Nothing I've tried has worked, dark scenes all look horrible

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by MVApple, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. MVApple macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    I'm trying to make movies that will not break compatibility with my ipod touch and still look good, so far I have failed.

    I am ripping my own dvd collection and I'm using handbrake to encode them in. What I do is I pick the iphone/ipod touch setting, then I pick anamorphic par and I use an avg bitrate of 960 and I encode in h.264. Scenes that are brightly lit look good but dark scenes are terrible. They come a blocky mess and its just horrible.

    I've also tried encoding h.264 at an average bitrate of 1500, I've tried encoding in mpeg-4 at an average bitrate of 1500, and I've also tried encoding in h.264 and mpeg-4 with features like deblock and denoise turned on and dark scenes still look pretty bad. The ipod touch screen is small enough that you loose a decent amount of detail in movies simply because the screen is so small so its really annoying losing even more detail.

    Is there anything I can do to make dark scenes encode better? How does Apple do it? The dark scenes in their content isn't perfect but compared to what I'm getting its impressive.

    Oh and I'm on a windows machine, at least for the time being.
  2. MVApple thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    So I've tried encoding this on two seperate computers and I've trade more bitrates etc. and still the same.

    Is this just a fact of encoding movies in h.264? Is anybody else getting better results?
  3. bronxmad macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2008
    Im having the same problem, and dark scenes are unwatchables :mad: I would like to know if its a problem only in ours iphones 3G, or if its in all iphones 3G.
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)

    Look how few "yea, unwatchable for me too" responses you are getting. The problem is that you are trying to encode for a tiny screen resolution and watch it on a bigger, higher-resolution screen. Give up on that.

    Instead, encode for the TV at max settings AND encode a version for your iphone. Then, you'll max quality for both devices, and the picture will look much better on your TV.

    Yes, you'll have 2 copies of the same film, but hard drives are cheap these days. If it’s a big deal (if you don't feel hard drives are cheap), use the TV encodes as your permanent files, and re-encode a selection of those for your iphones when you want to take a few movies on the road.

    Otherwise, you are chasing "magic," meaning that you are wanting to encode for a lower resolution and expecting it to look great at higher resolution. That never works very well.
  5. Elven macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    Amen to common sense.
  6. bacaramac macrumors 65816


    Dec 29, 2007
    Guys, this issue is technology being used to encode. I think Dynaflash said that they will be installing an update to help with this in the next handbrake release so the blacks are not as pixelated.

    Hopefully dynaflash can jump in here and give a technical break down of the issue you are seeing.
  7. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003

    Well, macroblocking especially in dark scenes has been a downside to x264 for some time at lower bitrates. I recommend downloading the current svn snapshot which among other things includes a newer version of x264 which has VAQ and does a nice job of eliminating/reducing macroblocking. Try it you should like it.

    Having said that realize that if you try to stretch to low of a bitrate across too large of a screen, macroblocking becomes inevitable as was correctly mentioned above.
  8. MVApple thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2008
    I've also tried the snapshot version, it crashes a lot though. The dark scenes are improved but in my experience its impossible to get dvd quality no matter how high of settings. I was going to store my dvds and convert encode them but I'm holding off till encoding improves.

    Common sense? Well here is one for you, I've tried the highest settings possible and the results are only slightly better. And by highest settings I mean the "film" and "apple tv" settings with higher bitrates than what was in the preset.
  9. Ti_Poussin macrumors regular


    May 6, 2005
    Use something else than handbrake then:

    Compressor make wonderful result, but a little more expensive.
    ffmpegX may be another solution for your task, not sure it's better then handbrake but may worth the check.
    QuickTime Pro, if you have some ripper (osex or something like that).
    VLC, stream the DVD to a file and encode it to h264.

    Any way, the H264 quality can overpass the one of the DVD, only a loss of quality may happen, compressing movie reduce quality no matter what (except loseless codec, but they make very large amount of data).
  10. dynaflash macrumors 68020

    Mar 27, 2003
    Frankly, its more stable than 0.9.2
    Oh, you will never get completely equivalent quality, its impossible as you *always* lose something when you compress anything. Having said that with the right settings it should by and large be indistinguishable to the human eye for the most part.
    Thats always an option to be sure.

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