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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video System
While waiting for my iPod Video to ship to my place, I had been ripping DVDs using MacTheRipper and then HandBrake to convert the videos to H.264. However, after receiving my iPod, I figured out something. Some people might already know this, but I thought I would put this hint out, just in case. On Apple's website, they say that the iPod Video can support MPEG4 file formats up to 480x480 at 30 frames per second. However, when I was using HandBrake to convert my VOBs to MPEG4, I accidently forgot to compress the screen size to around 480x207 (or whatever the size was for widescreen). So I wound up converting the movie at 704x304 pixels instead.

My friend tried a larger screensize using the H.264 file format, and he said that his iPod would not accept it. So I am not sure about that format, but MPEG4 seems to be working fine in a larger size than what Apple is promoting on their site. When we hooked up my iPod to our TV, the quality of the video was amazing! And when watching it on the iPod, it fit in the screen; there was no cropping.

I am using HandBrake to convert my ripped DVDs, and I am doing a 2-pass encoding with the average bitrate of 2500kbps, so the constant bitrate is somewhere around 1400kbps, since it is variable. My video encoded is FFmpeg and the audio bitrate is set to 128kbps. If anyone gets H.264 to work in a larger screensize, please post your results...

[robg adds: I can't confirm this, but if someone could and post a comment, that'd be great -- one of my main complaints about the iPod Video was that using the TV connection would result in an awful looking film, given the limited resolution. But if you can really store and play oversized MPEG4s, that makes the product somewhat more interesting...]
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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: EatingPie on Nov 02, '05 06:55:17AM
One of my main complaints about the iPod Video was that using the TV connection would result in an awful looking film, given the limited resolution.

Yes, about the same as VHS video tape. Most people don't realize that VHS was half the lines of resolution of DVD (about 240).

-Pie

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-Pie


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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: nsousa on Jan 02, '06 12:12:44PM

Hello.
based on the data on this thread I made a pretty good Excel program/spreadsheet that calculates by iteration the best pixel/bitstream/encoding for the iPod Video 5G.

It is supposed to be used with Handbrake and I must say the quality of the movies are DVD Like.

I can post or send email if interested.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: AaronAdams on Nov 02, '05 07:14:24AM
Handbrake can be used to rip movies from DVD directly to a format that the iPod can use. It requires that you download the Handbrake source, make a change, and compile it.

Handbrake source is available via CVS, and instructions are provided on the app's download page. You'll also need to download something called jam that downloads and compiles other bits and pieces Handbrake needs. Copy the jam executable into the Handbrake folder created when you obtained the CVS source.

Next, find a file in the Handbrake source named libhb/encx264.c and open it in a text editor. Two lines need to be added in the hb_work_object_t * hb_work_encx264_init function. I placed these lines on lines 63 and 64 of the file:

param.b_cabac = 0;
param.i_level_idc = 13;


Save that file and close it. Start Terminal, cd to the Handbrake source folder, and run ./jam. Make sure you're connected to the network when you do that. After some time, a Handbrake executable will be created in the Handbrake source root that can transcode movies directly to iPod-understandable format.

Also, the bitrate in the hint is much too high. There is a rule-of-thumb formula to use to calculate the bitrate:

(width * height * FPS * Q) / 1024

width = pixel width of the picture
height = pixel height of the picture
FPS = source DVD's frames per second
Q = bits per pixel quality for the codec. A good setting for MPEG4 is .23, and a good setting for H.264 is .15. You can change those to suit your tastes.

For a 720 x 304 widescreen movie at 24 FPS, the equation looks like this:

(720 * 304 * 24 * .15) / 1024 = ~770

An average bitrate of 770 kbps will produce a very good looking movie.



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Addendum
Authored by: AaronAdams on Nov 02, '05 07:39:43AM

I forgot to mention something in my previous post. Those directions are intended to create H.264 movies the iPod can display. Handbrake already creates MPEG4 movies that are iPod compatible.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: fstop on Nov 02, '05 10:23:18AM

"(width * height * FPS * Q) / 1024

width = pixel width of the picture
height = pixel height of the picture
FPS = source DVD's frames per second
Q = bits per pixel quality for the codec. A good setting for MPEG4 is .23, and a good setting for H.264 is .15. You can change those to suit your tastes.
For a 720 x 304 widescreen movie at 24 FPS, the equation looks like this:

(720 * 304 * 24 * .15) / 1024 = ~770"

I would be very interested in knowing where this equation and constants came from. Aren't DVD-encoded movies about 30 FPS?



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: lullabud on Nov 02, '05 10:29:27AM
It looks to me like he meant "widescreen film." ;-) FPS is a variable in the original equation, 24 was just filled in for the example.

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: rpaul on Nov 04, '05 05:53:25AM
I would be very interested in knowing where this equation and constants came from. Aren't DVD-encoded movies about 30 FPS?
Most movies are encoded at 24 FPS as they were shot on film at the that speed. DVD players will do the 30 FPS conversion at playback.

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: xkalibur on Nov 02, '05 07:23:29AM
I read somewhere yesterday that it really comes down to a maximum number of pixels. I can't find the page I was on yesterday, but this Ars discussion post details it. Basically, 480x480 = 230,400 pixels. So 720x304, keeping the aspect ratio, comes to 218,880, which is less. Keeping inside that maximum I believe is the only restriction (that's if I read things right -- I don't have an iPod video [yet]).

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Careful about size
Authored by: cvk_b on Nov 02, '05 08:10:34AM

Use sizes divisible by 16 in MPEG4 to avoid screen flicker on iPod (keeping with 230,400 pixels tip).

720 x 304 - 2.35:1
624 x 336 - 1.85:1
624 x 352 - 16:9
512 x 384 - 4:3



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Careful about size
Authored by: sjonke on Nov 02, '05 09:26:40AM

Interesting, I'll have to try this. I have not been happy with the way higher-than-320x240 video looks on the iPod's display. In particular you get horizontal white lines during fast motion scenes. Will the divisible by 16 rule eliminate that? Currently I've been sticking to 320x240 because of this (which doesn't exhibit the problem), but of course that doesn't look great when played on a TV.

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--- What?



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Careful about size
Authored by: cvk_b on Nov 02, '05 11:35:03AM

For 320x240 I use H.264 from a baseline compile of HB (found in HB forums).
For those of you who are still waiting for your iPod, the height does not have to be 240 for H.264. So don't waste bits encoding 'black space' into your files. 320 by anything less than 240 should work. Your widescreen will be presented correctly. I use avg bitrate of 400 but sometimes I will go back and redo the file if the until it gets closer to a bitrate of 768.

For > 320x240 I use MPEG4 from a main compile of HB (found everywhere) following:

230,400 max pixels rule w/16 rule:
720 x 304 (2.35:1)
624 x 336 (1.85:1)
624 x 352 (16:9)
512 x 384 (4:3)
2500 bitrate (I know, overkill)
29.97/30 fps

Always 2 pass for both formats.


On a dual G5 it takes less time to encode than watch.

Hope that helps.



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Motion Screen Flicker
Authored by: EdZeke on Dec 26, '05 08:44:06PM

I just got a 60GB iPod video for Christmas. Lucky me!

I seem to get 'screen flicker' on the iPod during scenes with motion on all of my mp4 videos no matter the size, bitrate, frame rate and whether it be interlaced or deinterlaced. The h264 videos look fine, however. I'm starting to think I might have a bum unit. I haven't had a chance to watch them on a TV yet.

Is everyone experiencing this?



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: fstop on Nov 02, '05 09:08:04AM

You don't need to use MacTheRipper if you use HandBrake.



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shure. but...
Authored by: nick on Nov 03, '05 12:16:24AM

...i use mac the ripper to speed up the noisy part with the dvd inserted. using mactheripper the dvd-drive is spinning just for some 10 minutes. if you're in a hurry you can always rip the next dvd with mtr while still converting the vob with hb. and i can return the dvd sooner to my [dvd-rent-automate] - ahem - shelf.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: Loren on Nov 02, '05 09:46:38AM

I had used Handbrake to rip some DVD's (without reducing the resolution) to h264. Since I already had these rips, I then used Quicktime's Export for iPod option, and the quality on the TV was stunning there as well (even though the final file had the smaller resolution).

It might be better if I used handbrake to go straight to iPod compatible with the higher resolution, but it was pretty good as it was, so I don't know if I'll bother.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: tjmcquitty on Nov 02, '05 10:07:58AM
Based upon the comments made by Aaron, up above, I have made his edits and compiled the latest version of the source code. I did make an edit to the title bar to reflect the iPod change.

It took me a little time to get everything up and running on it, compiling lots of stuff. So, I decided to host this version until an official Handbrake release is here.

So, in the meantime, feel free to grab a compiled version at my site

Thanks again for information.

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: QuadProcessPower on Nov 02, '05 12:24:10PM
Well, it looks like I am using too high of a bitrate. I was originally using 2500 as a bitrate but my ipod wont take a few videos that are that have that high of a bitrate so I am using my buddies cluster to take the 20 vids I have converted and reduce the quality in ffmpeg.

I have ran into a few times where handbrake has just stopped converting and hung like halfway thru when doing a 2-pass conversion. Is anyone else having that problem? It might just be because I have bad DVD rips or something along those lines, but I was doing some research and I believe I saw a few other users with the same problem. Let me know.

For avi conversions check this out iSquint. Conversions are super easy with this program. But I guess you could do this in Quicktime or something else.

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: QuadProcessPower on Nov 02, '05 12:38:19PM
one of my main complaints about the iPod Video was that using the TV connection would result in an awful looking film, given the limited resolution. But if you can really store and play oversized MPEG4s, that makes the product somewhat more interesting... -robg


After converting Leon The Professional (Uncut International Version) (sweet movie by the way, much better than the crappy regular US version), we used the mini plug to A/V cable on a 30" TV and it looked great! The quality was just like watching a DVD! Action scenes were clear as daylight. no complaints so far about the video iPod!

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: ollieman on Nov 02, '05 02:53:17PM

I would suspect that apple has the eventual goal of supporting resolutions as high as 640x480 (the native resolution of digital TV) but that in order for to decode H.264 video at that resolution a much faster processor than is currently in the iPods is needed.

That being said, MPEG4 does not require anywhere near the same processing horse-power to decode (you get a bigger file, but that's the trade-off). So it seems reasonable to assume that the iPod might be capable of decoding 640x480 MPEG4 but not H.264... but then again maybe not.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: psobot on Nov 02, '05 06:21:04PM

Can someone PLEASE tell me if I can encode H.264 videos for the video iPod at 512x384? Will that play on the iPod, or will the iPod only accept MPEG-4 videos at that resolution?



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: QuadProcessPower on Nov 02, '05 06:59:26PM
Me and a fellow evil-apple user have been testing H.264 and we haven't had any luck with that format. Granted H.264 is a great quality format, our iPods will only accept the video res to be at 320x240 max at 30 frames a sec, 768Kbps.

However, if you use mpeg-4, you can crank the bitrate up to a max of 2.5mbps. I have used Handbrake to convert my ripped dvd's at 2500kbps but its a variable bitrate so sometimes it hits higher than 2500 so the iPod's wont take some videos.... So i just have it set to around 2100kbps and that seems to work with most videos. MPEG-4 seems to be the way to go if you want better res on the tv or other external devices....

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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: atl on Nov 04, '05 09:33:12AM

Also keep in mind that higher bitrates mean more frequent disk hits which means lower battery life. I have yet to hear how these things interact, though, in real-world terms. (And I won't be getting one to test with, any time soon.) Interestingly, these figures (bitrate vs batt life) are likely to be different between the 60GB and 30GB iPods, as they have different SDRAM buffers, now.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: psandiford on Nov 02, '05 07:32:37PM

Ars made mention of the WidePod video processor chip being able to handle 640x480 (http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/video-ipod.ars/6).



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: psobot on Nov 03, '05 04:10:00AM

What's the highest resolution that's been tested to work on the video iPod with MPEG-4?



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What works...
Authored by: barryjaylevine on Nov 03, '05 06:01:30AM

I have a 30GB Video iPod so all the following has been tested.

H.264 is very processor-intensive. Let it crank all night and you can convert your 2 hr+ movies. MPEG4, on the other hand, takes much less time and (at the expense of more MB) works just fine.

That "divisible by 16" comment does not seem to be applicable to the iPod. I have media that ended up with a smaller height (due to the ratio of the original not being 4:3 or 16:9) and it plays just fine on the iPod and through the A/V cable to a TV.

Don't think you have to use 2.5Mbps for all your MPEG4; at 1Mbps, it looks great and even 700Kbps works fine. Run a few tests before converting all of your media to find a few settings that work for you. Anime can be less; Gladiator should be more.

Tools that work:
- iSquint
- MoviesForMyIpod (was MovieToGo)
- ffmpegX
- Mpeg Streamclip
- QT Player Pro
(many more coming in the next few months)

DV-Stream media - The "automatic" conversion utilities wil not recognize that the 720x480 format should be treated as 640x480 so you need to use 320x240 as the target size. Solution: Use ffmpegX or, if you have QT Pro, alter the pixel size to 640x480 and then "save as reference movie" (so you don't screw up your original media). Convert that reference movie. Also note that the utilities that will handle DV require the ".dv" extension (.mov on the reference movie is okay).



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Two things in this world aren't overrated: Macintosh and Lemon Meringue Pie.



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What works...
Authored by: stuepfnick on Nov 12, '05 10:58:04AM

Hello!

I would suggest everyone to use 3ivx as the Standard Quicktime MPEG4 Encoder. It works just as fine as the Apple encoder, but produces much better results at lower bitrates. Also a fine app to do everything you need is "MPEG Streamclip" There you can do everything, directly encode from demuxed or muxed MPEG1/2, any Quicktime Video, from unprotected DVDs, crop, de-interlace, etc., etc.

It does nearly everything and is FREE!!

Also I have one question:

Apple claims 480x480 as the resolution of choice for MPEG4. But I always get streched results, when playing it on the iPod. In Quicktime, I can enter and save the correct aspect ration (720x480), but iPod ignores that.

480x480 is the standard resolution of SVCDs. There also the 480 pixels width get stretched to 720 (1.5 times the size), while the height stays 1:1.

Please tell me, how to get that aspect ratio fine!

Thanks in advance!
Stuepfnick



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: John Lost on Jan 06, '06 09:32:01PM

I just put a 1hr. 44min. main feature through MacTheRipper and then converted to an MP4 on the settings QuadProcessPower specified, (inc. a 2500 av. bit rate). The resulting file was 1.9GB in size, played on my video iPod and looked and sounded brilliant on a TV set. The screen size of 720 X 304 wasn't croppped on the iPod, and not surprisingly it just took longer to copy over via iTunes.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: joykafka on Jan 21, '06 04:56:10AM

I tried making films of 576 * 384 (3:2), 480 * 384 (5:4), 480 * 360 (4:3)... and almost most of the films are not playable on iPod and make iPod reboot. They are all playable in iTunes tho.

I am using PC to do the above. However, the discussion here is by far the most professional one, and I think this is probably where I can get a useful answer.

The most DVD to iPod converters for PC restrict the output resolution to 320 x 240, including Xilisoft, ImTOO, and many others. With Cucusoft, we can change the output resolution in the settings to whatsoever you like, but the file produced is always 320x240 if you set output file type to iPod (or mp4).

The only program I have found so far that can really produce mp4 with different resolution is Total Video Converter. I did the conversion and calculate the output resolution in respect to their original ratio and the above rules. They play wells in iTune and the quality of 576x384 looks much better than 320x240 (on my computer, and supposedly on TV). However, they will crash on iPod! Only 2 clips of 576x384 play successfully on iPod and the others, more than 15 of them, don't, not even those with lower resolution, down to 352 x 288 (CIF format).

Do anyone know the reason? Is there any other restriction we need to respect? Or, is there any good program for PC platform that can do the job like handbrake?

The relevant settings I used:
Video bitrate: 1000k ~ 1150k
fps: 29.97 or 30



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s on the iPod Video
Authored by: joykafka on Jan 21, '06 06:52:05PM

Just found a wierd solution for my own question above, which bothered me for days.

I was driven crazy at the end so that I started to try to convert dvd files to all different file types. Finally I found if the output file is "quicktime movie in the format of mp4" (using the program Total Video Converter), it can be played nicely on iPod with high resolution (576*384 for example). The format of ipod mp4, ipod mov mp4, or other .mp4 formats are not accepted by iPod tho. I don't know what are the settings behind these "definition" by Total Video Converter!

one of the successful settings: 576*483 (3:2) 24 fps,
resulted bitrate:1120 kbit
movie time: 1h05m, .
mov file volume: 548mb.
conversion time: about 50 mins or more

hope there will some nice software for Windows equivelant to handbrake and the others in Mac.



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Use higher resolution MPEG4s for home movies on the iPod Video
Authored by: trevbucky on Aug 01, '06 05:57:53AM

Hey thanks guys for all the great information. Does anyone know if you can get a better resolution on iMovies you have made when playing back an iPod video on a TV.

I imagine that the process would mean exporting a full quality .dv file from iMovie, then from Quicktime pro - exporting a MPEG4 file at higer res that 320 x 280.

regards
Bucky



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