Choosing a Premiere Pro Preset; HD Vs. SD

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By | 2017-02-23T00:57:17+00:00 January 23rd, 2011|Articles|Comments Off on Choosing a Premiere Pro Preset; HD Vs. SD

Compare.pngI shoot pretty much exclusively in HD now, but often render to SD DVDs. When it comes to choosing a sequence preset for Premiere Pro, I have two options, native HDV, which is the format that I typically shoot in, or 720×480 widescreen to match my DVD output. Which is better? Well, the quality difference isn’t significant, but it is noticeable, and using a 720×480 sequence and shrinking the HDV video to match produces better quality.

By way of background, I was processing the latest crop of Nutcracker performances for my wife (she had three different performances this year), and produced the first DVD using a native HDV preset. That is, I input my HDV footage as HDV (no option there, it has to be HDV), synched the two camera streams on a single HDV sequence for multicam, chose the camera angles on another HDV edit sequence, and then rendered out to a 720×480 16:9 file.

I chose this route because I was hoping to create both an SD DVD to distribute and a Blu-ray for my own family consumption. But the results looked less crisp than I would have liked, so I re-edit the sequence in an SD 720×480 widescreen preset. Specifically, I created an SD preset using the DV – NTSC Widescreen 48 kHz preset.

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Then I used the Motion controls in the Effect Controls panel to scale the video down to 46% of original size, so the HDV video fit the SD sequence perfectly.

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I used this SD preset for the sequence where I synched the front and back cameras streams, and the sequence where I edited the multicam footage. Then I exported from Premiere Pro using the same Adobe Media Encoder preset that I used with the HDV source sequence.

You can see the results below (click on the image to view it at original resolution in another browser window).

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Again, the results aren’t strikingly different, but they are noticeable. My daughter Whatley (dancing as the first toy on point for the first time) looks just a touch clearer on the left. And that was enough to convince me to render using an SD preset for all subsequent productions.

Here’s a video from Vimeo illustrating the difference over the course of a short sequence. It’s been processed a bit more than the sceen shot (output to H.264 from Premiere Pro, then uploaded and re-encoded by Vimeo), but it still looks sharper on the left.