Ping (zestyping) wrote,

Questions and tips.

Phew, it's 2 am and my video for CHI is finally done.

Two questions.

1. Has anyone using Mac OS X experienced a problem where the window manager behaves like there's an invisible window covering up a small square (maybe 150 x 150 pixels) in the top left corner of the screen? No mouse clicks get through in that square, and things that normally light up don't light up when they're hovered over in that square. Rebooting fixes it (and so does killing the WindowServer), but the problem reappears eventually and i haven't figured out what triggers it. Any ideas?

2. Why do images lose so much resolution in video? For example, when i bring in a 640x480 photo as a still frame in iMovie, it becomes totally ugly in the preview. It looks like a blocky 320x240 image that's been blurred a bit. You can see this happening if you make titles using iMovie, too — the titles look crisp and perfect just for a moment, until they are actually rendered into the movie, and then they look like unreadable garbage. In Premiere, this is even weirder — previews of movie clips seem to randomly switch between a full-resolution mode and a half-resolution mode. And some movies will play at half-resolution in Windows Media Player (what a piece of crap) but full resolution in the original Media Player (mplayer2.exe). What the heck is going on?

Two tips.

1. If you're exporting a movie from iMovie and using "Expert Settings..." to specify the format of movie you want, beware the "Frame Rate" setting. There's a drop-down menu in the Quicktime Movie settings panel that offers options like 12, 15, 24, 29.97, and 30 fps, and an option labelled "Best". You might think that "Best" would choose 30 fps, or a frame rate that matches your footage. Well, apparently "Best" means "make the output five times bigger without any improvement in quality". I kid you not — that one flag has made the difference between a 30-megabyte file and a 160-megabyte file.

2. If you're using Premiere on a Windows machine, the best pre-installed codec is usually Microsoft MPEG-4, hands down, achieving much smaller file sizes and much better quality than all the other codecs. (DivX is better, but it's not always safe to assume that a random movie watcher will have it.) Unfortunately, movies encoded with Microsoft MPEG-4 are unplayable on a Mac — unplayable with QuickTime and even unplayable in Windows Media Player for Mac! I hate the pit of madness that is Video Incompatibility Hell.
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