Transporting a high-quality HD movie

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by BBob, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. BBob macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2003
    In a bit of bad timing for the passing of Aperture, I've used it to create a 17-minute slide show for a wedding rehearsal dinner. Then I exported it as a 1080p HD movie that I can play at the dinner, creating a roughly 7 GB .mov file. Since I aim to use a video projector during the dinner, it will be blown up pretty large so I’m definitely looking for the best HD quality I can achieve. I live almost 1,000 miles from where I’ll need to connect to a projector, so my goal is actually to arrive with multiple options for playback, since I know from experience I can’t count on any particular one to work.

    One of my options is to use Toast to burn the movie as a 1080p HD video to a DVD (not a Blu-ray disc since I don’t have a Blu-ray burner). When I do this, however, Toast displays the DVD size as around 2 GB. I am able to play this in my Blu-ray player and get 1080p playback on my TV. It's definitely watchable, although the colors suffer a bit.

    My question is: Why is the output file so much smaller than the 1080p file exported by Aperture? Is this something I should worry about?

    Let me elaborate a bit. First, I’m using Toast’s High-Def/Blu-ray Disc Plug-in, with which, according to Roxio, “… you can burn high-def video content on standard DVD discs and play them back on your set-top Blu-ray Disc™ player!” When I start Toast, I have the video tab selected, the format set to Blu-ray video, the media set to Blu-ray disc, and the quality set to best. When I drag my 17-minute, 7 GB movie file onto the Toast Window Toast shows me that it will consume 3 GB of the 23.3 GB available on a Blu-ray disc. If I keep everything the same, initiate the burn, and insert a DVD-R, the size changes to just under 2 GB (plenty of room to spare), and the burn is successful. When I insert the disc into my Blu-ray player, it appears as a “DVD-R AVCHD” disc and plays as 1080/60p MPEG ranging from 14 or so to 17 Mbps.

    As far as I can tell, I’m getting full HD, however, even when Toast thinks everything will be Blu-ray, the size drops from 7 GB to 3 GB, which concerns me, and then once Toast realizes I’m actually using DVD media, the size drops by yet another GB. My challenge may be to reduce the amount of compression to achieve better color resolution, but maybe a DVD has an upper limit on the Mbps it can deliver.

    An additional approach is via HDMI from an iPad, using Apple's HDMI adaptor. This is an appealing approach, since I have an iPad Air from early 2014. One question is the quality. Amazon’s reviews contain a lot of complaints about the loss of quality and resolution through the adaptor, although most of them seem to be using it with iPads older than mine. Another question is what is the best way to get the movie onto the iPad? iTunes sync? What app should I use to play it? Has anyone had any experience, good or bad, using this approach? Any other gotchas?

    So far these seem to be my alternatives:

    a) burn HD to DVD using AVCHD
    b) use an iPad and HDMI adapter
    c) use a flash drive (assuming the projector has a USB port and can play the format of the file it contains)
    d) bring a laptop and use HDMI
    e) get a Blu-ray burner and media and find a Blu-ray player locally

    Any other suggestions?
  2. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
    Let me start by saying, I do a lot of work that has to be transferred all over the world for events.

    The best solution is to bring a laptop that you know it plays on and hook it up the a projector. The less adapters/pieces of equipment, the less that can go wrong.

    Bring a USB with it as a backup and load to dropbox or google drive as a cloud backup.

    If file size is really and issue for you, I would also focus less on the best quality possible. When you sit 12 inches away from a computer screen you see a lot more detail than siting 15-20 feet away from a screen. Creating a variable bit rate MP4 file can yield great results with a much smaller file size. You might notice a small difference in quality, but it will not be seen on a projection screen.

    The reason for a DVD file being so much smaller is its converting it to a compressed format. Some DVD players will be able to play it, others wont.
  3. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    Definitely a laptop and hdmi, with a usb stick as backup.

    in addition to what has already been said. As I presume that the slide show will contain stills, best quality will be achieved by using Aperture on a laptop to show the slideshow directly via hdmi, thus avoiding the conversion step. Especially stills suffer from loss of quality when converting to a movie format.

    A dvd has a reliable maximum throughput of 7 Mbs. If you need higher than use BlueRay.

    Good luck with rehearsing!
  4. BBob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2003
    Thanks for the advice! I was hoping not to lug my work MBP along for the trip; what do you think about playing from an iPad via Apple's HDMI adaptor?
  5. Dave Braine macrumors 68040

    Dave Braine

    Mar 19, 2008
    Warrington, UK
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but even with Toast's HD plugin, if you are using standard dvds and a standard dvd burner, all you'l get is a standard definition dvd, which is only 720x576 pixels(PAL) or 720x480 pixels(NTSC).
  6. BBob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2003
    As far as I know, AVCHD permits actual HD content on a DVD media. My Blu-ray player reports seeing 1080p at any rate.

    I just searched and found this: meaning that the earliest HD camcorders were actually recording HD onto standard (but smaller) DVD media.
  7. HobeSoundDarryl, Apr 16, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    I think the DVD device is NOT to make a DVD-Video disc but to use the storage space on a DVD to save the file as an HD Video file. That won't play on a DVD player but it's basically the same as storing an HD file on a USB drive or Hard Drive. The only issue with using a DVD is having enough space for an HD file. Such a DVD may play the HD video file in HD on a Blu Ray player if that Blu Ray player will play files on DVD discs (again, this is different than a DVD video such as movie you might buy on DVD).

    If he needs more capacity than what a DVD can hold, he's got to think about USB drive, portable hard drive or Dropbox or similar. He references file sizes of 3GB to 7GB. If that's the case, a single layer DVD will hold the 3GB and a DL will hold the 7GB just fine.

    At those sizes, if it was me, I'd just buy a USB drive at 8GB or more, format it as EX-FAT so it can hold files bigger than 4GB (when they are formatted as FAT) and put the video on that. USB is everywhere so that should be pretty solid. If there's any chance there won't be a computer connected to that projector he references, he should take along a computer with the complement of ports (and/or adapters) so that he can connect to what is very likely display port and/or VGA on that projector. I would have less faith in the iPad idea but that could potentially work too (if he can fit the file on the iPad).

    I think his process of burning a DVD is resulting in him making an SD version of the file on a DVD-Video disc. That's probably why the file size is dropping so much. He needs to burn the movie file to a DVD much like if he wanted to put files of other types on a DVD (data) disc for archival purposes. He can do this in Finder (doesn't need Toast, etc). Otherwise, he might be using single layer DVD media and Toast is automatically reducing the file to fit the available space (a Double Layer (DL) DVD offer more than the 7GB of the full file).
  8. BBob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 3, 2003
    I think this is pretty close to what's happening. I can definitely see enough detail on my HDTV that I'm convinced I'm not seeing DVD-quality or even upscaled output.

    My movie plays in 17 minutes. I think that a DL DVD media may not be able to be read quickly enough, even in a Blu-ray player, to get through 7 GB in 17 minutes

    Putting the movie on a USB drive is probably one of the things I will do.

    I think Toast may be doing what I want via AVCHD, but increasing the compression levels to match some kind of internal bit-rate limitation parameter. According to Quicktime, the original HD movie file is 53.47 Mbps. In Toast, I think the bit rate is something like 26 Mbps when it thinks I'm burning to Blu-ray; this already cuts the file size by more than 50%. Then Toast seems to lower it again when it starts burning and discovers it's burning to DVD-R media. My Blu-ray player reports peaks around 17 Mbps while playing the disc. From 53.47 Mbps to 17 or less is a lot of compression.
  9. HobeSoundDarryl, Apr 16, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    I don't know Toast well enough to offer solid input on that. Here's what I would do:

    1. Call whoever controls the projector and get a clear picture of what can be hooked up to it, specific ports, etc. Is it a 1080p projector (many old ones may have resolutions short of 1080p)? If it's lower resolution like 1024 X 768 (very common in older projectors), you could re-render the video down to 720p and get the same video quality (from a smaller sized file).

    2. Also ask them if they are supplying a computer hooked to the projector or if you need to bring one. If they are supplying, does it A) have a USB port, B) Blu Ray drive, C) DVD drive, D) Internet access

    3. #2 will likely influence whether you need to bring a computer or try to make a go of it with an iPad + adapter. It will also decide ideal medium(s).

    4. If 2A) buy a USB drive. Be ready to format it as EXFAT so it can hold something bigger than 4GB and either figure out Toast or use the free Handbrake with an AppleTV 3 preset to render the HD video file. If the rendered file comes in under 4GB, you don't need to reformat the USB drive to EXFAT, so go with the default. Test the file on the USB drive with your own computer to be sure it plays. Copy the file to your computer as a backup. If you might try to play it off your iPad, sync it onto the iPad too and test it from there as well.

    If 2B) Use toast to burn the video to a Blu Ray Disc. Test playback in a Blu Ray player. Don't assume.

    If 2C) Basically 2A again but burn the rendered HD file to the DVD using Apple Finder. If the rendered file is > than about 4GB, use a Double Layer (DL) blank DVD. If the rendered file is < 4GB, you can use a Single Layer blank DVD. Test playback on a computer that is connected to a DVD player (ideally not the same one you use for the burning). You've done it wrong if this will play on a regular DVD player (that will mean you've lost the HD and made a SD DVD-Video disc).

    If 2D) Basically 2A, then upload the rendered file to Dropbox or Google Drive or any of those. When you get to your destination, get on the attached computer before the presentation and download the file, storing it somewhere where you'll have easy access when you need to play the presentation. Ideally, you test playback via the projector before you need to do the actual presentation.

    5. If 3 points to "bring your own", I'd be cautious about trying to make a go of it with an iPad. Instead, I'd probably bring a laptop with the HD video file already installed and maybe have the iPad ready for a backup to that laptop.

    6. If you absolutely need to travel light, consider working out a laptop rental at your destination to pickup, do the presentation and then return the same day. That should keep costs down while giving you a dependable solution. If you rent one, they can probably provide any necessary cables/adapters too.

    7. Make sure you have the cables to make the connection from laptop and/or iPad to that projector. Don't assume they'll have them on the other end... even if they say they have them.

    By the way, don't sweat the render change (Toast or Handbrake) of file size. Unless everything in that video is moving pretty quickly (think every pixel, like sticking the camera out of the window of a moving car and shooting the blur that is going by), I doubt you'll be able to tell the difference in visual quality even if the file size is cut in half. Your 53.47Mbps original is probably overkill. If the render is chopped down to half that or even a third of that, you might not be able to see any difference.
  10. coldsweat macrumors 6502


    Aug 18, 2009
    Grimsby, UK
    Keep it Simple!

    If you want the disc to be readable by the majority of players DO NOT start putting AVCHD content on a DVD - you're asking for trouble. Stick with a standard definition 480p DVD.

    Your wedding guests should be sat far enough away that standard definition will be absolutely fine & I'm sure that not a single guest, bride or groom will shout at you because the slideshow wasn't in 4K, HD or whatever - they honestly won't give a ****** about the resolution - they just want to see the pictures!

    Saying that, there's no harm in taking HD content with you (I would personally take the iPad + an HDMI & a VGA adapter in addition to a basic DVD) & if it works that's great, all I'm saying is don't spend time over thinking it too much, so keep it simple!
  11. Unami, Apr 17, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    53 mbps is overkill - you can definitely bring this down to 10mbps with hardly any noticeable difference in quality. (probably much lower, if it's only a slideshow with static images, a little ken-burns zooms and transitions). remember, the maximum 1080p bitrate,netflix uses is 5.6mbit - and that's for moving images with much going on in the frame.

    i'd take it with me on the ipad and use the hdmi adapter. quality should not be a problem if you playback a video file. only screen mirroring seems to yield bad results.

    i'd also put it on some cloud storage (dropbox, icloud drive) and/or have an usb-stick as a backup with me. if push comes to shove, you'll find a laptop capable ob playing back your file.

    don't forget to bring your own hdmi-cable. and don't forget to ask, if the projector even accepts hdmi-in. (if not, you have to go the laptop-route anyway).

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