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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:23 AM   #1
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Compressor Question

I exported my video out of After Effects using (I believe) the H.264 codec. I'm very happy with the results I've got but now I need to further compress the video for web streaming. I have two questions right now:

1. The file I have right now is about 12.7 gigs straight out of After Effects using the H.264 codec. The video is about 12 minutes 30 seconds in length. I'm extremely happy with the quality of the video but I was just wondering if that is a rather large file size for roughly 12 and a half minutes worth of video?

2. What codec would you recommend using to further compress the video in Compressor with the intent of streaming on the web. The video really only needs to be further compressed to less than 5gb but the smaller the file size, the better, without significantly sacrificing quality.

Any ideas you guys can share would be greatly appreciated! I could just do this by trial and error until I find what works best but considering I have to wait an hour or longer for it to compress each time, I think my time is better spent on the forums for right now ;)
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 06:56 AM   #2
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Re: Compressor Question

If you search here on DVInfo, you'll find this is a frequently asked and answered question. You need to find some How-To articles on web video so you can master this aspect of video production.

You have a very large file. Of course it looks good. IQ follows data rate (the number of bits per second). You can calculate the data rate of your video by doing the math that converts the file size in bytes to the number of bytes per second of video based on it's 12:30 duration. Multiply that by 8 (number of bits in a byte) and you'll have the data rate in bits per second.

Just picking a compressor isn't enough. Frame size, frame rate and data rate are things you specify for the compression that affect quality. Go to the web service you plan to use and find their recommended settings for those. For Vimeo, they recommend a 1280x720 5 megabits per second H.264 file. Anything you upload bigger than that is going to get compressed to that anyway so you are only wasting upload time making it larger.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 08:23 AM   #3
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Re: Compressor Question

12 gbs for 12 minutes is very big for h264 if you are working in HD formats. Sounds more like ProRes. You should be very aware of the codecs you are using. Nothing wrong with ProRes, in fact that's the type of codec you should use to master a finished product anyway. After making a master file you can make compressed files like h264 which should be significantly smaller yet the same frame rate and image size.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:09 PM   #4
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Re: Compressor Question

Yea, the 12gb file is in H.264 codec, I know what you're saying though it seems big for H.264. Currently that is my plan is to use that file as a master file that I can compress to various other codecs to find what works best for a given application of the video.

I was finally able to get the results I wanted with a smaller file size and also a much smoother workflow than what I was originally trying to do. I ended up getting the file down to about 400mb and it looks practically just as good as the 12gb file. I don't know if 400mb is still on the high side and someone who really knows what they're doing could get it even smaller but for me and what I plan to do with the video I am very happy with the results. Also, I'm very knew to this aspect of video production and I have learned quite a bit with the research I've done in the past few hours so that is valuable to me in itself.

Thanks guys for the responses! It's much appreciated!
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:40 PM   #5
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Re: Compressor Question

@Austin, keep up the learning. Compressor is a very useful tool and not hard to learn. When you duplicate an existing compression preset from Apple, there's an Inspector window where you can adjust to be what you want. Clicking on the second tab of the Inspector lets you access the audio and video compression settings. CLick on the button for video and you can set the data rate. (see attached)

That is the number you can adjust to make files smaller and bigger at the sacrifice of image quality. While 5000kbps is the recommendation for HD, if it's just a rough draft, I will sometimes use 2500kbps. Notice also, you can also choose between a fast and slow algorithm. That won't affect the file size but rather, the time it takes for the job. Of course, faster won;t be quite as good as slow/ But you may not see the difference.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:43 PM   #6
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Re: Compressor Question

My advice, don't make h.264 files that big. h.264 was designed to save room for electronic delivery, if you are making it bigger than editing codecs then you are defeating h.264's purpose and in addition not gaining any quality. Use ProRes which is a frame-based codec that has much lower processor requirements than h.264. You'll find that your subsequent renders will go much faster and the quality will be very high.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:48 PM   #7
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Re: Compressor Question

Thanks Les for the awesome explanation of how to adjust the data rate! That's VERY helpful! Greatly appreciated.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 04:56 PM   #8
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Re: Compressor Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
My advice, don't make h.264 files that big. h.264 was designed to save room for electronic delivery, if you are making it bigger than editing codecs then you are defeating h.264's purpose and in addition not gaining any quality. Use ProRes which is a frame-based codec that has much lower processor requirements than h.264. You'll find that your subsequent renders will go much faster and the quality will be very high.
Well taken. That makes sense. Basically my workflow has me editing a portion of the video in Final Cut then taking it into After Effects for some touchups and polishing. Exporting out of AE, I'm not sure if ProRes is an option considering that is an Apple codec (correct?). I actually ended up toying around in Media Encoder and found that I can export a saved AE file through Encoder without needing to actually export right out from After Effects. I stumbled upon a stock codec they had called VimeoHD which produced the 400mb file for me.

I'm still going to try a lot of different methods until I get a better feel and understanding for what I'm actually doing rather than just blindly selecting codecs and HOPING it turns out how I want. I want to understand why I'm selecting the given codec and tweaking the parameters as I am. I think I'm slowly getting a better understanding.
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Old December 24th, 2011, 06:17 AM   #9
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Re: Compressor Question

After Effects can read ProRes without any problems, both on PC and Mac.
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Old December 24th, 2011, 09:49 PM   #10
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Re: Compressor Question

AE can export in ProRes. Just make a new export preset in AE the first time and you are good to go.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 03:57 PM   #11
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Re: Compressor Question

William - only on Mac. It will read ProRes on PC though.
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Old December 25th, 2011, 06:36 PM   #12
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Re: Compressor Question

Yes, however Austin says that he is working in Final Cut so the PC output issue isn't a problem here. What would be a good codec if you are working in AE on a PC?
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Old December 26th, 2011, 04:12 PM   #13
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Re: Compressor Question

Personally I would recommend Avid DNxHD (if you have it and your FCP supports it) or Cineform (if you can afford it). For less critical jobs you can use DVCProHD, just be mindful about its limitations in terms of color and resolution. That said, most of my animations I export in 8-bit uncompressed 4:2:2 or Quicktime Animation with alpha channel, because they are few, short, and storage space is not really an issue.

ProRes is nice, however it introduces its own share of noise upon the first encoding. Not much, but it's noticeable enough for some critical applications.
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