Handbrake and the iPad: The Settings

Handbrake 0.95 is out with an iPad preset pre-loaded. See the review here.

[See an updated post about handbrake settings and how the new iPod Touch and Apple TV effect which preset you can use for multi device video.]

Avatar came out yesterday so I decided to test a few settings and see how they play on the iPad.These are not scientific, just trial and error. I had already discovered that my general cross-platform settings worked pretty good. I start with an iPod preset, raise the resolution to 720 width in picture settings, raise the constant quality to 65%, select iPod 5G support. Those settings result in a decent sized file with a good image that plays on all Apple video capable devices (iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, and iPad)

But both the iPad and Apple TV can do higher resolution. So I tried tried three different larger resolution settings. I ripped about 6 minutes 43 seconds in three different higher resolution settings: My base iPod preset settings with loose anamorphic and with strict anamorphic, as well as the straight Apple TV base setting (with minor changes)

All three worked on the iPad. Not surprisingly, the higher resolution settings I tested looked better, sharper, on the iPad.

Both the loose and strict anamorphic ended up with a resolution of 853×480 (as opposed to a 704×400 on my cross platform setting) and were 211MB in size. I could tell no difference in video quality between these, and both were sharper than the cross platform setting I use.

The Apple TV setting (base one with no changes except I deselected large file size and added iPod 5G support) was also 853×480 size, but only 150MB. It looked almost as good as the larger file sizes on the iPad.

The clips on my Apple TV (hooked to 26″ HDTV) loaded just fine. The larger files were just a hair sharper. On my small screen I had to pause the clip to see it. When playing there was virtually no difference. I don’t think there is any visual difference between the loose or strict anamorphic settings I used and they are just a hair better than the basic Apple TV settings.

If size is a factor, I would use the base Apple TV settings with the slight changes I made. They will look great on the iPad (and iPhone 3GS or 4. See update below). These will not work on the older iPhone or iPods, because they can’t do wider than 720 pixels

Below are some screen shots. I tried to capture the same frame, but hopefully it’s close enough to see the differences. In all images, the quality was very similar.

Apple TV on the left, iPod Preset Anamorphic loose on the right. The color seems deeper on the Anamorphic

Similar capture. Same.

More of an action shot. iPod preset on top, Apple TV on bottom. Again the colors appear deeper in the ipod preset. The iPod preset is a bit sharper.

All three settings. Although smaller, the basic iPod preset looks similar to the Apple TV.

Bit more of an action shot. In this one the cross-platform iPod preset looks more like the larger version.

I wonder if it is the 5% extra in the “constant quality” setting that allows for the deeper colors.

At any rate, unless you are pausing the video, there is virtually no difference to my eye. If you want your videos to play on all Apple devices, stay with my iPod preset. If you only need them on the iPad or Apple TV (and newer iPhones and iPod Touch 4th Gen), I would use the slightly modified Apple TV preset.

Update: After some further testing, a file ripped from the basic Apple TV setting, with “iPod 5G Support” checked will give great performance on an iPad, Apple TV, and iPhone 3GS. I will load it on my new iPod Touch 4 Gen when it arrives and test it through the new Apple TV when it ships, but it should be compatible with those as well. It will not play on an older iPod or iPhone model.

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Handbrake Settings for iPad

[Update: Check the link at the bottom for a more in depth look at handbrake settings for the iPad.]

Since I did quite a bit of testing between handbrake’s 0.93 and 0.94 builds, I wanted to report my experience with movies I ripped and the iPad I’ve been using. Later, I may try to see how high a resolution file you can rip for the iPad…

I have watched a few videos on the iPad. Anything from iTunes looked better than the handbrake rips. I don’t know what they use for compression, but digital copies of movies look very nice, even on the larger iPad screen. I have heard that the iPad can handle higher resolution video like the Apple TV. For me, I like my video to be cross platform, so I still rip for the highest quality of the lowest capability device: the iPod.

Movies ripped on the iPod settings I described in previous posts (iPod/iPhone preset, raise resolution to 720 width in picture settings, 65% constant quality, 5g support.) work just fine on the iPad. I did notice that films ripped in 0.93 settings showed more artifacts than those in 0.94. I actually re-ripped a couple in the later release to help them look better for later viewing.

A more in depth look can be found here.

Link to handbrake.

Living with the Wifi iPad

A little over a week ago we bought a 16GB WIFI iPad for the church. We use it to monitor planning center online during the service. The small form factor makes it perfect for use in the pew, where we need up to date information on service flows.

In the mean time I have been using it during the week. no sense letting it sit around, right? I am trying to see if it is really something I can use on a regular basis. So I have been living with it for a couple of weeks.

I took it on a trip and discovered that I will have to have a 3G model. I was at a trade show with very limited wifi, and it was very frustrating. Many of the apps I use are net driven, and the lack of connectivity really hampered me.

But the battery power was amazing. I know that people are getting 10+ hours of life out of one charge, but it’s still unbelievable. I watched 2 movies, played games and read a couple of chapters on the flight. Then, after using it for a couple of hours the rest of the day, I accidentally plugged it in to charge on a GDI outlet that had tripped. It did not charge at all overnight. I was still able to use it the next day and have over 40% battery left. My iPhone has nothing on that.

Since then I have been trying it out during meetings. I downloaded a couple of note taking apps, and have transferred my handwritten notes to the iPad. So far I am OK with it. My laptop battery barely lasts an hour and a half. I was in a 4 hour meeting today and had plenty of battery life left.

I do miss Flash. Part of my job is reviewing video clips we might use in worship. Most sites display these in Flash, which leaves the iPad right out. It’s definitely not a computer replacement.

As a media consumption device, I don’t know if it has an equal. Game apps, video apps, music, and movies are a lot of fun. The screen is large, but the device is not too big. Oddly, the 4:3 aspect ratio has grown on me. A widescreen aspect ratio would make the iPad feel strange.

I hate fingerprints on the screen. It’s pretty easy to clean, but when the screen is dark it looks bad after I’m done typing. Still, with the screen on they are barely noticeable.

I am still getting to know the iPad. I like what I know so far.

Skewed Samples in the Decision Matrix

A friend is considering changing phones. It’s down to the Android or the iPhone. He has done smart thing, and talked to some people that have had both. He spoke to a few people that had an iPhone and switched to the Android. To a person they all said they preferred the Android phones.

I asked if he had talked to anyone that has switched from Android to an iPhone? He had not. His sample was skewed.

Anyone who decided to leave a iPhone is necessarily unsatisfied with it, and looking for something else. So from the start, they have an issue with the iPhone (or AT&T). If you only talk to people who have left the iPhone, you will naturally hear why they left and what they like better abut their new situation. In order to have a more consistent sample, you should also talk to people who have switched from a Droid to an iPhone. Or at least, who are happy with the iPhone.

But we make this kind of decidion all the time. The church gets ne email complaining, and we change a whole ministry program, when in reality the email representing the views of maybe 1%. Assuming the complaint is legit and something we should be concerned about, we must be careful to weigh issues and complaints, making sure we know the temperature of our people.

When we began using a jib in the service, we placed it to one side of the Worship Center; The same side where most of the pastoral leadership sat. We had just a few complaints, when I saw the end coming. We moved the jib to the other side, and complaints slowed.

For us, it did not matter which side we used. In fact, the new position gave us a better angle on some instruments. It did matter that decision makers were hearing complaints on a regular basis., from people who had access. The complaints represented a very small number of people who were affected by the jib’s position, but they had an audience. Many had been sitting in that location for years and knew the ministers well.

If I had polled the pastors who sat on that side, I’m sure they would have all said that the congregation is distracted by the jib’s movements, and does not want it in the service. Their sample was skewed, and decisions made from it were not representative of the real situation. Most people were fine with it, but a vocal few were not. We forestalled a confrontation by moving the jib elsewhere. Since then, we have had one real complaint.

It is easy to fall into the trap of skewing samples. I can probably find people with any range of views you want. Like this, hate that, want the other thing. But, we must be smart about who we are listening to, and who they are listening to.

Planning Center Online and the iPad

I had intended to swing by an Apple store today and check out the usefulness of an iPad with a tool we use every week in worship. But one of the guys who works with me went ahead and bought one, and volunteered to let us test it out over the weekend.

First, allow me to drool over the iPad. I want a 3G model, but wow, I don’t want to wait. Fast, heavier than I expected. I wanted to go sync it to my apps and content and play, but it wasn’t mine, so I didn’t.

OK, we use Planning Center Online for worship service planning and execution. It is great. The music team puts the plan into the site, and we can access it, add to or modify the entries as needed. You can see a to-the-second plan for the flow for a service. Those of us involved in multiple services each week know that a pre-planned service (still allowing for the Holy Spirit to move, of course.) is critical. I am a firm believer that the Holy Spirit can move Monday through Friday just as easily as minutes before a service.

Every week we prepare production documents so that the dozens of people we use to execute the services can see what is planned. We used to create these in Excel, but Planning Center allows us to print off a very similar document without extra work. So every week the latest versions of the services are printed on Friday. Every week there is at least one change to one of the three services we have. Some weeks, we have multiple changes. With printed flows, that means we either write notes, or reprint. Many of us have taken to following planning center on our computers, if we are in a place where we can. Now, even if there is a change during the service, it can be updated and those online can immediately see the new flow.

But one position needs up to date information more than any, and it’s not in a place that can really carry a computer around inconspicuously. We have a stage manager that sits with the pastor, and others who will be a part of the service. It is critical that they be able to see what is coming next, and know that it is accurate. We have tried the iPhone app, but the level of detail available on that sized screen leaves a lot to be desired.

Over the weekend we utilized the iPad to monitor Planning Center from that position. We found that we liked the actual website more than the iPad app. We could not run the flash-based “live” function, obviously, but having access to dynamic changes we a big help. Plus, we attached a word doc of the lyrics and sermon notes to the flow online, and then were able to open another “page” that the stage manager could switch between. They were able to follow both documents on the iPad with relative ease. And the size of the iPad was not obtrusive. It was even in a leather case, which made it look like a Bible.

I have heard that Planning Center Online is working on another way to view the “live” function that will work on an iPad. That will be an added bonus.

I see the church purchasing a wifi model very soon.

300k iPads sold Day 1, 1,000,000 apps downloaded, 250k iBooks

Apple released some news about the sales of the iPad and related apps.

The 300,000 number includes pre orders,but the apps… that’s 3+ apps per iPad. I don’t know how many are free or pay, but that’s a good number.

Steve Jobs is, of course, optimistic about the future:

“It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world — it’s going to be a game changer,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement.

iPad Apps of Interest

Some apps for the iPad I find interesting:

ABC. For free you can stream the content you find on the ABC website. Want to watch the episode of Lost you missed?

Netflix. Stream movies from your Netflix account. The iPad joins other devices like Blu Ray players in the ability to access an watch content through your Netflix subscription.

iDisplay. Engadget reports a display extender. You can wirelessly extend your computer desktop onto the iPad screen. Works with iPhone too. Intro price of $5.

Marvel Comics. $2 per issue. If you like comic books, this should be one you get.

Scrabble. I have been using Words with Friends for my “Scrabble-like’ needs. But the iPad version of the real game allows you to sync iPod Touch/iPhones to the game in play, and use them as tile trays for the game board on the iPad. Nice. $10.

Brushes ($10) or Sketchbook Pro ($8). Odds are one of these will be “the” painting app to have on the iPad.

Mini Apps. It’s a multi tasking work around. From within the program you can do several tasks at once. At first just browser, weather, calculator, sticky notes and NASA’s Image of the Day, but more are promised. Supposedly you can do multiple browsers and notes at once. $1.

Boardbox. A collection of 15 board game components. There is no computer opponent, just the pieces you need to play with others. $4.

Protecting Big Spring

Last week I made a trip to Big Spring, just outside of Van Buren, Mo. The United States largest single source spring, it empties into the Current River a short distance away. It’s a great park. Interesting water, decent trails, and good picnic spot. After lunch we walked down the Slough Trail, which had signs describing something very interesting. As a native Missourian, I find it natural that people in the Show-Me-State would name such a large water feature “Big Spring”.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, the Current River was at flood stage, and threatened to spill over its river bed, and into the spring itself. There was speculation that the river bed would simply shift into that track, destroying the natural beauty of the spring. To prevent this from happening, five dikes were built to stop the overflow of the river. You can still see the remains of a couple of them today. They protected the pure water of the spring from the flooded, dirty water of the river. Yes, that water would eventually merge with the river anyway, but for a short time, the spring would remain a source of pure water, a beautiful peaceful place.

It made me wonder what lengths we go to protecting what is pure. What dikes will we set up in life to protect what is pure from what is polluted? Will we just accept what comes from a flooded world, or will we take steps to block the onslaught of impurity in our lives? When we see innocence threatened, will we do the work to protect it?