Setting MPEG settings

on Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I like the MPEG format because it is easy to use and — most importantly —widely supported among Mac and PC users. MPEG is actually a family of multimedia file standards. There are currently four MPEG standards:
  • MPEG-1: This is the oldest version of the standard. A drawback of MPEG-1 is that it has a maximum picture size of 352 by 240 pixels.
  • MPEG-2: This standard offers much higher video quality and full-size video. In fact, MPEG-2 is the format used by DVD movies, so if you burn your movies onto DVD, this is the format you’ll use. MPEG-2 files require special MPEG-2 player software, such as a DVD player program.
  • MPEG-3: Usually abbreviated MP3, this file format only contains audio and is a popular file format for music files today.
  • MPEG-4: This newer standard is a cross of MPEG video and Apple QuickTime to produce video with very, very small file sizes. Support for this format is still limited. Studio’s MPEG settings dialog box is a lot simpler than the AVI settings. Review the following settings as you get ready to export your movie in MPEG format:
  • Presets: Studio provides a selection of presets based on how the file will be used. For example, if you plan to record the movie on a VCD, choose the VideoCD preset from the Presets menu.
If possible, I recommend that you stick with one of the presets, but if you absolutely must fiddle with the rest of the MPEG settings, choose Custom from the Presets menu. If you use one of the presets, you can simply click OK to close the Setup Options dialog box. Additional settings can only be adjusted if you choose Custom.
  • Include video: You’ll want to leave this option checked unless you only want to generate an audio file.
  • Filter video: If you’re working with a smaller frame size, check this option to smooth the appearance of the video image.
  • Draft mode: Check this option if you just want to quickly produce a low-quality file for previewing purposes.
  • Compression: Choose MPEG1 or MPEG2. Again, MPEG-2 can provide higher quality, but it requires special player software. MPEG-2 is used on movie DVDs.
  • Width and height: Select a frame size for your video image here. Smaller frame sizes mean smaller files.
  • Data rate: Most of the time you can leave these sliders alone, but you can use them to fine-tune the quality and file size.
The slider on the left controls video data rate, and the slider on the right controls audio data rate. The Make MPEG File tab of the Setup Options dialog box also includes a couple of audio settings. Audio options are
  • Include audio: Uncheck this option if you only want to output video.
  • Sample rate: 44.1 kHz is CD quality, but most digital camcorders can record at 48 kHz. The higher the sample rate, the higher the audio quality (and file size).
  • Data Rate: Use this slider to fine-tune the quality of the audio. Slide it left to reduce quality and file size, or slide it right to increase quality and file size. As you adjust the slider, you see the number in the Kbits/sec box change. Generally I recommend leaving the Data Rate slider alone unless you really need to squeeze a couple more kilobytes of file size out of your movie file.