Alrighty, I've been wanting to make a video using footage from my capture card. I used an S-Video cord for video and a White and Red for Audio. I'm using WinDVD for my capture program and sometimes it can be confusing cause all the specs and options are related to DVD in some way. For instance the record profile is, DVD HQ, DVD GQ, DVD SP, DVD LP, DVD EP. So when I recorded I had it set on DVD HQ. I chose MPEG Audio for the Audio Format and NTSC for the TV standard.

Now in a different options window it says Recording Profiles and I chose Divx and MPEG-4 with DivX Certified Home Theater (MP2 Audio). With Divx and MPEG-4 it gives me the options of, the Divx Certified thing I just named, or MPEG-4 MP2 HQ, GQ, SP etc. In the same options window it asks for Video Standard and I have NTSC_M selected cause I dont know what the heck any of them mean.

If I select MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 it gives me "with" options of DVD HQ, GQ etc. This program is so idiot friendly, it doesnt tell you the specifics of anything. So anyway, all my clips were recorded at 720x480 .avi with the settings I specified and a data rate in the 500Kbs range. The only thing I notice when I switch the qualities around (the HQ, GQ thing) is the data rate drops the lower down the list I go. So as a test one day, I compared them, and the DVD HQ looked exactly as good as the DVD EP (the lowest). I dont use the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 option because it gives it a black border for some reason and it's annoying.

The problem I have is, these captures look terrible. Upclose it's well defined but not very smooth, specially with alot of action. It's things in the background that's the real bother, they kind of smear together more and more the farther things away are and have little detail. It bothers me because i've seen 320x240 that looked a hell of alot better then it does. So im sittin here with these clips recorded at 720x480, that are getting beat up by 320x240 clips in quality. My problem is, why? Can anyone help me figure out, out of the specifics up above, why this is happening? They look acceptable if your watch it on your PC and in 200% (lay off the full screen) but there raw, and there huge in size. What's worse is, encoding these bad looking 720x480 makes them look even worse.

so my 720x480 clips are the equivelant of everybody who knows what there doing 320x240 clips. My 320x240 clips are like a 56k modems theme park. Ontop of that, my compressing/encoding techniques are horrid. I've been all over different kinds of codecs dozens of times, trying to make the video look as good as it can at 320x240 and have a sane file size. I was only able to accomplish this once with the wmv9 codec.

Oh sorry 352x240. So...not quite but give me a break. It's 352x240, Data Rate 131kbps, Video Sample Size 24-bit, stream name video 2, Audio Bit Rate 384kbps, audio sample size 16-bit, 2 Stereo, Audio Sample Rate 44Khz. Duration 31 seconds, size 1.23MB

Im not entirely sure why or what after my 17th try (21 tries in all) with that codec resulted in the Audio Bitrate going from 128kbps to whatever the hell it felt like, one time it was in the 500s. The sad thing is after it got higher then 128kbps, the sound finally stopped sounding like christmas ordiments being swhooshed around in a bag.

When it comes to format and codec, I have no preference, but i've tried Quicktime, Windows Media 9, Divx Fast-Motion, Divx Slow Motion, Divx Pro 5.2.1 (or whatever it was), Indeo, Cinepak and Xvid. Indeo doesnt even work, Xvid it kept saying statsfile not found until I redownloaded it. Now, my best efforts with Xvid just turn out in Red Blue and Green in fast motion. goes through 31 seconds in 5 seconds.

There are so many variables here to take into account I dont know where in the hell to begin to start doing controlled tests of figuring out whats going on. Is the fact that im recording at 720x480 a problem? Is S-Video incapable of doing that correctly or is my capture card a result in the poor capturing? Could my template settings when I start a new Vegas project ruin it in anyway? Such as, the videos being recorded at 4:3 but me setting the project at NTSC DV Widescreen? I dont record at 320x240 cause I need some kind of master tape you know. BUT MY MASTER TAPES LOOK LIKE 56K STREAMING VIDEO!!!! hahahaha........life sucks.

Also, I've seen .avi 320x240 16:9, 128Kbps 44Hz 16-bit 10 minute videos at 40-50MB with a data rate of 89 encoded with Divx looked good even on 200%. Naturally my biggest concern is, "does my video look as good as it possibly can with those specs" and right now it plainly doesnt.

Oh by the way this ties into Vegas cause that's the program im using to edit and render. If anybody can not only help with why my captures look so bad, but encoding it to perfection that would so unbelievably appreciated. I'm not married to any of the formats, but I would prefer .wmv.

Other notes are, im recording at a 4:3 aspect ratio, but I 16:9 the video, would that make it look worse cause I despise 4:3. Not only do I widescreen it but I then crop alittle bit of the top and bottom AFTER I widescreened it, I dont know if it takes the video that you can see and widescreens that or if im literally making an even wider widescreen by doing it. When I do the cropping on 4:3, everything looks so stout, so that's why I widescreen it instead of just leaving it a cropped 4:3. I yet to figure out how to take the black cropped area out of the video completely, not sure i'd want to but it would be nice to know.

OH OH, and does anybody know why my raw captures, which I guess are recorded in AVI DV are rejected by Vegas AND Premiere but not movie maker. Premiere doesnt even let me import it, Premiere lets me put it into the import box but doesnt let me use it or watch it. (I dont know the difference between AVI and AVI DV but it only lets me record in one, im not even sure it's DV i just suppose)