Psa>> h264 !-= h264

Just another misconception about h264/h265 e.t.c:

I always see this in client spec sheets and Its really a foreign concept to many, not saying you dont know (alan) but many probably do not:

Many assume that a 20mbit/s h.264 looks exactly like another 20Mbit/s h.264 But PLOT TWIST this is not in fact the case.

there are massive differences in different encoders AND different settings within that encoder, so lets say you create a h264 in ffmpeg/shutter encoder with NVENC low latency/quick and with X264 software set to 2-pass max quality - both set to 20Mbit/s you will see a difference!

So you can do a better job than many and make those juicy high quality h264s, yes it takes a tiny bit more encoding time, and is more for final delivery but nontheless lets talk about h264 encoding settings and my personal recommendation for those High Quality H264s . I am sure someone will come up with even more better settings if I just act like a know-it-all so here we go!

I like to use shutter encoder , it uses ffmpeg/x264 which is generally accepted as pretty much the best encoder for h264 (go away main-concept fanboys) also shutter encoder is free

its pretty simple, choose a target bitrate for HD I go 25Mbit/s for UHD I go 50Mbit/s generally, if its a Action film with a cut every like 5 frames i would go even higher.

then max quality and 2-pass and off you go :smiley:

the rest I just leave on default , BUT there is a very cool setting called “set GOP to” what this does is setting the “keyframe distance” in those codecs like h264 they use intraframe compression which makes scrubbing difficult, if you want to have a bigger but scrubbeable h264 you can set the GOP to 1 , this makes every frame a real image, making h264 very inefficient so you also need to increase the bitrate to more like 75-100Mbit/s for HD and 250 ish for UHD , this is also called all-I mode , most people just use prores if they need it but for some usecases this can be nice.


What does flame use? Tech-geeking not withstanding, my choice of an h264 encoder is based on its flexibility in my workflow. No one has ever complained about the quality. Shutter encoder has some great features, like being able re-patch audio tracks, but other than that, I find it cumbersome with organization. Media Encoder, though not perfect, gives me far more management options.

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Two things.

Some time ago I discovered that, at least with handbrake, using 10 bits as output, makes (with good quality settings, 25 -30 Kbs) visually identical from the original. Checked even with a difference. Even with very good color fidelity. A good point to send dailies or wips where this is critical.

I didn’t test 2024.2 yet, but I think I saw some h264 10b preset.

The other one.

I read that the 2 passes is a myth to get more quality, and that it is actually focused to get the desired final size.

I’ve found over the years that keyframe distance is the key to getting a good encoding results, especially with lower bit rates. It’s an option with media encoder too. I’ve always been confused why it’s never set with some of the out of the box presets (especially the high quality ones).

My default go to keyframe distance is matching the frame rate of the video. For example, most deliverables for me are 23.98, so I set my keyframe distance to 24.