How to find (or make) a DV reference movie?
September 13, 2005 7:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a reference movie for testing video codecs, or tips on how to create my own.

I'm preparing a comparison of various video codecs, and I need a reference movie to use as a source. Specifically, I'd like one or more sample AVI movies in 1080p resolution that present all of the major codec challenges (e.g., moving from light to shadow; wide spectrum ranges in a frame; rapid movements, etc).

Through google I've found a bunch of static test patterns, but not much in the way of moving pictures. SMPTE has a variety of test movies, but they seem to be focused (no pun intended) on theater projector calibration and are damn expensive. DisplayMate Video Edition seems to produce the kind of stuff I'm looking for, but it can't export movies to uncompressed AVI. I realize these files would be huge, which might explain their absence from the internet; but you'd think they'd be available on a DVD or something. If not, any ideas on how to make my own?
posted by danblaker to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
The guy you want to talk to is adam wilt.
posted by filmgeek at 9:08 PM on September 13, 2005

Use some footage of a basketball game. With all the fast action, & multi-colored crowd sweeping by in the background while detailed action takes place in the foreground, it's kind of a classic codec nightmare. This is not off the top of my head, it's a tip from a guy who spent some time developing compression algorithms.
posted by scarabic at 9:12 PM on September 13, 2005

Use Virtual Dub. It's Open Source (not that it makes it better), it's free (this certainly does), and it should support any codec you need.
posted by angry modem at 9:52 PM on September 13, 2005

It is important to use a reference movie typical of the actual sources you will want to compress. (So don't test with sports footage if you actually want to compress cartoons, don't test with modern tv footage if you really want to compress old newsreels, and so on.) Similarly, if your compressed bitrate is fixed, do the evaluation at that setting also.

So Doom9 uses two DVD movie scenes and a cartoon for their tests, as that is typical of what their audience will be doing ("backing up" films.)

If you don't know what your typical footage will be, or what compressed bitrate is required, then you need to find that out first.
posted by rjt at 9:52 PM on September 13, 2005

you can capture 1080i from terrestrial HD with a PC and deinterlace it and transcode it to lavc mpeg4 using mencoder. i do this all the time.

of course this requires you to sit down and watch a bunch of TV to find the kinds of scenes you are interested in...
posted by joeblough at 10:22 PM on September 13, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's suggestions. It looks like I'll be making my own test movies. I'll probably try to track down some HD footage of basketball, cartoons, fireworks, and put together a movie of static test patterns. Of course, I haven't asked this Adam Wilt fellow any questions yet--so he may have some ideas.
posted by danblaker at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2005

Response by poster: Just in case anyone else goes down a similar road... Additional web searching revealed two great sources of reference videos:

The Video Quality Experts Group
MPEG Industry Forum

Both have links to a variety of raw YUV reference clips.

An article on ("Voice of the Electronics Engineer") pointed me in the right direction; it's a fascinating read if you're interested in codec comparisons. In fact, the whole site is amazingly geeky and in-depth.
posted by danblaker at 5:48 PM on April 12, 2006

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