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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 9:07 pm    Post subject: presentation size Reply with quote

If I'm working on a 'mediocre' computer, will the total presentation size affect the performance of the program or it that strictly a function of the individual image sizes? I'm planning on a presentation size of about 500 images total, possibly worked up as 10 different presentations combined into one using the mixer. TIA Charlie
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rsnow
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure what you mean by a 'mediocre computer' but from my own experience and what some others have said in this forum, one of the main things needed for smooth performance is a good graphics card. One that supports Open GL and preferably with at least 128 MB. Nvidia and ATI Radeon both make cards that seem to work well.
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2004 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry. Pentium III Celeron 700, over 700 SDRAM, 40 + 20 MB HD. I'm not so concerned about viewing on screen but rather in the building of the files. Currently my 'test' shows (just 8 pictures) are fine on-screen, but when I use the VAC for DVD I want to make sure that it will show without being 'blotchy' AND mainly I want to make sure that my system can actually get a large mixed file built so I can author it and then burn to a DVD. I know I'll need another graphics card (currently using a Radeon 32 MB). I've found that it runs the program a little slow (no real time viewing but passable) and I'm not satisfied with the resulting VAC produced DVD file. I plan to get a 'cheapo' DVD burner and then take that one 'master' DVD to a friend who can burn several at a time through his work. I don't want to buy another graphics card only to find out that the QUALITY after the VAC is no better and I don't want to find out that I can only produce small presentations (the final mixed presentation will probably be 500 pictures and I worry that my current setup will not be able to handle it even if I do get another graphics card.)

TIA, Charlie
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rsnow
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest I can't say whether or not your system will produce the results you want. I have a computer that would probably be considered toward the high end but I haven't tried a project as large as what you are wanting to do.

When I first started with the PE version over a year ago, I had a 1.2Ghz cpu with 56MB nvidia card. My results weren't spectacular but I was also still learning the program. Also the 3D Album software has been improved since then.

Maybe someone who has a system similar to yours can share what their experiences have been. I do know that as the programs become more powerful and sophisticated, the computers need to be that way also. I recently bought a game which stated on the box that they recommended a 2Ghz cpu, 156MB graphics card, 512MB memory and 1GB free space. So, it seems that programmers are expecting people to have pretty powerful machines.
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zfroggy
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My old pc was similar to yours,but I was using the old Vac and PE edition.
When I tried to convert 5 shows(total of about 150 pics) my pc froze up in the process..couldn't even get back into windows without doing a total restore.
After that I just did one show at a time and put them unto a vcd..too chicken to attempt another full merge.
So when I built my new pc,it was strictly in hopes of being able to mix them into one..know what..been to scared to try it LOL
I really want to as I'd like the transition effects rather than each show just ending and another starting.
But since even installing the CS caused me to be locked out of my HD,I'm hesitant to give it a try.
Okay not much help eh? Hope it goes better for you
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm not too chicken to try, but I want to make SURE I give myself the best chance possible and I don't spend the money only to find out my final output is no better. And if the end product looks too shoddy I'll end up needing to take it to a professional anyway and not use the 3D Album software. So now that I've gleaned all this GREAT useable information, I guess I still need to know if the 3D VAC (version 3.0X) captures well enough to get detailed images if I use the original higher resolution images ? I knocked the digital pictures down to about 1000 x 750 each because I was told that higher rez images would only cause problems and wouldn't affect the VAC generated mpeg2. But if I buy a good graphics card and the computer can keep up to where it doesn't crash, will the final DVD burn be better by using the originals (or at least a decent resolution version of the originals) ?
Another related question: If the VAC cannot capture at a high enough resolution, and I buy say the ATI All-In-Wonder 9800 capture/graphics card, is there a way to run the application on my computer while having the capture card capure it and produce the mpeg2 file?
Really, I'm not asking too much, I just want the DVD burn to look good enough to show some detail in the pictures. Right now on-screen VAC produced files even in DVD just don't look very sharp and are too 'muddy' for my taste.

Charlie
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rsnow
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2004 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you've already done this? Be sure to check your settings. In the 3D Album, there are different settings for matching the quality of your graphics card. Try a couple of small test runs using the different settings and see which gives the best results. Also, in Advanced Settings in the VAC you select either high performance or high quality. Finally, in VAC you can choose to use either the VAC converter or one you have installed in your computer.
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 3D Album, I used the highest setting button. I was under the impression that no matter what your graphics card, the highest setting gave the best final product if you're planning on burning to DVD using the VAC. I thought the buttons simply allowed the graphics card to show the images in the preview better. Are you saying that using a lower setting to match my graphics card will actually give me a higher res. sharper image? In VAC I set to highest quality. I did see the choice of using the VAC's engine or one on 'your system', but didn't really know a) if I HAD a capture engine nor how to 'find' it. If that is the case, then if I purchase the All-in-Wonder 9800 card (which has a capture card) then I ought to get a lot better product if I use it's capture software than if I use the VAC (surely?) Guess I better break down and get it. I can always take it out of this computer when I build a new computer from the ground up this summer.

cjh Charlie
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Frogprintz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlie,

You are making wrong assumptions. You CANNOT get a better image coming OUT than you have going IN. Changing the settings will not magically convert a poor quality image into a great quality image. If your images look poor on your PC monitor, they will look even poorer on DVD. No setting adjustment will change this, you must either improve the quality of your images by making them higher resolution, or choose a different image with good detail.

Secondly, the CAPTURE feature of the VAC is NOT the same kind of VIDEO CAPTURE you get with the ATI All-in-Wonder card. You are talking apples and oranges. The VAC capture is just a CONVERSION process that takes your 3D Album created file and CONVERTS it into a video file format such as MPeg 1,2, AVI, etc. The CAPTURE process on a graphics card like the ATI, simply provides a port for bringing analog/digital video into your computer for editing purposes. While it can also convert from one format to another, and/or convert analog to digital, this is NOT the same type of function refered to with the VAC options. A capture card CANNOT convert a 3D Album .exe file into a RAW Mpeg file for DVD burn. It has NO ability to take program files and make such a conversion. This is why 3D Album provides the VAC engine. It CAN do this through software.

I don't mean to belittle your knowledge or experience, but once again, I suggest you get one of many available books, and read up on the subject of video principles, conversions, and capturing. This will help you tremendously. I would certainly do this before spending a LOT of money on new hardware, because then you can make an intelligent choice based on your current/future needs.
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Frogprintz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frogprintz wrote:
Charlie,

You are making wrong assumptions. You CANNOT get a better image coming OUT than you have going IN. Changing the settings will not magically convert a poor quality image into a great quality image. If your images look poor on your PC monitor, they will look even poorer on DVD. No setting adjustment will change this, you must either improve the quality of your images by making them higher resolution, or choose a different image with good detail. The setting adjustments referred to simply improve EXISTING playback quality vs. performance. It does this by DEGRADING one or the other so that you can view your creation easlier, with a poor quality graphics card.

Secondly, the CAPTURE feature of the VAC is NOT the same kind of VIDEO CAPTURE you get with the ATI All-in-Wonder card. You are talking apples and oranges. The VAC capture is just a CONVERSION process that takes your 3D Album created file and CONVERTS it into a video file format such as MPeg 1,2, AVI, etc. The CAPTURE process on a graphics card like the ATI, simply provides a port for bringing analog/digital video into your computer for editing purposes. While it can also convert from one format to another, and/or convert analog to digital, this is NOT the same type of function refered to with the VAC options. A capture card CANNOT convert a 3D Album .exe file into a RAW Mpeg file for DVD burn. It has NO ability to take program files and make such a conversion. This is why 3D Album provides the VAC engine. It CAN do this through software.

I don't mean to belittle your knowledge or experience, but once again, I suggest you get one of many available books, and read up on the subject of video principles, conversions, and capturing. This will help you tremendously. I would certainly do this before spending a LOT of money on new hardware, because then you can make an intelligent choice based on your current/future needs.
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I KNOW about garbage in and garbage out. But what is garbage in for the VAC is not garbage in when running the app.exe. I understand that fine since app.exe looks good on screen while the mpeg2 (DVD) file from the VAC does not. BUT, 3DAlbum says to use files that are under 1 MB and that using higher res images won't improve things. Viewing onscreen using my DVD viewer, I'd say at that resolution it is garbage out. The question is, is it garbage out because the VAC software is incapapble of producing higher quality, or because of using the suggested file size of the input. I tried burning a miniDVD today to view on TV, but evidently my old DVD player won't accept DVD+ files. Now I hesitate to try higher res. images only because 3D Album says it won't do any good and trying higher res files would take some time because of my graphics card. Again, I don't want to buy another graphics card to speed the process along if the VAC is incapable of anything but garbage out. I will use some higher res files but would like some suggestions as to where I should start, maybe 2 MB image files? (the original files are scanned in as 1200 dpi and reworked in PhotoShop, so I have all the play I need for resolution.)

As far as reading up on how it all works, I plan to do that. But right now I just want to know if the 3D program (the VAC actually) can produce better output than I am getting using their suggested 1 MB files. Some seem to suggest it can't while you seem to be saying it can. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and try a few short presentations at different resolutions, but I was really hoping someone else's experiences could give me a definite answer. At least now I do know I am in need of a better graphics card to speed the process up some. But unless I can get better final output, what's the point.
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 5:55 pm    Post subject: AVI to mpeg2 or VAC to mpeg2 Reply with quote

addendum to my last post: if I have the VAC produce an uncompressed AVI file and THEN use an editing program like Studio 7 to convert it to an mpeg2 file, would that conversion be the same as the VAC's conversion to mpeg2 or would I possibly be able to make a better conversion of the file? I would think converting directly to mpeg2 would be the best, but perhaps the VAC compresses the files differently than is done through a good editing program? Thoughts?

Charlie
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Frogprintz
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2004 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charlie,

If I sounded arrogant in my last posting, I apologize.

Two points:

Having VAC render your video to an .avi file and then using another program, such as Ulead Videostudio7 to convert this to Mpeg2, will not result in a better MPeg2 than if you began by rendering directly to Mpeg2 through VAC. Mpeg2 is Mpeg2. The compression ratios remain the same.

Without looking at your original images to see where your disappoint lies, I cannot help you. Perhaps your expectations are too great. I don't know. What I have tried to share with you, is that rendering these images to Mpeg 2, for DVD playback on your TV is going to result in lower image quality. Period! The reasons for this are primarily 3-fold, although there are more.

1. Compression produces less sharp images with less vivid colors.

2. Playback through a TV also results in less sharp images with less vivid colors. This is because TV's don't display in high resolution pixels like a PC monitor does. TV's display in low resolution scan lines.

3. Making video, unless you go direct digital-to-digital, is like making a photstat copy of a photostat copy. Each copy gets lower and lower in detail, the more copies you make.

I commonly use a 300 DPI scanner setting when copying photographs to my image file folder. I ususally save my image resolution to 300 as well, after editing, croping, adjusting contrast, etc. I don't use the minimum of 72. Nevertheless, I get very agreeable results. My file size is way less than 1 MB. After rendering to MPeg2 and burning to DVD for TV playback, my video looks pretty damn good considering my explanation above. It certainly is NOT equal to commercial movie productions, in terms of sharpness and vivid colors, but it is still very entertaining or informative. Therefore, all I can finally say is, GOOD is a matter of preference. Like that old saying, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

If you want to see an example of highly compressed video, formatted for web viewing only, in the MS wmv file format (which is a tradeoff of quality for performance since web playback through a modem is extremely slow), go to my website and choose the "Movies" tab at the top of the screen. Then click on "Amphibian Blues." If you have a 56K modem instead of a broadband connection, be patient!, it will take a while to download. But, this will show you an example of the lowest quality produced. I can't show a high quality, because the download times would be too great, and these are not "Flash" video productions. Anything you create is sure to be better than these.

A better video card will increase performance with less rendering issues, but not give you better image quality.

CLICK HERE TO GO DIRECTLY TO MY WEBSITE http://www.frogprintz.com
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Charles J. Hentz
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2004 12:31 am    Post subject: Thanks ! Reply with quote

"Mpeg2 rendering is Mpeg2 rendering" gives me another answer I greatly needed. I was hoping there were several compression schemes while still keeping it mpeg2. Oh well. If I don't plan to print in a larger size, I also normally use about the same res as you for scanning (360 dpi actually). Generally why get the information if you're going to throw it away anyway. That was one of the reasons I questioned making the originals a higher ppi. From what you've said about the size you use with the program, it sounds like my expectations are too high. I'm hoping that TV viewing of a burned DVD presentation will 'ease my pain'. I'm thinking it might simply because the viewing is much farther away than looking at a monitor Smile If there hadn't been such a 'drastic' difference between the application.exe file and the VAC mpeg2 file, I wouldn't have even entertained trying to get better results.


At any rate, the information I have gleaned from these posts is tremendously helpful to me, even though I'm disappointed that apparently it's as good as it gets. I'm not upset at any of your posts and hope my frustrations at being so ignorant in this area don't discourage you from helping others as you have with me. Know that your time AND patience in answering my questions are greatly appreciated!


Charlie
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Frogprintz
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2004 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello rsnow,

I don't disagree with you. I too have had favorable results with 72 DPI. However, I use 300 DPI as my default because of the wide variety of images I use. I have discovered that certain photographs, scanned or captured at a higher res, display better. There are a number of factors that come into play when choosing your settings. These include color balance, detail, positioning, flow, speed, style, etc., etc. For this reason, plus I also do HDTV playback occasionally, I use 300 DPI.

Since Charlie seems to be focused on image detail, I suggest he tries this setting. But, he does not have to use I MB image sizes to get a better result. Without looking at his images, style, type, etc., it is difficult to make the right recommendation.

Digital cameras (at least the higher end models), have the ability to capture at very high res. if desired. This is why 2, 3, 5, 8 Megapixel cameras are becoming ever more popular. The 5 and 8 MB cameras come close to rivaling film in terms of clarity, color, and sharpness. These settings are adjustable in most cameras.

512 X 512 is an exceelent size choice for most of the styles in 3D Album. They do position better when square sized. Sounds like your experimentation is paying off.

I am by no means an expert with 3D Album. I too have a lot to learn and experiment with. My best experience is with "Video Production" and photo creation/enhancement in general. This serves me well. Though I have a full studio for producing computer animation, I like 3D Album because I can do something very creative, quickly and easily, at little cost. This is great for weekend photoshoots that I share with family and friends.

Come on upgrade!

Michael Young
http://www.frogprintz.com
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