Monday, April 18, 2005

Compression

So I've been working on this project that requires frequent approvals. I ran into a problem. The rendered files are large, so I exported them at a lower setting via Quicktime pro, but this comprimised the quality so drastically that it produced artifacts in the animated material that were not actually in the original version. This of course is bad news when you are trying to show your work. This might not have been such a major issue if the scene were animated objects, but since the object has animated material with text and very fine detail it became problematic. We decided that I would send my current progress on cd or dvd through good old fashion snail mail. Before I mailed them out I decided to preview them and noticed that when ran off of the disks the .mov's were sticky and jumping frames. So I hit the cg boards. Members suggested that I drag the footage from the cd to my hard drive and run it from there instead of from the cd. This worked. Somewhere in the recess of my mind I knew this from a previous experience but it just hadn't registered. But I'm not upset about it because there was an instant solution. Gotta love those boards!
Board members also suggested some compression programs. One was Sorenson Squeeze 4.1 which is about $449.00. I held out, and luckily another post mentioned DigitalAnarchy's Microcosm codec that is supposed to save lossless Quicktimes. I took a look at the product webpage and it sells at $99.00. I thought to myself "I was at DigitalAnarchy a week or two ago when I bought Text Anarchy" for After Effects (I was trying to resolve a scrolling text problem). The thing is with animation, you don't always know what you need until you need it! I'll probablly get it, give it a shot and let you know how well it compresses. If it does well enough perhaps I can by pass the snail mail in the future and send smaller files for approval via the web, which would be a lot more convenient. : )

Update: (4/19/05) Today I installed Microcosm into my Quicktime Pro program and exported a test file at 24 Frames per second. The footage was compressed from 2.92 Mb (the original size) to 1.48 Mb (the new microcosm size). I opened up the two files and placed them side by side, the quality of each is equal!

6 Comments:

Blogger Pseudoe said...

Hi Gina,

Just found your site/blog off of CGTALK today- The constant compression battle drives me insane...no so much that I can't make files that look great for myself, but more that it's increasingly painful to share files- you'd think it should be going the other way, but in my experience codecs (like my favorite indeo 5.11) are increasingly being taken out of the loop (xp no longer supports indeo 5.11 natively.) I guess what MS would like is that I used the wmv format and endcode all my work that way, but it's sooo much more painful to get reliable results imho. For web movies, I use .mov uncompressed and run flash files out of squeeze. Some examples are on my site: www.humanape.com I’m headed to SIGGRAPH next week and, while it’s the last place I’d like to spend my time, I’m going to find some workable solutions~

e.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Welcome to my blog. How I agree with your experience. I have even been offered suggestions that I use a particular codec and send the viewer a download so they can see it. I don't feel comfortable requiring someone to download anything to see my files, since I wouldn't feel comfortable doing it myself. I have also run into problems with approval for animations that have been compressed. Say I email them a compressed version and I get an all clear. Then later I send a high res disk, and they spot something that they hadn't noticed in the compressed version, mainly because the compression makes it not visible. This makes it difficult for my own workflow stream. I've heard a lot of good things about Squeeze, but I've yet to try it. I took at a look at your website. Your work is awesome, very impressive. Stick around here fellow King countian!

12:44 AM  
Blogger Pseudoe said...

Thanks for checking out my site~ I'll let you know if I find anything interesting a Siggy regarding compression...Your nano projects sound very interesting...I'm suprised "Diamond Age" isn't among your favorites...or is Neal Stephenson a hack??

cya,

e

8:42 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

That would be great. I do have that book but I don't recall if I read it or not. These walls are so loaded with books that if the book shelves were removed, this house would be twice as big! I tend to lean towards non-fiction books that theorize or lay out designs for our future. That's not to say that I haven't read fictional books, I have, and am aware that even sci-fi can be a valuable predictor of what is to come - but it's been a while. It's so interesting to look back at books that were written decades ago and compare the futuristic applications within the storylines to the world we are currently living in. Net meeting/video (2001), small wireless phones (Star Trek), talking computers (too many books to name), etc., and the list goes on...

1:38 PM  
Blogger Pseudoe said...

I have a friend who will absolutely not read any non-fiction...he says, "who needs it when reality is so ridiculous already"...funi. The reason I brought up "diamond age" is that it has a rich world of nanotech. I'm always impressed with Stephenson's ability to paint a compete picture in my mind of evolved/devolved society and culture (it would make for great animation). The world has basically broken down into "franchise" societies, who create their own borders. One group uses a similar thing to that rotary animation you did...can't remember for what.

e.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Yes I think I have stated it this way - fiction is some one else's fantasy - when you are inside their world, there will always be something that isn't exactly the way you would want it to be, but when we create our own fantasy - it is perfect. In simple terms "why would I want to live in some one else's fantasy when mine is so much better" (suited for me). Again, this is not a strict guideline for myself or a boycott of fiction, it is rather an observation I have experienced while entertaining other's ideologies. That is all, an observation. I whole heartedly support creativity, I am a player in creativity, and am a fan of sci-fi, animation, music and other artistic mediums and created levels established by various artists! I suppose being prone to read non-fiction books over the last ? years, is a matter of my current status in support of emerging technologies. One's mission can often dictate ones input so that we are up to date and current (aware and informed) on the topic. There is never enough research to be done, especially in the domain of a technology that advances daily and as we speak.
That aside, the tools that we do have available in our reality are so vital for exploration, the tools that could allow us to actually create and live in this fantasy world. At least the one that I envision - free of disease, free of pollution. Research and public awareness are imperative in this capacity. Hence my work.
You can find a lot more books on this and related themes, as there are a plethora of books utilizing the technology in their plots. The most rewarding to me however are those that provide hope for a better world rather than the typical antagonistic technology versions. While fear is useful to establish policy and guidelines to protect ourselves it is important that it is not become welled up in such a way that it causes us to by pass all of the wonderful societal benefits we could experience and thus deny ourselves amazing new opportunities.

3:07 PM  

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