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First steps #5: rate your sources
Now you have found several sources to use for your project, but don't know which one could be the best to use... you must learn how to rate these; experience will help a lot, but if you have not much, here you could find some hints...

Audio/video sources

UHD-BD: the best source up to date: video resolution up to 3840x2160, bitrate up to 128mbps, 10bit color depth, HDR; audio tracks are usually lossless compressed, 7.1 channels - Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, plus all the others available on normal BDs.

BD: still one of the best source; video resolution is up to 1920x1080, bitrate up to 40Mbps; audio tracks could be uncompressed - PCM - or better compressed with a lossless codec to spare a lot of space without losing quality - Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS-HD MA, Dolby TrueHD - or lossy encoded - Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX up to 640kbps, DTS, DTS-HR, DTS-96, DTS-ES up to 1536kbps - all of them up to 8 channels.

HD-DVD: even if today is a dead format, and almost all titles are available on BD, sometimes there are few titles better than their BD counterparts; video quality is very high, with bitrate up to 30Mbps; audio is similar to BD, with DTS-HD MA at a lower max bitrate, but Dolby Digital Plus at almost double in comparison to BD.

D-Theater: another dead format, this time on tape; few titles released, almost all (if not everyone) on BD, but sometimes there are some little jems to discover; good video quality, bitrate around 20/22Mbps but only MPEG2; audio could be AC-3 or DTS 1.5Mbps.

HDTV: a lot of titles still not present on BD or other HD discs, and many times if they are available, the TV version is different or has different grading or cropping; quality could be really high - ATSC is 1080i MPEG2 at 19.2Mbps, while audio has usually lower quality than other HD sources.

DVD: the most successful digital disc format, present everywhere; very often the same title has different features depending on editions and/or country; quality is good, but not HD; video could be up to 720x480 for NTSC and 720x576 for PAL, anamorphic or not; audio is almost everytime Dolby Digital, but sometimes DTS, usually at half rate, 768Kbps.

VCD: widespread in Asia but not so common in the western countries; some titles could still be available only on this format; video quality is low, MPEG1 352x240 for NTSC and 352x288 for PAL at 1.15mbps fixed bitrate; audio is MPEG stereo 224Kbps at 44.1KHz.

SVCD: rarer than VCD, its predecessor, but with higher quality: video is MPEG2 480x480 for NTSC, 480x576 for PAL, up to 2.6Mbps, audio is usually stereo, but could be up to 6 channels, MPEG up to 384Kbps

Digital streaming: quality varies, from bad SD to very good HD - that could be 720p or 1080p - to great UHD; video bitrates are quite low in comparison to BD and HDTV, but often high enough to obtain good quality; audio could be multichannel, but again usually not on par with BD.

LD: very important format in the past, and with so many titles is quite easy to find out some title never released on DVD or BD; when captured using good players and capture device, quality could be quite good; video resolution could be up to 564x480 for NTSC and 564x576 for PAL; audio could be stereo, analog or PCM 1.44Kbps, or multichannel AC-3 384Kbps or DTS 1.44Kbps.

VHS: once the king of home video, discontinued since few years; sometimes it could be the only way to obtain some particular title; video captured with good VHS, or better S-VHS player or recorder, could be up to 352x480 for NTSC and 352x576 for PAL; audio mono is the norm, but many movies has a stereo Hi-Fi audio track of good quality.

CED, VHD: super-niche formats, video quality is somehow better than VHS but worse than LD; audio could be comparable with VHS Hi-Fi stereo.

Of course, a SD source could be hardly better than an HD one, but how to choose between sources with similar quality? There are some things to take in account: eventual problems like noise reduction, edge enhancement, grain (or the loss of), color grading... if every aspect is similar between the two, bitrate could be a good quality indicator; at the end, you could always use the following formula to know if the bitrate of your source is good enough...

A good digital video should have a bitrate equal or better than

width x height x FPS x motion rank x constant = final bitrate in bps

where the constant should be equal or higher* than
  • 0.045 for HEVC
  • 0.070 for AVC
  • 0.075 for VC-1
  • 0.116 for MPEG-2 (hardware encoders)
  • 0.136 for MPEG-2 (software encoders)
*CBR or VBR average bitrate

and the motion rank is equal to
  • 1 for low motion (e.g. news)
  • 2 for medium motion (e.g. movie)
  • 3 for quite high motion (e.g. action movie)
  • 4 for high motion (e.g. sport)
Let's make an example: you have two sources of the same title, with same resolution but different frame rate - of course the same motion rank, because the title is the same; they are compressed using two different codecs, so to know which one is better you should find out what is the needed bitrate for a good quality video.

Source 1 is 1920x1080, 23.976fps, motion rank 2, encoded in AVC; to have a good quality the bitrate should be:
1920 x 1080 x 23.976 x 2 x 0.07 = 6960328bps = ~6.9Mbps

Source 2 is 1920x1080, 29.96fps, motion rank 2, encoded in MPEG2; to have a good quality the bitrate should be:
1920 x 1080 x 29.96 x 2 x 0.116 =14413012bps = ~14.4Mbps

we discover that source 1 has an average bitrate of 7.4Mbps, while source 2 has a constant bitrate of 19.2Mbps; to compare the real bitrate with the value of a good quality video, we could do the following:

source 1: 7.4 / 6.9 = 1.07
source 2: 19.2 / 14.4 = 1.33

so we now know that source 1 is 7% better than the good quality required by the formula - just a little bit better, while source 2 is 33% better, a whopping one third... I'd go with the latter, and you?

Audio-only sources

Cinema DTS: sometimes the home video audio track has a different mix in comparison to the theatrical one; using Cinema DTS CD-ROMs, you'll be sure the audio will be THE SAME of the one heard in the theaters! It has a fixed 4:1 compression, 16bit 882Kbps, and when decompressed has about the same quality of home DTS tracks at 1.5Mbps.

DVD-Audio: exceptional quality, uncompressed PCM or lossless MLP; up to 24bit, stereo up to 192KHz, while multichannel 5.1 up to 96KHz.

SACD: on par with DVD-Audio, lossless DLD - uncompressed 5.6Mbps, up to 24bit, multichannel, frequency up to 176.4KHz.

CDDA: good quality, linear PCM 16bit 1.4Mbps stereo 44.1KHz.

HDCD: linear PCM 1.4Mbps stereo 44.1KHz; compared to CDDA, resolution is increased to 20bit.

DTS-CD: multichannel up to 5.1, compressed at 3:1, 44.1KHz, up to 20bit.

Vynil record: depending on the quality of hardware used, it could be captured at 24bit up to 192KHz to retain even the most minute details.

Compact Cassette: quality is quite low; I think that a 16bit 32KHz at around 1Mbps capture will be more than adequate.

MiniDisc: usually recorded at 44.1Khz 16bit, like CDDA, but compressed with ATRAC-3, around 4:1.

Same considerations written about video quality should be taken in account for audio; eventual noise, dynamic range etc. could make the difference; would you prefer a 24bit 192KHz track with some noise, or a perfect 16bit 44.1KHz with no noise floor?
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
Thanks given by:

                   p/i ratio max luma   max chroma  chroma       codec(s)
                             resolution resolution  sub & bits

Ultra HD TV 8K     - p   16/9  7680x4320  3840x2160  4:2:0 10b      HEVC
Ultra HD Blu-ray   - p   16/9  3840x2160  1920x1080  4:2:0 10b      HEVC
Ultra HD TV 4K     - p   16/9  3840x2160  1920x1080  4:2:0 10b      HEVC
Ultra HD download  - p   16/9  3840x2160  1920x1080  4:2:0 8b/10b   HEVC   AVC
Full  HD Blu-ray   - p   16/9  1920x1080   960x 540  4:2:0 8b       AVC    VC-1   MPEG-2
Full  HD HD-DVD    - p   16/9  1920x1080   960x 540  4:2:0 8b       AVC    VC-1   MPEG-2
Full  HD broadcast - p/i 16/9  1920x1080   960x 540  4:2:0 8b       AVC    MPEG-2
Full  HD D-VHS     - i   16/9  1920x1080   960x 540  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
Full  HD download  - p   16/9  1920x1080   960x 540  4:2:0 8b       AVC
Full  HD broadcast - i   16/9  1440x1088   720x 544  4:2:0 8b       AVC    MPEG-2
      HD broadcast - p   16/9  1280x 720   640x 360  4:2:0 8b       AVC    MPEG-2
      HD download  - p   16/9  1280x 720   640x 360  4:2:0 8b       AVC
      HD D-VHS     - p   16/9  1280x 720   640x 360  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      HD MUSE LD   - i    5/3 ~1080x1035  ~500x1035 ~4:2…0.5:1…0.25 analog Y/C
      SD PAL  DVD  - p/i 16/9   720x 576   360x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC DVD  - p/i 16/9   720x 480   360x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD PAL  DVB2 - p/i 16/9   720x 576   360x 288  4:2:0 8b       AVC
      SD PAL  DVB  - p/i 16/9   720x 576   360x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC ATSC - p/i 16/9   704x 480   360x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD PAL  DVD  - p/i  4/3   720x 576   360x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC DVD  - p/i  4/3   720x 480   360x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD PAL  DVB  - p/i  4/3   720x 576   360x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD download  - p/i  4/3   720x 480   360x 240  4:2:0 8b       AVC
      SD PAL  DVB  - p/i  4/3   544x 576   272x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC ATSC - p/i  4/3   640x 480   320x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD PAL  LD   - i   16/9  ~580x 576  ~140x 576  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD NTSC LD   - i   16/9  ~560x 480  ~120x 480  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD PAL  LD   - i    4/3  ~580x 576  ~140x 576  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD NTSC LD   - i    4/3  ~560x 480  ~120x 480  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD PAL  SVHS - i    4/3  ~530x 576  ~ 40x 576  4:2:2          analog Y/C
      SD NTSC SVHS - i    4/3  ~530x 480  ~ 40x 480  4:2:2          analog Y/C
      SD PAL  SVCD - p    4/3   480x 576   240x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC SVCD - p    4/3   480x 480   240x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD PAL  CVD  - p    4/3   352x 576   176x 288  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC CVD  - p    4/3   352x 480   176x 240  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-2
      SD NTSC VHD  - i    4/3  ~330x 480  ~100x 480  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD PAL  CED  - i    4/3  ~330x 576  ~ 55x 576  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD PAL  VHS  - i    4/3  ~330x 576  ~ 40x 576  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD NTSC CED  - i    4/3  ~330x 480  ~ 55x 480  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD NTSC VHS  - i    4/3  ~330x 480  ~ 40x 480  4:2:2          analog comp.
      SD PAL  VCD  - p    4/3   352x 288   176x 144  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-1
      SD NTSC VCD  - p    4/3   352x 240   176x 120  4:2:0 8b       MPEG-1
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
Thanks given by:

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