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Old November 30th, 2010, 12:27 PM   #1
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The Codec Conundrum

Did a search for Codec's in this forum and I can't find a definitive thread for what I'm looking for. if there is one, my apologies. Please guide me to it.
My situation is that I'm contemplating migrating from FCP to Premiere. In FCP I know exactly what codec's to use to get the results I want. My question is with Premiere, what is your formula for success? In your opinion, what is the best codec for the following conditions:

1. Creating a movie that is for web release (Vimeo, utube, etc.)?
2. Creating a movie for Standard DVD release.
3. Creating a movie for Blue Ray Release.
4. In your opinion what codec maintains the highest quality yet uses the lease amount of disk space?
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Old November 30th, 2010, 01:56 PM   #2
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IMO...

1) The codec that best preserves the quality of your video while enabling you to remain under the upload size limit of the video hosting service and enabling the upload to complete in a reasonable amount of time.

I *personally* have no qualms about sending YouTube a 2Gb 35Mbit/s AVC .m2ts file and going to bed while the upload completes. Why not? If time is no object (and it generally isn't for me), then why seriously sacrifice quality *before* uploading? The video hosting service will inevitably recompress the video no matter what you do, so why incur artifacts on top of artifacts? It makes little sense. If you're in a hurry, though...

2) and 3) The answer is largely dictated by the media. DVD is MPEG-2. No real choice there. Blu-ray offers MPEG-2, VC-1, and AVC (H.264). AVC is generally acknowledged to be the most effective, at least if the fact that the vast majority of Hollywood Movies on Blu-ray are in AVC is any indication.

4) This depends more on what "quality" means to you than the previous three. If, for example, your purpose is archival and your material is 4:2:2, you might not want a 4:2:0 format like AVC for Blu-ray as you'll be throwing out half your chroma resolution. Will you then be kicking yourself when Blu-ray's successor offers 4:2:2? Maybe. I don't know.

Best,
Aaron
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Old November 30th, 2010, 01:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
1. Creating a movie that is for web release (Vimeo, utube, etc.)?
2. Creating a movie for Standard DVD release.
3. Creating a movie for Blue Ray Release.
4. In your opinion what codec maintains the highest quality yet uses the lease amount of disk space?
Many of the output options and codecs are very similar if not exactly the same between FCP and PP. The biggest difference I found between the two is that Final Cut has you export to Compressor, and Premiere uses Adobe's Media Encoder. They're both very capable programs though, and you'll get equally good results out of either one.

For standard DVDs, I typically start off with Adobe's SD DVD preset (MPEG-2) and then tweak the data rate accordingly to maximize quality. I have yet to produce a Blu-Ray disc, so I'll leave that to someone else. Anyone that has ever requested HD always wanted a web version.

So, for just about everything else, I'll use H.264 and adjust the data rate and/or resolution to match the requirements of the project.

Is that what you're looking for?
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Old November 30th, 2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Here is my opinion for each question:

1. H.264
2. MPEG 2(dvd spec)
3. H.264, MPEG 2
4. I use H.264 whenever possible. The quality is good and file sizes are smaller than MPEG 2. The downside is that H.264 generally takes longer to encode.
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Old December 6th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #5
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Thank you gentlemen. One more question for you. If you had to choose between H264 & AppleProRes, which would you choose and why?
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Old December 6th, 2010, 10:44 PM   #6
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H.264 and Apple ProRes are two different kinds of codecs meant for different purposes.

Apple's ProRes is an Intraframe codec used for post-production. Being Intra-Frame, it stores information on each individual frame of video. It also has 4:2:2 color space, which makes it suited for color correction and pulling chroma keys and whatnot. Because it stores all this information, you're looking at a typical data rate of 147Mb/s and increased storage capacity requirements.

H.264 is a distribution codec. This means that it is best suited for the final encoding process when creating a master Blu-Ray disc or sending our final project out to the web. H.264 uses a Long GOP encoding technique that stores a limited number of frames per second. The data between these frames is interpolated and requires more processing power to decode. H.264 also uses 4:2:0 color space, which really makes things like color correction, compositing, and chroma keying difficult.

So what you would do with this is ingest your video as ProRes or transcode to Prores, do all your editing, and then make your final render out to H.264.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 10:38 AM   #7
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Awesome Shawn, Thank you.
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