My brain hurts. So what's new?
July 4, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

The title sequences and credits are looking blurry on the videos I'm posting to WordPress. I need to find out the tricks to posting the best quality video possible to my blog, but I'm new to this. Help!

To show you what I'm talking about, look at the video that's currently on the front page of my site. See how the titles and credits look like crap? It's KILLING me. (Don't judge the video please. Yes, I've ordered a tripod. Don't have one yet.) I've searched the web for advice on this but haven't found any tips yet.

I'd never done this stuff before so I've been learning everything the hard way. I'm using the Modularity theme from Graph Paper Press, and it has a function to "post HD video." They say to take a MOV and save it as a FLV. I created the movie in imovie and then saved it for web (should I save it as something else? I liked the sound quality better on the "CD" format, but it was a larger file). I downloaded Sorenson Squeeze to try various formats of FLV. The file got SO much larger after it was turned into an FLV that I couldn't upload it to wordpress... I can only upload things that are less than 8MB. So that was frustrating. I tried 1MB, 2mb, 768, 512... this particular video was saved as "medium."

Since I'm a graphic designer at heart, this blurry type is physically paining me. I want to get better at this stuff so down the road it can look really good, clean, crisp, and sound nice too. Thanks in advance for your expertise. :)
posted by miss lynnster to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You can't get "clean, crisp" out of a modern video codec. They're designed to be optimized for video which doesn't have clean crisp edges, and they don't handle them well.

I think you would like the result better if you set your font to be bold face, but you're going to have to get used to having blurry edges, because all the alternatives are even worse.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:37 AM on July 4, 2009

I should qualify that: you can't get "clean crisp" out of a modern video codec unless you're willing to accept really poor compression ratios, and thus really immense video files.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:39 AM on July 4, 2009

I would look at encoding into MP4 files with the H.264 compression codec. Flash has been able to play it since Flash 9, and it offers much better quality than FLV.
posted by Magnakai at 11:46 AM on July 4, 2009

I don't think that's true Chocolate because there are codecs specifically designed for compressing video that is screen capture from a computer and they result in insanely high compression - half-hour HD videos that are a few megs in size - and basically no image degradation.

But that said I don't know enough about the details of video editing or compression to know the answer to miss lynnster's question.
posted by XMLicious at 11:52 AM on July 4, 2009

Such codecs in their turn do a poor job on anything like normal video. You can compress one well, or the other well, but not both.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:55 AM on July 4, 2009

So, what you're saying is... I'm just going to have to deal with icky type. Yeah?
posted by miss lynnster at 12:00 PM on July 4, 2009

Okay, here's another question. It seems to be stretching the video and text horizontally a bit. How can I get it to quit doing that?

Please talk to me like I'm an idiot. I kinda am.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:04 PM on July 4, 2009

Nevermind on the stretching question... I figured out how to change the video.php on my own. Yay me.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:13 PM on July 4, 2009

Ugh. Okay, so it doesn't stretch on the permalink but it still stretches on the home page. I don't get this crap! Arg. I'm gonna go have a beer.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:14 PM on July 4, 2009

Such codecs in their turn do a poor job on anything like normal video. You can compress one well, or the other well, but not both.

Well then what's with, for example, the captioning text in this video? It's not anti-aliased but it does not look blurry at all to me.

I know enough about codecs to know that they can just about contain arbitrary scripting code and effectively do things like rendering 3D scenes so I have a hard time believing there isn't one that could do a different compression between miss lynnster's titles and her video footage. Or something even more sophisticated like a differernt kind of compression in the region of the screen containing the titling.
posted by XMLicious at 12:15 PM on July 4, 2009

I create web video for a national TV show's site, so I've got some suggestions:

You may not get the options I'm going to suggest in iMovie unless you have Quicktime Pro installed, which is 30 bucks and worth every penny.
  1. When you export, check on the "advanced" tab. iMovie's compression is brutally ugly, so you need to output to a lossless or near-lossless format.
  2. Make sure that you've got some HD space to work with. For video settings, opt for "no compression" or "photo jpeg." No compression is optimal, but don't choose it unless you have at least 15 gigs or so free. Photo jpeg will work if you have less than this
  3. For audio, choose "linear pcm" and select "mono". We're going to opt for mono audio for the finished product. People listening through PC speakers don't care. If you feel strongly about it, feel free to ignore this.
  4. For size, choose custon and enter the native dimensions of whatever you're editing. Highlighting the file in the finder should tell you what those are.
  5. After that outputs, it should be relatively clear. Now move that into Sorenson Squeeze. I don't use it, so I hope it'll give you control to put in specific settings.
  6. In Squeeze, set a video bitrate of 310 kps, and an audio bitrate of 32 kps mono.
  7. For video codec, choose "H.264" if it's available. Failing that, choose "on2vp6." If you're stuck with Sorensen Spark, that's not that big a deal either.
  8. For audio codec, go with mp3
  9. Size is up to you or the confines of your blogging setup. You know better than I do. Just make sure it's the same size or, ideally, a bit smaller than your source
  10. Set the frame rate to 15 frames per second. Some people grouse about this, but I feel strongy that it's better to have 15 quality frames than 30 middling frames for the 500k that you've alotted.
  11. Run it!
This should give you a video that's under your 8mb target at a decent quality. If it's well under target, you might re-run it with 400 kps video and see if it looks measurably better (it probably won't, but I know you want the best that you can do).

Hope that helps.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:06 PM on July 4, 2009 [4 favorites]

In 10, I meant 350k, just so there's no confusion. I'm trying to make this absolutely clear.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:07 PM on July 4, 2009

Re-reading, I disagree with myself in 4. Just check "current," because if your source is being re-sized to fit on the iMovie stage, you don't want to add another resize into the process.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:25 PM on July 4, 2009

Well then what's with, for example, the captioning text in this video?

The text is rendered on the client side, on the fly (which also explains why you can switch it on and off).

The Flash player has excellent support for mixing graphics and video, of course, but that pretty much requires you to use Flash authoring software to generate the graphics and put everything together.
posted by effbot at 3:32 PM on July 4, 2009

If you don't use squeeze, what do you use?
posted by miss lynnster at 3:41 PM on July 4, 2009

I don't really see in squeeze where it gives me the options for the things you mention. So yeah, what do you use?
posted by miss lynnster at 3:44 PM on July 4, 2009

YESSSSSS! I just uploaded a new version and it's SO much better. The Sorenson logo is blurrier but my text is way better. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

I swear, I wouldn't be able to figure any of this stuff out if it wasn't for you guys. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 3:51 PM on July 4, 2009

So yeah, what do you use?

I use the Adobe Flash Video Encoder. I probably should have suggested it, because you, as a designer, may very well have it installed.

I also don't use iMovie very much (in case anyone saw this, thought that the content on the FL site was made in iMovie and actually cared.) I export the actual shows from Avid, and some content is edited in FCP. A couple of times I've needed to clip some content and add a fade for the storyboard video on the front page and used iMovie.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:23 PM on July 4, 2009

Okay, well... I'm just learning this stuff. Inherited the camera and already owned imovie so it was just easy to turn to. But it's in my best interest to always learn how to do this stuff as high end as possible from the start because it will help me improve my skills for my day job (mac-based Art Director). I want to make sure I'm in the loop and learning how stuff really should be done on a professional level and up to speed as quickly as possible.

I do own flash and creative suites. I bought Quicktime pro based on your comment. If I can avoid buying much else that would be cool but I'll consider it if it's really something I need.

Your advice is SO much appreciated. Thank you!
posted by miss lynnster at 7:40 PM on July 4, 2009

I do indeed have the Flash Encoder. Will the advice you gave above apply to it?
posted by miss lynnster at 7:42 PM on July 4, 2009

I do indeed have the Flash Encoder. Will the advice you gave above apply to it?

Flash Encoder is going to give you complete control for the FLV encode after your stuff comes out of iMovie. And there won't be a Sorensen watermark. starting with step 6, pretend that you don't have Squeeze and are instead using Adobe Flash Encoder. Your video will look really crisp.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:04 PM on July 4, 2009

Yay! For some reason it cut off the end of the video, but the type looks so crisp and purty that I don't even care. Wheee! I have pretty type and no watermark! Wooo hoooo!
posted by miss lynnster at 10:03 PM on July 4, 2009

The posted video's still interlaced, causing some title & motion artifacts. I'm not sure how to ask iMovie or Squeeze to deinterlace, though.

Usually, I encode DV to 640x480 - multiples of 16 are good for compression, I've heard, & it has square pixels (which computers use, I think) with a minimum of resizing.

For codecs, AAC audio & H264 video seems like a good match, but that might be because I just encoded video playable on an ipod. Being able to play on iPhones might be a bonus. Handbrake's the usual tool that gets mentioned here, though I'm not sure how well it works with size restrictions.

I use mencoder with kerndeint to deinterlace & hqdn3d to denoise, & a squeaky tripod I got for $10 from Craigslist.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:20 AM on July 5, 2009

On this theme, it wants everything either at 150, 590 or 950 width. So that's what I've been trying to do... is that right?

I use mencoder with kerndeint to deinterlace & hqdn3d to denoise.

I'm quite retarded, so I don't know what that really means.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:48 PM on July 5, 2009

If it wants something 590 wide, try - *calculates * - 576 x 432 or 512 x 384 video & let the player scale it up to 590.

I use mencoder, a video encoder, but it's a command line program, & I made automated scripts for it. There are GUIs for it & it has great quality, though I can't easily compare it to the other encoders mentioned.

Oh yeah: for mpeg-4/xvid, 2-pass encoding helps with quality when there's a mix of fast & slow (like the titles). H264 has a constant quantizer (?) option that manages the same thing. And unfortunately I'm infodumping because of time constraints gotta go durrr.
posted by Pronoiac at 6:16 PM on July 5, 2009

Dude. I don't know what a GUI is. I don't know what a command line program is to make an automated script. I don't know what a quantizer is. I appreciate that you're trying to help and in a hurry but I TOLD YOU I'M RETARDED so unfortunately you just kinda wasted your time rushing to say that stuff.

Like I said, folks gotta talk to me like I'm a total idiot or an alien from a luddite planet. Otherwise my pretty little artsy head smokes.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:32 PM on July 5, 2009

Sorry about the delay - I'd been heavily examining video encoding recently, without giving it time to digest, & nowhere to talk about it. I'm still likely to go overboard on details. Sorry. :)

Looking at the video I got then:
* Try the resolutions I noted before, 576 x 432 or 512 x 384.
* You should deinterlace: In iMovie, apparently it's "Share -> Export Using QuickTime -> Options -> Size -> Deinterlace Source Video." Export to Motion JPEG. Otherwise, you can export to DV, then deinterlace in the encoder: in Squeeze, or in Flash Video Encoder.

Lastly, the free encoders that I thought of - mencoder & handbrake - although really nifty & stuff, aren't really suitable for you, because they'd require pretty heavy configuration to do the job here.

Looking back, to explain some of the cryptic exposition: I was rebutting Chocolate Pickle with the line about 2-pass encoding, & trying to nudge mayor curley to suggest something about deinterlacing or denoising. I wrote horribly.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:05 AM on July 10, 2009

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