View Full Version : Pixelation issues with slideshows

12-13-2006, 09:12 PM
OK, have used all the "i" programs, toast titanium, now Fotomagico. Have G4 agp with dual 1.7 Giga, 2GB ram, 10.3.9, "ilife 05", radeon 9800 and so forth.
Originally when slideshow created through iDVD or through iPhoto then into iDVD was getting serious pixelation before, through, and following the transitions. Wife researched what other pro photographers with mac use and Fotomagico was tops. Bought the software (it's great by the way) and have been trying again. Thru fotomagico you can compress and optimize for 720p, 1080p, DVD, streaming, etc. Would export these QT files to toast and burn. The transitions are OK now....using 720p and 1080p settings. BUT now, most of the images are pixelated slightly when viewed on the computer or the TV. Just a bit blurry and then if you look at contasting line (arm in front of a dark shirt) it is jagged. Like you have sharpened TOO much.
Any ideas? Fotomagico says it doesn't matter the size or resolution of the pictures for the most part. I have been using the images she has cropped and editing that are uploaded to a professional lab.
She has researched and researched through her pro photo forum and apple's website and found that there are deficiencies in "i" software and the common thread is "you'll never get as good an image when burned to a dvd".
We have worked hours trying to figure this out. She would like to surprise clients with orders over $500 with a dvd slideshow of their session, but we are having so much difficulty.
Oh yeah, we have tried all this with two different graphics cards and two different burners. Current burner is Pioneer DVR111D.
The only "successful" one we have accomplished is going iPhoto to iMovie and creating the slideshow in iMovie, then export to iDVD. We are going to try and replicate that success, but it is too labor intensive to do that many steps for all the clients. (I work FT, we have a 3yo and 1yo, so all of her editing and and photo stuff goes on after 9pm, then she's up till 1-2am doing client orders and such, then up again a 7am to take care of the kiddos all day, finding time to shoot and all else is tough, so we have to streamline as much as possible).
Finally, WHEW, my inclination is that resolution DOES matter, so would be interested in your suggestions. We have burned about 20 DVDs and 3 or 4 SVCDs trying different setups and they are all the same result.

12-14-2006, 08:59 AM
What is most likely happening is that the images are being scaled to fit whatever video resolution you are using, and that is where the jagged edges are coming from: the stretching or compressing. As for the pixelation during transitions, that's usually a data rate issue when it is too low, though it could be a host of other issues as well. I own a post-production/media conversion business that works with all types of media, and the way I make great-looking (if I do say so myself:)) standard definition slide shows is:

Scan each print no larger than 640x480 at whatever dpi is needed to achieve it. i.e. smaller pictures need a higher dpi and larger pictures a lower dpi. Anyway, like a small vertical picture might be scanned at 150 dpi, making it's long vertical side no longer than 480 pixels tall. Scanning programs might do 486 or something like that and that is fine, it doesn't have to be exact. Just close enough to 640x480 so that video programs won't resize it.

I then put them into Final Cut Pro (either in a DV or MJPEGA timeline) with cross fade transitions and then render it all.

At this point you could export a reference movie for use in Toast or iDVD or whatever and they will treat it as video and not resize anything. I export to MPEG2 from Final Cut, then build the DVD in DVD Studio Pro, but it doesn't have to be done that way.

The main thing I think is to scan the pictures at the size of square pixel video as mentioned above, so that no other program will resize them and you should be good to go, whatever your work flow needs to be.

FWIW, a friend of mine loves using Motion Pictures that comes with Toast, and says it looks great, but I've never used it.

12-14-2006, 10:29 AM
Thank you for the help. I will check into all you mentioned above. My wife is the photographer.....I'm just the slave boy IT guy. She knows photo stuff CS2 and imaging inside and out....me......dumb. I do have a nack for trouble shooting hardware and software issue, but the details of sizing, formats, throughput etc.....I am uneducated. I know through Fotomagico I can export into MPEG2 and a host of other options...even Sorensen presets and such. Gets a little overwhelming and to be honest the last few days have been just taking shots in the dark and exporting in all kinds of formats just to see what works.
I check what you mentioned above and let you know what I find.

One last thing...you mentioned data rate issue. Is this something I can define? I know in the advanced settings.....there are all kinds of audio/video "rates" controls. If so, what is a good starting point?

12-14-2006, 10:51 AM
Also, Fotomagico says it will support all formats Quicktime supports including RAW. Is there a format you would recommend. My wife works in RAW, but then converts to Jpeg for uploading to lab.
Also, you mentioned MPEG2 above.....Fotomagico states
": Conversion from QuickTime to an MPEG-2 stream will most likely result in considerable loss of quality over your original slideshow! This is due to the compression and cutting down on data rate to comply with the industry standard definition of MPEG-2. This second conversion is completely beyond FotoMagico's control, regardless of how much quality you render the QuickTime file at."

Any way around this?

12-14-2006, 11:23 AM
Fotomagico seems to be able to export in HD, and HD video playback is only available on an HD DVD or Blu-Ray DVD which uses MPEG4 video like H.264, Divx, Xvid etc.. It will be a while before people like us will be making either of those types of DVD. They're doing the VHS/BetaMax thing at the moment so we'll see who wins out. So, from Fotomagico's point of view, MPEG2 looks much worse, hence the warning. But for a standard definition DVD (720x480 in rectangular pixels - 640x480 in square pixels) MPEG2 is the only option and is more than adaquate to encode slide shows. The only actual work the MPEG2 encoder needs to do are the transitions, the other video is stationary.

The highest MPEG2 encoding bitrate I would use wound be Max 8.6Mbps and Average 7.6Mbps. The lowest would be around Max 5.0Mbps and Average 4.0Mbps. If there is no audio track, you could raise these rates a bit.

Regardless of any bitrate or encoder, you should never see jagged edges.

12-14-2006, 11:25 AM

despaxas is the man about this stuff. I am as clueless as possible, overwhelmed as you put it.

I am using iLife 06, my G5, 10.4.8. Yesterday I put together 4 slideshows in iPhoto complete with music of my GrandKids. I have a relative on the east coast who cannot get DSL, cable, etc in her small town area so I wanted to burn the slideshows created in iPhoto along with music from iTunes and share them to iDVD. The screenshots below I did not dumb them down and some of them are fairly large size.

Couple of things to notice. Because the relative is using an old DVD player, I keep things as simple as possibe. No effect, Transition default dissolve, no Ken Burns. The transition rotating Cube I love but some players can't handle it. There may be others that are troublesome too.

In Settings I do use Ken Burns Effect. Also note the Slideshow Format. Also note that I set the Play each slide for 6 seconds instead of the default 3 seconds to give the DVD player more time to load the photo and of course to see it longer.

Now the 4 slideshows shared to iDVD. I love this theme Reflection Main. Has 8 drop zones for photos. Took a couple from each slideshow.

Important to use Best Quality and never Best Performance which I call Worst Performance. Best Quality is best when your project is less than 60 minutes. Next best is Best Quality at 60 minutes or more. As you can see, I was able to keep it under 60 minutes.

There are other things you should be aware of. How much room the hard drive you are using has available. The hard drive I'm using is a fast SATA hard drive, my main boot drive and it was only 49% full when I started the project and is now 52% full. This project has left files of almost 8GB on the drive and during the encloding process of iDVD, maybe 2x or 3x the 8GB size of temporary files. So you need a hard drive of large enough size and plenty of free space and of course not fragged all over the drive.

How does it play? For some reason, the burned DVD, on my G5, just the Reflections theme runs too fast and therefore the drop zone photos are jagged. Everything else great. On my DVD player hooked to a 36" Sony, the theme runs slower so everything is great, tho perhaps on the 36" Sony not quite as crystal clear because of being blown up to such a large size.

Enough for now that I can remember. k

12-14-2006, 12:58 PM
Thanks guys. You have given me some stuff to try/work on tonight. As far as disk drive space I am fine. Using a 250GB SATA drive with about 9GB on it. I'll read through these again tonight when I am at home on the puter.
I appreciate the time and tips you have offered, I'll keep you all up to date.
Thanks for checking out Fotomagico export formats. Knowing that MPEG2 is what I need, that will eliminate alot of confusion. I don't believe I have exported with that format.
Also, I will go back through and try the iLife way and see what our results are there.

One last question for now. Does it make a difference if I use -R or +R? I believe iDVD will only burn to -R, but if I use Toast (from Fotomagico) then I have my choice. We have purchase quite a few different brands for DVDs.....settling on Verbatim as our top pick. Any thoughts?

12-14-2006, 01:53 PM

Check System Profiler. In 10.4.8, my SuperDrive sez it will write -R or +R. However for DL it will only write +R.

I use Be All DVD-R (a division of Samsung) essentially because they work in all of my Macs and are guaranteed to do so in Pioneer SuperDrives in my QS, GigaMDD, and G5. 1x-16x.

On my G5 for DL I use Verbatim DVD+R DL, up to 2.4x. That project in iDVD with 417 photos total, transitions, music, Ken Burns effect, took 1hr and 23min just to get to the actual burn which took another 6min. Burning a 2nd copy another 6min. Good idea to know how many you want to burn. Another point of all this time is that I have processors set to Highest and I don't let anything sleep, CPUs, drives (including Optical), even monitor. Normally I let monitor only sleep after 15min. k

12-14-2006, 08:24 PM
I have a DVR111 and in profiler I can burn everything, but I was under the impression that iDVD wouldn't write to +R stuff. Was that a hardware limitation in the past or is it indeed still a software issue? Don't guess it matters really, but would like to know.

12-14-2006, 10:17 PM
I am just an "IT slave boy" too.........but wonder if something like Aperture fits in here somewhere. Sounds like you are already vested in CS suite, but I am curious.

Thanks for the info all. This is one base I have never had time to cover.

12-15-2006, 06:16 AM
Now this is referring to iDVD 6, go here http://www.apple.com/ilife/idvd/ and at the bottom of the page it lists -R and +R for SL and +R for DL. I cannot say about iDVD 5 tho Apple may have an old support page on iLife 05.

My QS 2001 with Pioneer SuperDrive will only work with -R SL at 2x and no DL capability. When I first got the QS, I had to purchase the DVDs from Apple and very expensive, about $5 each as I recall. So yes there can be hardware issues as well as software issues. k

12-15-2006, 07:05 AM
OK, did some more playing last night. In short was able to improve the quality "some". There is no pixelation during the transitions now and the images are not "as" pixelated.
I did crop all the pics to 640x480 and tried some various export formats and compressions. What ended up looking the best was Toast's Motion HD. Used the export setting of "high quality DV for iMovie" or something like that with NO compression. Burned in toast. Transitions were smooth, pictures looked ok, may need to sharpen them in PS before burning again to see if it improves.
Thing is....with this setting, it looked satisfactory on the TV and awful on the PMG4 and ibook. Crazy days.....My only other thought is to take the disk to a regular TV. I have LG HD tv and then the computer monitors....all digital stuff.

Thanks for all the help guys...I'll keep at it. I just know there a setting or something I haven't used or have messed up. Surely the quality for slideshow to a dvd and then onto a TV can be presentable.

If anyone thinks of something else or has some tips....please share.

12-15-2006, 07:11 AM
I am just an "IT slave boy" too.........but wonder if something like Aperture fits in here somewhere. Sounds like you are already vested in CS suite, but I am curious.

Thanks for the info all. This is one base I have never had time to cover.

Wife has looked at aperture, especially before PS CS2. Aperture would import RAW images natively, prior to CS2, photoshop would not. So she was having to import with canon software, then convert to JPEG to work is PS, this was time consuming and defeated some usability. Anyway, Aperture looks very nice the only great thing about PS is the # of users that you can trade actions with, buy actions, plug-ins etc. Wife knows how to make her own, but sometimes just easier to purchase/trade one.
Anyway, don't really know why I replied.....cause I ain't no expert on 'neither one.

12-15-2006, 07:15 AM
Thought of a question...when exporting different formats on most there are "Compressor" settings. With Fotomagico it is either color depth and you can adjust from least compression to best compression or some formats just have compression from least to best. A few will have some other sub-menus.
So, when doing a slideshow/movie do you want "least" or "best" compression?

12-15-2006, 07:42 AM
Found an Apple page on iDVD 5 http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=165001

I'm going to bow out because I don't resize images for slideshows, only sometimes for posting here. My wife's digital Canon is set for 1600x1200 and I leave it at that. I'm sure despaxas is correct but I'm clueless why 640x480 would contain more information than 1600x1200. The Compressor built into iDVD is limited to Best Quality at less than 60min (best), Best Quality 60min to 120min (next best, I've heard this called medium quality), or Best Performance (least quality). k

12-15-2006, 09:37 AM
640x480 doesn't contain more information than 1600x1200 of course, it's just that that's all the information that's "needed". Anything higher is just gravy for SD video or DVDs. Originally the reason I cropped to 640x480 was to make sure I centered what I wanted to show of the image, and crop the rest. But then I realized it cut way down on the rendering time if I imported them into FCP at that resolution, and also FCP never resizes them then. I want to keep as many fingers as I can out of the cookie jar, so-to-speak.

DV is a compression format, it is 5:1. It is fine for slide shows, I sometimes use it too. If you are using Toast to encode the DVD and don't like the quality, try raising Toast's quality settings. The best MPEG2 encoding is done using Two-Pass encoding which I don't think Toast uses. Do you have Compressor?

Also, perhaps try to scan a photo at 640x480 instead of cropping or resizing an existing digital file.

If your options are least or best compression, least compression seems like it would look better. It is not referring to least or best quality. That is a little misleading.

Oh, and the Pioneer DVR-110 & 111 will burn to either SL or DL in both +r or -r. I have a little rant on the whole +r thing because it isn't a format sanctioned by the DVD Forum. The -r was originally a hyphen r standing for recordable, then a band of companies calling themselves the DVD+RW Alliance made a competing format calling it plus r, so now the original actual sanctioned format is referred to as minus r. The only difference between the two is the wavelength of the laser that records them. So why did they do it? Who knows. One is supposedly not more compatable than the other in set-top DVD players, but I will still only use the hyphen r because they are the actual recordable format and the last thing we all need is to have more competing formats to choose from. Ok, off my soap box now....

12-15-2006, 09:52 AM
So naturally I thought of one more thing, LCD response time. Gamers care about that. It is measured in milliseconds (ms). A CRT is by definition zero ms. My 36" Sony XBR is a CRT. My Apple 23" display is an LCD with a response time of 16ms. Current best LCDs for gamers are around 4ms last I checked. Apple's current are 14ms. However I have no idea what an iBook would be.

For gamers too slow a response time is recognized by smearing during rapid motion but I don't know whether jaggies or pixelation occurs. Been awhile since I investigated but I can say that when my G5 is connected to a CRT instead of my Apple display Xbench definitely runs faster in all of its graphics tests. k

12-17-2006, 07:41 AM
That's interesting....didn't know that. However, our problem is seen on the ibook LCD, PM with Lacie Electron Blue (CRT) and on LG HD CRT TV. Great thinking there, unfortunately I don't think that is the problem in our situation. Been really busy last couple of days, but am going to try burning a few more with "least" compression. We will see...literally