Final Cut Express HD Compression Vs iMovie 06 HD Compression

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Elvis Presley, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. Elvis Presley macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    Gday Forum

    iMovie 06 HD compression ratios have slowly but surely been doing my head in. Does anyone know what the best settings are for HD compression on iMovie 06. I will be uploading the videos to YouTube and I don't care about file size, I just care about the videos looking the best they can in HD.

    my current iMovie 06 compression ratio of choice is as follows:
    >movie to quicktime movie
    >compression type H.264
    >frame rate, current
    >key frames, every 24
    >compressor quality, Best
    >Encoding, Best Quality (multi-pass)
    >data rate, automatic
    >Dimension 1280 X 720 HD

    I dont deinterlace, nor preserve aspect ratios

    The video content is HD MP4 files that i import into iMovies 06. these files i've ripped from YouTube using the keep tube downloader programme. they look great when im working on them, but when it comes to exporting/compressing them into HD to upload to youtube, ive been having mixed results and nothing really spectacular.

    My question is three fold.

    A.does anyone know of the definitive compression settings for best/true HD export in a format supported by YouTube in iMovie 06.
    B. Does Final Cut Express offer better HD compression options/format/settings then iMovie 06.
    C. Will videos exported from FCE using HD compression settings look any better then videos exported from iMovie 06 using the same/similar HD compression settings.

    Im aware that youtube compresses all uploaded videos but there are videos Ive ripped off youtube that have brilliant picture quality both on youtube and as downloaded MP4 files. ive then imported these videos into iMovie 06 and they look perfect when im working on them, but when it comes time to exporting them out of iMovie, Im constantly losing picture quality and they don't look half as good as to when I imported them into iMovie 06. Please help me before I put on my blue suede shoes and blue suede the heck out of my macbook pro!

    I know there are a million HD compression settings answers to iMovie 06 on the net and I think Ive read and tried every single one, though they've all let me down as the videos dont look half as good when i've exported them as they did when I imported them. what's the definitive HD compression setting for exporting optimal HD quality video on iMovie 06 or should I buy Final Cut Express for better HD export results?

    Thanks in advance and my first born daughter to the person who can help me out.

  2. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    It's being compressed an absolute minimum of 4 times — it's going to start looking worse for wear.

    How would you describe the picture quality issues you're seeing? Mushy? Blocky? Stuttery? Washed-out?

    As general amendments to your settings above, I'd recommend you change key frame to 'automatic' and set a target data rate of 10,000 Kbps.

    Final Cut Express uses the same compression engine and interface as iMovie, so it won't offer you better quality.
  3. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    Gday keith

    Thanks for your reply mate. I was wondering whether FCE and iMovie share the same compression settings. Thanks a lot for clearing that up. I was on the verge of buying FCE just because I figured it might have better compression results then iMovie 06.

    Generally the videos come out blocky. especially around facial features. Im actually downloading the MP4 files in their original formats sans compression. I find they lose quality when they're imported into iMovies 06. Is this normal? they're HD videos so Ive set iMovies import as HD 720p import.

    I'll definitely give your settings a go and keep you posted as to the results.

    fingers crossed
  4. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007

    Is it blockiness around red tones? When you import the mp4s into iMovie, is it instant or does it take a bit of time? What does it say top, centre of your iMovie window?

    In fact, easiest thing would be to post a screenshot of your iMovie window, where the video looks particularly blocky.
  5. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    I'm not sure what will happen when you import an already deinterlaced video and then export the edited result. I always choose deinterlace. Interlacing is for old television use.

    After you have exported the file file, open it up in QuickTime Player 7 and check the dimensions to make sure your actually got the result you expected.

    Compare your exported video to what you uploaded to youtube after they have converted it to the native size.

    Posting shots of problem frames may help someone identify your issue.

    I have an iMovie export guide and YouTube guide that might be helpful, but frankly beyond the interlacing issue, I can't see any bad settings as you've posted them. My guides are here.
  6. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010

    gday keith

    a 25MB mp4 file takes about a minute to import into the top of my imovies screen it says (HD-720p-30).

    ive attached screen shot of the various stages of work/compression. the first shot is of the pixelisation I referred to when viewing the videos on youtube's HD 720p setting. the second shot is taken while working on the video in imovies.

    thanks again

    Attached Files:

  7. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    gday xstep

    I actually came across your settings a few weeks back and tried them out.
    unfortunately though, the sound settings made my video out of sync with the audio. Actually i'm yet to match my audio with my video as everything I try when compressing my videos in H.264 Quicktime makes the audio and video out of sync. I would really appreciate it if you have any sound settings that would alleviate the audio/video out of sync problem. also your data rate of 1500 I found not to look as good as a data rate of 5000(this comes after weeks of trial and error) and frame rate looks better when set to current as apposed to 15.

    here is a link to the best settings I have used so far Though one major problem, the audio and video become out of sync when using sdmagicmans settings.

    again, anyone have any suggestions to syncing audio with video when compressing?

    thanks for getting back to me xstep. I really appreciate it.

    kind regards

    P.S I don't understand considering just how popular uploading videos to sites has become, why finding the optimal settings in iMovies is still such a head ache! Apple should release a wide range of compressor settings for iMovies. A hell of a lot easier that way, instead of playing the iMovies compression settings guessing game. No one at apple has a clue when I've asked for their advice.
  8. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    That just looks like the hallmarks of recompression to me. You can't avoid it doing what you're doing, but there are ways of minimising its impact on the picture.

    If it's taking that long to import, it means iMovie is recompressing. With some mp4 files you can dodge this (for reasons of speed and quality) by doing as follows:

    • Start a new iMovie project with the appropriate settings. Close it.
    • Control-click the project icon, and click "show package contents".
    • Drag your mp4 files to the "media" folder.
    • Open your iMovie project. You'll get a message saying there are some stray clips in iMovie's trash. Open the trash and drag them to the clips pane.
    • Edit away.
    That's one cycle of recompression avoided, but you will have to recompress when you want to output the file, ready to upload to YouTube. (And then YouTube will recompress it again at their end.) Best bet is to use a high bit rate. You probably won't see any benefits going higher than 10,000Kbps, just longer upload times.

    Sound sync issues are usually related to frame rate. Open the mp4s in Quicktime 7 and hit command-i. What does it say for frame rate?

    A lot's changed since iMovie 06 was released. I think the last two versions have had direct "upload to YouTube" features.

    (For the record, I wouldn't call what's in those pictures "pixelation". "Smearing" or "mushiness" are better. Might seem pedantic, but it's relevant.)
  9. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    Where is the middle work flow shot. The one you exported from iMovie?

    Also, I notice the one from YT has the ladies face much larger. It's as if you enlarged the result from YT. If so, then yes, I'd expect a degraded picture. I know safari will enlarge video like that when you tell it to increase the size of a page via command-+.
  10. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    I had to double check, but no where in my guides do I say to use 15fps or 1500 for the data rate. I did notice both in an image, so perhaps I should replace that. I'll do another review when I get some time for it.

    Audio is a tricky beast. Are you using only the audio that came from your camera, and was that camera set properly? I know Apple editing software preferred 48kHz and 16-bit audio.

    If you added other audio, like effects or music, you are best to have it at 48kHz (and 16-bit). But over all, I think the important thing might be to make sure all of your audio codec specs match to one another. Mixing say, 44kHz from an iTunes song with a 48kHz camera track has been known to cause syncing issues.

    I'd open the project file and open up all the files in QuickTime Pro 7 and use Command-I to review the settings.
  11. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    Gday Keith

    Absolute genius. Worked perfectly. am also using iShowU HD .mov clips and importing them to imovie via your suggestion. perfect and INSTANT.
    Genius back door import, sans compression.
    thank you so much mate. I really appreciate it.

    will be working on clips and trying out HD compression settings for the next few days. will upload screen shots and optimal settings accordingly.

    hopefully this will be the last time an iMovie 06 user has to go through the Youtube HD compression settings guessing game.

    thanks again keith.will keep you and this thread posted.

  12. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    Gday xstep

    mate, audio is a tricky beast, you're spot on there.

    am using mp4 clips downloaded off the net and not importing from a video camera. will keep you posted when im sure i've figured out the optimal video and audio compression settings for Youtube(hopefully in the next few days)

    wish me luck
  13. Elvis Presley thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 15, 2010
    Gday forum

    sorry it's taken me so long to respond.

    here are iMovie 06 YouTube settings that worked best for me.
    please note, YouTube compress the living daylights out of uploads.
    if you're tempted to go for higher quality settings, all this will achieve is a
    a longer upload time with zero or less picture quality gain.

    Export: Movie to Quicktime Movie
    Compression H.264
    Quality: High
    Key frame rate: 60
    Bitrate: 5000
    Frame Reordering: Yes
    Encoding Mode: multi pass
    Dimensions: HD 1280x729 16:9

    Tick √Deinterlace Source Video

    Tick √prepare for Internet streaming and choose Fast Start - Compressed


    Format AAC
    Rate 44.100
    Quality" Normal
    Target bit rate: 128



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