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Best way to prepare video to use in Live for a performance.

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 4:22 pm
by LiveXXX
Hi Everyone,

Does anyone have any advice on how to prepare quicktime videos for use in Live for a performance?

For example, I will have a Macbook Pro (15" 2.2 Ghz) on stage and along with a backing track playing in arrangement view. I will have a video playing in sync that will be displayed from a LCD projector. Everything will be coming from that one computer and Ableton Live.

Should I make all the quicktime movies compressed the same way? Or not at all (eek large sizes!) Whats the best format, size or codec? Or does it simply not matter and I should mix, match and not care?

I want everything to run as quick and glitch free as possible.

Thanks for any advice.

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 5:43 pm
by socketghost
You should probably use JPEG compression - I know that sounds like an odd choice, and no, I didn't know you could use it for video either, but look in the list in QuickTime Pro or whatever and it's there. This compresses each frame seperately (most other compressors rely on 'cheating' by missing out data for parts of the image that don't move), which means that decompressing is less taxing on the processor, and also that it's easier/cleaner to change the speed, play it backwards etc. As for resolution, you should probably go for 640x480 or 320x240. 320x240 looks a bit crappy, but will save a lot of processing power. Depends on your footage really.

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:20 pm
by rikhyray
It is 2007 anything less then PAL 720x576 or NTSC 720X480 (or 852x480 if you want widescreen) would be ridiculous considering computer you have.
Dedicated VJ software would be better, if you want to use with Live on the same computer only Arkaos can do that. You can get away with Live only but no FX, crossfades, it will be very basic.
Yes it is better to have consistently same size, compression etc but various software may like one more then other - mov, avi or even peculiar codecs.
So decide software, find out what would be ideal codec, format etc. from manufacturer.

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:41 pm
by LiveXXX
Hi rikhyray,

I will be using Ableton 100% thats it.. The Ableton manual says .mov quicktimes but never mentions codec or size.

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:02 am
by Left Eye Dominant
I am afraid you are going to have to spend some time experimenting with the clips that you are using within your Live set and balance quality against the performance of your CPU. There are just too many variables here to give anything other than general advice. It would be best if all our clips are running from the same codec but having said that, it is not a good idea to add another level of perhaps unnecessary video compression to a clip even if the original source clip is high quality (unless you are dealing with uncompressed source files).

PJPEG is a good place to start as it gives small file sizes for good quality (you will have to play around with the quality slider in PJPEG to obtain best results, even 50 per cent gives reasonable quality, 100 per cent is virtually indiscernible from the original file, obviously 100 per cent quality produces much larger file sizes). In my experience Sorenson 3 and H.264 are good for streaming video but hit the CPU hard, so you might want to avoid these for Live performance.

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:10 am
by LiveXXX
Thanks for the responses I think other people will find this thread useful too. I was speaking with a friend who does video editing as a profession and he suggested:

640x480
Bitrate: 800kbps
MP4

Im still in research mode... what do you guys think about what he said?

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2007 6:27 am
by Left Eye Dominant
LiveXXX wrote:Thanks for the responses I think other people will find this thread useful too. I was speaking with a friend who does video editing as a profession and he suggested:

640x480
Bitrate: 800kbps
MP4

Im still in research mode... what do you guys think about what he said?
Like I said in my previous post, I think you need to experiment. I think 640x480 is small if you want projection, but if the video is high quality and has not gone through multiple levels of compression you might get a way with it (it ain"t going to be very sharp on a big screen at that size though).

One thing about the MP4 series of codecs, you may not get frame accuracy. As it is mpeg it works on a data stream rather than on frames. If you are attempting to keep the video frame accurate to the audio you might slip a few frames here and there, and it will be more noticeable if you are projecting onto a big screen.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 1:32 am
by suspended childhood
all my stuff is 720 x 480 .mov I maxed out my ram on my MBP and find the best performance comes from running the data off of an external 7200 Firewire hd. lacie has one that has a FW800 bus. That should do you well.

I use Modul8 for the video and it can be driven by Ableton. There is also a new app called JAM you may want to look into. Its been talked about in the past week or so here on the forums

you might also try www.vjforums.com

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 6:16 am
by LiveXXX
My new Macbook Pro has an internal 160GB 7200RPM drive. Thanks for the link to the VJ Forum I think it will be useful. I think Im going to stick with Ableton running the video itself. Each song already has a completed video so I don't need any real time manipulation... they just need to play when the song plays.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:38 am
by nobbystylus
By far the most CPU light codec to use is Photo Jpeg (i compress to 50% quality). Don't use mp4 or h264 as these tax the CPU much more as they use complex compression techniques.. I always use photo jpeg or mjpeg as they are high quality and CPU light (although file sizes will still stay reasonably high).

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:58 am
by rikhyray
nobbystylus wrote:By far the most CPU light codec to use is Photo Jpeg (i compress to 50% quality). Don't use mp4 or h264 as these tax the CPU much more as they use complex compression techniques.. I always use photo jpeg or mjpeg as they are high quality and CPU light (although file sizes will still stay reasonably high).
50% is really low, you should do it at 80%, can easily go for much bigger resolutions. If you ging to use Live only it may increase CPU by 2-3 %. Most of VJ apps would increase 70%. Arkaos was the lowest 30-60%.
I was shocked to see how easily it works and how shitty are most of those VJ softwares since, that includes pic quality, frankly they mostly fuck it up.
If yu can live with simple solution then it is increadibly reliable.
You could easily go for 1024x576 and standard NTSC or PAL should be fine.
Seems like some advices here come from G3 or Pentium 3 users with 128 RAM and 4mb graphic cards.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 10:40 am
by socketghost
rikhyray - I hear what yer saying, but don't forget he needs some of that CPU power for audio! Personally I generally run audio and video on seperate machines, but if I can't do that I really have to keep things lean and mean in terms of the video as my music tends to be quite processor-hungry to start with. You're right - we can probably wave goodbye to the bad old days of 320x240, but I wouldn't necessarily say HD resolutions are necessarily always possible. For simple movie playback I doubt the graphics card makes much difference to be honest, and I don't know how 'GPU optimised' Live is anyway.

To recap on the codecs - MPEG4, Sorenson and H.264 etc. are great for everything EXCEPT this. They produce good quality at tiny file sizes, but are comparitively slow to decode. Photo JPEG is old-school (sorry rikhyray), and is a less efficient compressor, but it's still the best for most live video applications.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:21 am
by LiveXXX
Hi Guys,

Thanks I am reading all these as you post... this is highly appreciated! I'm taking this info and researching everything you say.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:30 pm
by rikhyray
socketghost wrote:rikhyray - I hear what yer saying, but don't forget he needs some of that CPU power for audio! Personally I generally run audio and video on seperate machines, but if I can't do that I really have to keep things lean and mean in terms of the video as my music tends to be quite processor-hungry to start with. You're right - we can probably wave goodbye to the bad old days of 320x240, but I wouldn't necessarily say HD resolutions are necessarily always possible. For simple movie playback I doubt the graphics card makes much difference to be honest, and I don't know how 'GPU optimised' Live is anyway.

To recap on the codecs - MPEG4, Sorenson and H.264 etc. are great for everything EXCEPT this. They produce good quality at tiny file sizes, but are comparitively slow to decode. Photo JPEG is old-school (sorry rikhyray), and is a less efficient compressor, but it's still the best for most live video applications.
I use Photo jpeg too, for same reasons, no stress for CPU and me as well. The main point is. it absolutely amazed,shocked me. how lightly Live handles video. if he would try Livid, forget PAL; NTSC it hardly handles 320x240. Some video apps. would let you run Live on same computer, maybe Dj style 2 tracks, Arkaos works better then other softwares but if only Live is used, the video track does not stresses much more then any other track. I personally prefer not only 2 computers but also 2 or more people- have musician(s) or DJ when I do visuals.
For anything else then DJ kind of 2 to 6 tracks, using Live only, with its video track is the most sensible solution.

Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 7:38 pm
by LiveXXX
Its going to be 2 audio tracks of music and 1 track with the mic input open. A few plug-ins for vocal effects. 1 video track.