save some space, but still want to maintain 4:2:2 quality (albeit lossy), I'll use the PicVideo MJPEG codec. At its quality setting of "19", it compresses quite well compared to lossless HuffYUV or Lagarith and still maintains a very high quality image. Motion JPEG is actually a very versatile codec and, in my opinion, it doesn't get the respect it deserves. It's really fast, too.
craftech wrote on 11/28/2007, 4:02 PM
Ditto on Huffy. Haven't tried Lagarith or the others. Will give those a shot.

Thanks John.


Laurence wrote on 11/28/2007, 8:04 PM
I bought the PicVideo MJPEG codec on John's recommendation some time ago and must say that I really love it. For only $28 it is simply a no brainer. It is just so versatile. At the highest quality it looks like uncompressed. It is very fast and CPU efficient. It can be any size. It is easily read by various encoders such as Quicktime, DivX and On2.

One thing I use it for regularly now is Gearshift proxies. At 640x360 and medium quality, the proxies are exactly the right size to preview without scaling on my laptop. They are so CPU efficient that I can do color correction and transitions without dropping frames on my P4 2.8. The colorspace is a better match than DV codec so color correction on proxies vs HDV clips is a good match. The files are so small that they take up little extra hard disc space and work well from a moderate speed laptop drive. Editing AVCHD this way is a piece of cake.

I use the mjpeg codec for 960x540 single field 29.97 masters for generating flash video encodes from On2 Flix.

I use the mjpeg codec with Bluff Titler. I generate 1440x810x 29.97 versions of my Bluff Titler text animations. These fit into HDV projects beautifully and look absolutely wonderful rendered into HDV projects played back on my home theater setup.

The PicVideo codec is one of those things that you don't think you need until you have it. After that it would be hard to work without it.
John_Cline wrote on 11/28/2007, 8:19 PM
HuffYUV is free and can be downloaded here:
(This is the link to v2.1.1, there is a version 2.2.0 but I found it to be too buggy to use.)

Lagarith is free and can be downloaded here:

Another very interesting free codec is the "MSU Lossless" available here:

The Pegasus Imaging "PicVideo MJPEG v3" codec can be purchased (for as little as $28) and downloaded here:

craftech wrote on 11/29/2007, 5:29 AM

Thanks again John.

Seth wrote on 11/30/2007, 2:39 PM
Morgan MJPEG2000 has been getting a lot of good press these days as well. It sells for $35.
John_Cline wrote on 11/30/2007, 4:25 PM
I've been considering playing with the Morgan MJPEG2000 codec. JPEG2000 is a wavelet-based compression scheme much like Cineform. I suspect that it won't be nearly as fast to encode and decode as standard MJPEG, but I guess I won't know for sure until I try it out...

vitalforce wrote on 11/30/2007, 4:42 PM
How do the above compare to the Apple Intermediate codec?