Best export settings for high-quality compressed 4K or UHD video?

Community Beginner ,
Feb 18, 2022 Feb 18, 2022

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Hi all, what would you say are the best export settings for creating a high quality compressed 4K or UHD video file, i.e. something for upload or easy playback by a client? HEVC (H.265) with Match Source - High Bitrate? Thanks!

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Adobe Community Professional , Feb 22, 2022 Feb 22, 2022
Check out the Adaptive Bitrate options instead. Those are more modern presets that are also better suited for higher resolution videos than the older presets. H.265 is great, but you have to be aware of potential lack of support by some devices, but if you're uploading to YouTube or any other streaming service that supports H.265 then it's not a problem. You'll get a roughly 40% decrease in file size at the same bit rate, but this higher efficiency also comes at the cost of slower encoding times...

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 18, 2022 Feb 18, 2022

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How much motion is there in the footage? How much 'high-frequency' (read: fine sharp details) does the sequence have? Those types of things are heavily influenced by bitrates and other settings. So a video with little motion, and very little high-frequency data can take a rather low setting and be fine, where a video with motion and/or high-frequency data would look horrid.

 

Neil

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 22, 2022 Feb 22, 2022

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Hi Neil, thanks for your response. This is already giving me new things to consider. There isn't a specific project I had in mind when asking this - rather just looking for some general rules of thumb to make sure I'm following best practices. Most of my work is 2D/3D animation and probably in the high-frequency realm as you noted, with lots of little details, gradients/vignettes that could cause banding with low settings, rapid motion, a camera view flying thorugh a 3D or 2.5D space, etc. So it seems like I'd probably want to default to higher quality in general, particularly given that we and clients have never had an issue with the "high bitrate" preset.

 

Based on what you've said, I'm hoping you can provide your input on a couple follow-up questions:

  1. In general, is HEVC (H.265) better to use than H.264 for 4K and UHD exports? Any pros/cons to consider, i.e. is there a chance that some clients with slower computers would have difficulty playing back H.265? I just find I'm defaulting to H.264, and want to see if I should be shifting over to H.265.
  2.  For the majority of use cases with high frequency detail, if I'm using either H.265 or H.264, do you feel that Media Encoder's "Match Source - High Bitrate" is a good standard for high quality? Or is it too high, or not high enough?

 

Thanks again!

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Feb 22, 2022 Feb 22, 2022

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Check out the Adaptive Bitrate options instead. Those are more modern presets that are also better suited for higher resolution videos than the older presets. H.265 is great, but you have to be aware of potential lack of support by some devices, but if you're uploading to YouTube or any other streaming service that supports H.265 then it's not a problem. You'll get a roughly 40% decrease in file size at the same bit rate, but this higher efficiency also comes at the cost of slower encoding times due to more horsepower being needed. However, Hardware Encoding is now supported on H.264 and H.265 in AME, so the GPU does the heavy lifting and encoding is super fast.

 

Neil gave a bunch of great reasons why it's hard to answer the "is it good/high enough?" question—because it's going to be different depending on the content. I would give the Adaptive High Bitrate options a go with H.265 and see if they look good to you; they'll provide a good starting point for high quality files.

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 22, 2022 Feb 22, 2022

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Thanks David for all of this valuable info. Much appreciated. I will definitely look into the Adaptive High Bitrate options going forward. Cool to know about the new support for Hardware Encoding as well.

Based on your and Neil's input, these may be my general rules of thumb for high quality compressed 4K and UHD exports of animation/motion graphics going forward:

  • H.264 - for exports going directly to a client, producer, tester, etc., who may not necessarily have the best hardware for H.265 playback
  • H.265 - for exports being uploaded to a supported streaming service, or shared with a fellow editor/animator as a WIP (to be replaced later with a higher quality format)
  • Preset - start with "Match Source - Adaptive High Bitrate", tweak as needed (i.e. checking high-frequency detail)

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