>Is there a preferred format these days for a final HD file?
Depends on the client (network), but many want ProRes or DNxHD in file form. Some like Broadcast MPEG, some want JPEG2000. But if from FCP...ProRes is the standard.
>And for interlaced source material, how do I produce a final file without combing?
If it is for broadcast on TV...and the original is interlace, then the master should be too. Because when aired where it was intended, TV, that interlacing won't show up. Sure, you see it on the computer screen, because computer monitors don't do interlacing. But when aired, it'll be fine.
>Of course, if I produce a tape output, played on a tv monitor, there is no combing displayed.
See, you knew that. Now, if the intention is to display something on the web or a computer display, just compress your master into another format and deinterlace. Because you'll need to compress anyway for display on the web. But for air...keep it interlaced.
>No-one, of course, wants a tape any more, or even a DVD or a Blu-Ray, so how should I produce a computer file without these artifacts?
When I delivered tapeless to networks, and the footage was interlaced...we provided what they asked for...DNxHD or ProRes HQ. One wanted OP1A MXF in the XDCAM format. But if the original was interlaced, we kept it interlaced because, again, it was going to air on TV, and TV plays interlaced just fine.
I'm fairly familiar with Compressor for making DVDs and lo-res viewing copies, but not for making mp4s - I've always gone the QT route. So some help with what to put in those settings boxes would be useful.
I understand the broadcast route as Shane has explained, but for a corporate client who wants to project at a conference, is mp4 the way to go?
What is the difference between choosing MPEG-4 (.mp4) and QuickTime Movie with MPEG-4 as the codec (.mov)?
What is the significant difference between Basic and Improved mp4?
I can see the de-interlace choices in frame controls, which are fairly self-explanatory, apart from the anti-alias and details controls. Do I need to know about those?
Many thanks for your help.
the ability to customize an mp4 in compressor is very limited, but you can output an h264 quicktime with almost any setting and then bring the resulting file into mpegstreamclip (which is available for free) and do a save as an mp4. This is just changing the file wrapper and is almost instaneous.
I really don't know much about the various flavors of mp4.
I get great results deinterlacing without fooling with the anti-alias and details controls. Do some searching here. I remember someone giving me some guidance on using these controls. If you can't find it, post back and I'll do some searching.
As far as providing files for a corporate client for projection, it's always a good idea to ask if they have any specs. If at all possible send them files to test BEFORE their presentation. At this point, unless they're using outdated equipment, you can get great results using the apple: formats: quicktime: h264 preset customizing the video settings in the encoder panel by adjusting the quality slider to high and they should (I said "should" so be warned) play smoothly.