There is a lot of confusion among vidders about what "HD" is. You'll see a lot of fanvids on Youtube with the "HD" playback option. "Watch my vid in HD!" the video description will say. What does this mean? Will the quality be that much better?
It depends. At the time of this writing (Summer of 2010) I'd guess that maybe up to 95% of all "HD" fanvids on YouTube are not "real" HD at all. What they are is regular definition video "sized up" to HD dimensions. There's a good reason why vidders do this—YouTube analyzes the frame size of each video uploaded to it, and if the vid has "HD" frame size, then YouTube bumps up quality setting for playback. While the fanvid won't be "real" HD, it'll still look a little more detailed than YouTube's "regular" (non-HD) playback setting.
Right now we're going through a great transition period—most movies and TV shows are available in HD, but some of us (with older DVD players or older TVs) are still viewing Standard Definition (SD or non-HD).
Making "real" HD fan videos (as in Blu-Ray quality or ripped from a Blu-Ray disk) is a fairly new development. And what adds to the confusion is when vidders say that their Standard Definition video (which has been sized up to HD for YouTube) is "HD." Well, is it real HD (like from a Blu-Ray disk), or is it just "HD for YouTube"? What is HD, anyway?
"Twilight" is available in SD (Standard Definition or DVD quality) and Blu-Ray (High Definition or HD quality).
These are two totally different video standards.
If you buy a Blu-Ray disk, it won't play on your regular DVD player and may not be viewable on your TV if it's older. (Blu-Ray players are backwards compatible and will play standard definition DVDs, though.)
REMEMBER: HD Blu-Ray and DVD ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS!
One looks a lot sharper than the other. You can really notice the difference when you view HD in a larger TV or computer monitor.
The image on the right (of Richard Armitage from the Sky series "Strike Back") is from a DVD rip and is SD or "Standard Definition." It looks pretty good, actually. The DVD from "Strike Back" was exceptionally high quality (considering it's SD).
The image on the right is from the HD (High Definition or Blu-Ray quality) version of "Strike Back." You might at first glance not see a huge difference, but look closer. The whiskers on his chin and around his mouth are more defined. The texture of his skin, tiny wrinkles on his forehead, the detail in his lips . . . they are more visible in the HD version. The overall effect in an HD video is crystal clear detail.
The image on the right is taken directly from a YouTube fan video (of Ian Somerhalder from the CW series "The Vampire Diaries"). The vidder rendered the vid at an HD size and it was labeled as such on YouTube. A screenshot was taken while choosing the YouTube "HD" setting at fullscreen.
The image on the left is taken from a clip made from the genuine HD version of "The Vampire Diaries."
Why is the "YouTube HD" sample so much less detailed? It's because the "YouTube HD" vid was edited with SD (standard definition) video footage which was then blown up to HD size. Or more likely in this example, the vidder probably used some lower quality downloaded AVI file (which is much blurrier than even a regular DVD rip) and then sized that up to HD for YouTube.
There's no way that an AVI (or WMV, MOV, or MP4) file that is about 350-500 MB per 45 minutes of footage is capable of giving you enough picture detail to be considered "real" HD. Neither will even the highest quality DVD rip (DVD is SD, not HD, remember?). I don't care if you scale it up to an HD size of 720p or 1080i, if it wasn't real HD to begin with, you cannot make it look that way later. It will always look like what it is—a Standard Definition video blown up to HD. It can never be any better than that.
You have to use special kind of HD source files and you have to have plenty of disk space to process your HD files to an editable format. And as it happens, here are several tutorials about just that subject!
You need plenty of disk space. When you edit a fanvid, you should use a special kind of AVI or MOV file, with a type of compression (codec) good for editing. This is especially important to do if you're editing in HD. (If you use clips with the wrong kind of compression—like say WMV, MP4, or XviD AVI—editing will probably be slow, and there might be instability and quality loss.) Right now I'm converting a new show to HD, and each 45-minute episode is about 10-12 GB in size when I'm using the ProRes LT codec (Mac only). The file size will be similar with many other "good for editing" codecs. Or, if I use the MJPEG AVI codec (following this tutorial), each 45-minute video is about 5 GB in size. (Quality is sometimes less, but usually holds up pretty well.)
A fast computer with lots of RAM is the best way to go, but you can get by with an older computer if you have to. I proved this by editing an HD video on an old 2002 PowerMac.
You have to use video editing software that supports HD. Most current software does: Corel VideoStudio, Adobe Premiere and Adobe Premiere Elements, Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, iMovie 6 and iMovie 09, Sony Vegas Movie Studio and Sony Vegas Pro.
Play at fullscreen if possible and confirm HD setting. "Breaking Inside" (Strike Back fanvid) by Heathdances (Heathra). Edited with Final Cut Pro. Heathra converted a genuine HD source to HD MOV clips with the ProRes LT codec. She then rendered her finished video out of Final Cut at HD settings.
Play at fullscreen and make sure 720p HD is selected: "Eye Candy - Damon Salvatore" (The Vampire Diaries) edited by ElviraSweeney (that's me), with Final Cut Pro. Some of the clips were converted to a higher resolution file format (ProRes LT for Mac) while other clips were the somewhat lesser quality MJPEG AVI. There is some "blockiness" in the video picture occasionally, but it's difficult to see which clips are from the higher-res ProRes LT files and which are from MJPEG.