Camera settings, image size, and workflow with Dragonframe for DVD and Youtube

I'm creating an animation using Dragonframe with my students.   I know a little about aspect ratios and dimensions, but not much.  I'm getting a little lost in the exporting process.  Basically I just want to be able to burn it as high quality as possible to DVD as well as upload to youtube with at least 720p quality. 


Here's my (planned) workflow, along with comments and questions that I have about it.
Anything you see that seems wrong or off please let me know.

Logitech Pro 9000 webcam grabs frames into DF
"Camera Settings" in DF are
--Capture Pin: YUY2, 640 * 480, 16 bits (def), 30.00fps  <---What does this mean???
--Resolution: Custom Resolution of 1600 x 1200 <---Is this overkill? I just figured it best to start as high quality as possible; I can always tailor it as need later.

Export takes to Quicktime
Settings are:
--High Res JPG/TIFF
--Crop to 16:9
--Rotate Image to match animation window
--Scale: 100%, 1600 x 1200
--Compressed, self-contained movie

This creates a reference movie...
Movie Settings are
--Compression: H.26  <---Huh???  All I've been able to find out is that this is good, but creates large files(?)
--Best Quality
--Key Frame Rate: 24
--Frame Reordering: Yes
--Encoding Mode: Multipass
--Dimensions: 720 x 480 (853 x 480) <---Would this be correct to create 720p files? When I view the movies in quicktime they are the correct ratio, when I see them in Windows Media Player, they are "sideways letterboxed"

Quicktime movies get imported to Premiere (Elements, since we're on a elementary school budget) and I put it all together that way.

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Some of the things you wrote here confuse me..

First under Capture Pin (not sure what Pin means) it says 640 x 480, which is standard (not high def) webcam resolution. Then beneath that it also says Custom Resolution 1600 x 1200 - huh? Which is it? This webcam might be using what's known as interpolation - which is when it effectively 'blows up' the image to make it seem bigger than it actually is. It sounds like it's no really an HD webcam (if it provides only a 640 x 480 image) but is artificially enlarging that standard def image to 1600 x 1200. 

I'm not sure if that's really what's happening - but if not then I don't understand why it shows 2 different resolutions. But it isn't overkill at all - you want to start with the highest resolution you can, as you surmised. 

The 30.00 fps means you're working at 30 frames per second. This is correct for output to DVD. It's a little more technical than that - the actual proper framerate is 29.97 fps, but usually they just call it 30. 

Ok, next confusing part - it says High Res jpg/tiff - which is it? Jpegs are compressed - you're best off to use Tiffs and make sure they're uncompressed. The idea is to not compress anything until the very end of the editing/outputting process. 

Next - H.264 (you seem to have dropped the 4) - this is a compressed codec. For files going into your editing software you should output uncompressed - use the Animation codec at the very top of the list of codecs in QTPro and select the highest possible quality, which gives you uncompressed footage. 

I suspect you're doing this differently than I do. Well, I work from a folder full of still images which I then compile into an Image Sequence using QTPro - it seems like you're using Dragonframe itself to encode for Quicktime? I'd suggest not doing it that way - instead you should find the folder where your captured still images are stored. Try a search using the name of one of the captured images (whatever naming convention you chose or DF automatically assigned). Then follow the instructions on this post. Includes how to download and install QTpro (which only costs $30 but is an excellent resource you'll use all the time and wonder how you ever lived without) as well as how to compile an Image Sequence from a folder full of stills. 

When you do this then you can select the compression-free Animation codec to export your files to. 

Note - 720 x 480 is not HD - you go by the 2nd number - so it would have to be (something) x 720. 

Thanks for the reply Strider, more than anything I wanted to see it talked through because it's a bunch of numbers that don't mean much to me :)

In the past, like you, I always had folder full of stills. I'd have kids import into Monkeyjam, a freeware, to create scenes that way.

In reply to your questions:
I've tried messing w/ the Capture Pin setting and I can't tell a difference. What seems to actually matter is the resolution, which I've set to 1600x1200. The fps confuses me since I'm capturing still images, and setting the fps of the animation later.

I've found the image files and it is saving them as as Tiffs, so that's good.

I have been using DF to encode into quicktime. I'll look into QTPro.
Thanks for the explanation of H.264 and compression. I've now set it to Animation.

Edit: If I remember, DF has an option to export as image sequence right under the Export as Quicktime option. Now I know what that means - so thanks again!

Ah ok - I'll bet the 30fps is the speed of the incoming feed from the webcam. That's not important since you're using it to capture still frames - it could be 1 fps and still work perfectly well. 

And I could be wrong about the interpolated resolution - I just looked in DF and I noticed the boxes that show the resolution numbers by default seem to show 640 x 480 until you put something different in there - maybe that's what you were seeing? I don't know. 

If DF lets you use the Animation codec at highest quality then you probably don't need QTpro. I mean, I know I said it's indispensible and all, but not necessary really unless you need something to compile images into an Image Sequence and put out uncompressed movie files. 

Good thing to keep in mind - that H.264 codec is a good one to use when you're exporting the final version to upload onYouTube. They recommend it as one of the best for that purpose. 

720p is 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels high. It is a 16 x 9 widesceen without having to stretch the shape. The P stands for progressive - which means it is not interlaced like old analog video is.
720 x 480 is standard def ntsc video. It is a 4 x 3 ratio, and to get a widesceen image on old video tape or tv broadcast formats, the picture was squeezed, so it could be stretched back out to fill a widesceen tv and look right. That's what that other width, 853 pixels, is about, it is stretched out to that to get the 16 x 9 widesceen ratio. So you don't want this resolution. If the logitech webcam can do "true HD" 1920 x 1080 resolution, that gives you the option of cropping in or shrinking down to 720p. Compositing with bluscreen, or wire removal or other effects, are better done at the higher resolution, before shrinking. It also allows you to do a zoom or pan in post production, so it's a benefit. But if it's maximum resolution is 1280 x 720, go ahead and use that. If the resolution is interpolated, that is, it's really only standard def blown up, it won't have the extra detail and isn't really worth it.
I have never used a webcam so I don't know the specifics. (I went from film to DSLR cameras.)
When I animated with Dragon at someone else's studio, she exported the shot as a QuickTime h264 for use as a preview, but that was not the full resolution highest quality thatwould be in the finished film. Those were a sequence of images in a folder. That's how I work too, I use other software to import those images and re- size and add effects. Then I use an editing program (Final Cut Pro 6) to assemble the shots, add sound tracks, and export the finished film. I save as an uncompressed HD QT mov file, then use QT Pro 7 to make smaller, compressed versions for uploading tomYoutube or vimeo. But for working with students, this might be making it more complicated than you need to.

Awesome, thanks for the detailed breakdown of your process and ratios. This explains why the weird letterboxing when I created the quicktime files.  I got the webcam due to the budget of my public school art class (none) and heard that it would do images up to 1600 x 1200.  Looks like I'm best taking 1280 x 720 images since the kids won't be doing any editing in post & it will save some disk space (but that's a great tip on the zoom/pan & effects to remember for future projects).

Good idea to shoot high res.

Export settings look good - maybe go to 1280 by 720 - this is a good upload size for Vimeo / Youtube.

Compression? - well most will want to edit the footage and then export a finished film from Premiere - so maybe keep a better compression codec until the last export. Maybe photo jpg at 80%. If you use H264 - go very best quality. Make sure your exporting square pixels - 1280 by 720 out quicktime.  Good luck!

I use 1280 x 720 for my tutorials.  It's better than what broadcast television used for decades, so it's certainly good enough for student work and tutorials.  For more finished films I make the master copy at 1920 x 1080, but I might upload a smaller version to Youtube.

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