I think I know what the difference is: one works and the other doesn't, at least for playback on my setup (see Playback, below). Apart from that, there appears to be no detailed description of what these two options do, either in the Premiere PDF or anywhere online. Unless you count this as description (p471 of PDF):
For single-layer or dual-layer Blu-ray Disc, select either MPEG2 Blu-ray or H.264 Blu-ray.
Really informative stuff (please forgive my sarcasm). So, other than peering at the settings that come up, I can't work out why there are two H.264 options.
I have a 60-second test sequence, consisting of an animated still with audio and titles, 1920 x 1080, 23.976 fps. I exported two versions, at maximum quality settings:
1. H.264: VBR, 2 pass, Target 32.00 Mbps, Max 40.00 Mbps, AAC, 192 kbps, 48kHz, Stereo.
2. H.264 Blu-ray: VBR, 2 pass, Target 25.00 Mbps, Max 30.00 Mbps, PCM, 48kHz, Stereo.
(1) came out as a 20.7 MB, mp4 file, 2.8 Mbps. Played in Quicktime, VLC and Premiere.
(2) came out as a 20.6 MB, m4v file, ? Mbps. Would not play (video or audio) in QT or VLC. In Premiere, the file lacked audio.
Why are there two H.264 options? In what situations do you use one and not the other?
The bit rates of the exported files are very low, less than 10% of the target. Is this because low bit-rates are all that was needed for maximum quality for this simple file?
Why doesn't the H.264 Blu-ray file playback properly? VLC can normally play almost anything you give it. Even Premiere couldn't play a file it had just exported.
I've uploaded both files to a 40 MB zip file on MediaFire.
3. Change extention to mts. It will play fine in vlc.
The reason it doesn not have audio because it is intended for disk.
The audio file comes seperately.
I've brought this question back into play because it is still not adequaltely answered: what is the difference in the end result between the two H.264 options, and why are they offered? What is the advantage of having two options?
On a related note: I've burnt my first test Blu-ray by going via Encore and straight out to an ISO file, then burnt via Disk Utility (OSX). Worked first time. I couldn't believe it. What I also can't believe is how difficult it is for me to export the same 1920 x 1080 sequence and have it generally playable. I like to know what my setup is missing, and if it is missing something, why isn't it included in the Master Creative Suite?
The problems are:
1. When I export to H.264 both my Blu-ray players won't play the sound, maybe because AAC is the only option when I export as H.264.
2. I looked at exporting as Quicktime, but I couldn't see a 1920 x 1080 progressive option.
I'm stuck. Which of the options in Premiere offers me the ability to encode as 1920 x 1080, and include sound that is playable from a USB stick on a Blu-ray player? I have an Oppo, and even though the list of supported formats is amazing, it won't play the sound.
What is the advantage of having two options?
The H.264 presets all create a directly playable muxed file, whereas the H.264 Blu-ray presets all create three files needed for authoring - video, audio, and chapters.
Thanks Jim. I haven't played with chapters yet, but I think I'm beginning to have some understanding. I will be suggesting to whoever that your straightforward explanation be included on page 421 of the manual. But there is still some things I don't follow. I'll make some statements. I'd appreciate it if someone could please indicate if they are correct or not:
1. The H.264 option exports a multiplexed files (video and audio mixed together) that is playable in any player that supports the video and audio codecs.
2. During the export, the video and audio files are encoded as per the export settings.
3. No chapters or other Blu-ray info is included.
4. The H.264 Blu-ray option exports three separate files: the video, the audio, and chapter markers.
5. The video and audio are encoded as per the export settings.
6. The video and sound files will be separately playable in any player that supports the codecs, but no player can play video and audio at the same time because they are separate files.
This brings up a few questions. I'm trying to understand not only how to use Premiere, but the reasons things are done in certain ways.
If both options re-encode the video and audio, why does the Blu-ray option separate the video and audio? Why not multiplex them? What is the advantage of having separate files? Is it because the files may be destined for editing elsewhere, and separate files makes for wider compatability?
Regarding playing a video from a USB stick in a Blu-ray player, Jim said: "I use the appropriate Blu-ray option". I don't understand how my Blu-ray player can play video and audio that are contained in two separate files. I haven't tried it, but it seems to me it just wouldn't work. Don't I need to use the (multiplexed) H.264 option with appropriate codecs?
Authoring is best done with separate files, so that's the way PP exports them for disk authoring. In fact, Encore will have to demux any combined files before burning anyway, so it's best not to use them.
The player won't play separate files, that's why I also said change the muxing to TS. This way you get one file, but with Dolby Digital audio which should play fine from USB.
Thanks again, Jim. I'm struggling through the manual, word for word, but I must say it becomes difficult for a beginner when options are not mentioned in the manual. I don't think to even look for them if they are not described. "Multiplexer" does not exist in the PDF. The whole Export section needs to be better explained and all options mentioned.
Given that there is the option to turn off multiplexing, it seems to me the only difference between H.264 and H.264 Blu-ray (neglecting any codec differences for the moment) is that H.264 Blu-ray can export chapter information, whereas H.264 cannot. Is that correct?
Never looked into it that deeply. Mine was just a casual observation of the export differences.
Which of the options in Premiere offers me the ability to encode as 1920 x 1080, and include sound that is playable from a USB stick on a Blu-ray player?
I use the appropriate Blu-ray option, but change the audio from PCM to Dolby Digital and change muxing to TS.