September 11, 2014

Is Your Footage Suffering from the Massive Difference in Export Quality Between FCPX & Premiere?

FCPX vs Premiere
A rational person might assume that the program from which you export your media wouldn't have a noticeable impact on the quality of the final image, especially if the export settings are identical in both programs. A recent test by filmmaker Noam Kroll might just teach us to think twice before making assumptions.

First, a little bit of background on Kroll's test. Having noticed that exporting from Adobe Media Encoder yielded quicker results than using the same settings and exporting from FCPX, he tended to use Media Encoder for the bulk of his exporting. When a recently exported project came out with some nasty compression artifacts, blocky rendering of certain areas, and a noticeable change in color quality, Kroll put on his detective's hat and tried exporting again from FCPX. To his, and soon to be your, surprise, the exported result from FCPX yielded significantly higher image quality with the EXACT same export and compression settings.

Don't believe it? Have a look for yourself. According to Kroll, "both FCP X and Premiere Pro were set to output a high quality H.264 file at 10,000 kbps." The image on top was exported from FCPX and the bottom was exported from Premiere Pro.

FCPX Compression Test
Exported from FCPX
Premiere Pro Export Test
Exported from Premiere Pro

In the shots above, you'll notice more blocky compression artifacts in the version exported from Premiere, especially on the lower part of the woman's face, and there's a fairly significant reddish hue that's been introduced into the midtones and shadows of the Premiere export. Here's a version of the same shot that is cropped in on the woman's face by 400%. This is where the difference between the two starts to become painfully obvious. Again, FCPX is on top, and Premiere on the bottom.

FCPX vs Premiere Pro Export Test
Exported from FCPX
FCPX vs Premiere Pro Export Test
Exported from Premiere Pro

Here's the conclusion that Kroll came to in his post.

After seeing this I can confidently say that I will not be compressing to H.264 using Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder any more. [sic] The image from Premiere is so much blockier, less detailed, and muddy looking, not to mention that the colors aren’t at all accurate. In fact I even did another output test later on with Premiere Pro set to 20,000 kbps and FCP X only set to 10,000 kbps and still the FCP X image was noticeably higher quality, so clearly something is up.

It's really difficult to speculate as to what's going on behind the scenes that's causing such a drastic difference in results between the two programs. However, what is clear is that you should take caution when exporting to h.264 from Premiere and Media Encoder. Regardless of the program that you're using, perform your own tests and make sure that the export process is leaving your media with a visual quality appropriate for the delivery medium.

The good news here is that Adobe is extremely receptive to feedback from their user base, and their Creative Cloud subscription model allows them to roll out updates with a much higher frequency than they could with the boxed version of the Creative Suite. If more people are experiencing these problems and reporting it to Adobe, chances are that we'll see an update with fixes sometime in the near future. With that said, I have no idea how Adobe handles the technical process of exporting, so it could very well take a complete overhaul of how the program encodes h.264 to fix the problem.     

Your Comment

86 Comments

Last project that I export, Adobe Media Encoder H.264 randomly tinting the black and white scenes with a light green. A few frame here, a few frame there. Switched to Apple Compressor.

September 11, 2014 at 7:23PM

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appalling. is this only with h264 exports ? or does the degradation take place with prores etc ?

September 11, 2014 at 7:31PM

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stephen knifton
owner / creative director
383

I am very curious to know what settings were used in media encoder beyond bit rate. Multipass encoding, profile/level and keyframe distance all have an impact on the final result.

September 11, 2014 at 7:49PM

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Sam M
315

yup i wanna hear that too...

September 11, 2014 at 8:42PM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2334

Isn't there a Render at Maximum Bit Depth option as well? I wonder if he used that.

September 11, 2014 at 9:33PM

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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
876

A very quick and unscientific test. FCPX encoder does seem to hang on to grain a little better in the gradients, but in this example the compression artifacts are barely different even when zoomed in 400%.
http://imgur.com/IouSQb0
I'll look into trying out a low light, high grain image. But multipass encoding can really make a world of difference.

September 11, 2014 at 10:18PM

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Sam M
315

Here is another non-scientific test. I took a 90 second ProRes422HQ clip shot on a Blackmagic Pocket. It was handheld, shallow DOF footage of a tortoise, so a decent stress test for encoding.

To check how different encoding methods were affecting the footage I used a difference overlay in aftereffects to see which pixels were different. I also added the same levels adjustment over everything to make the differences more visible.

This method DOES NOT mean that any program is better or worse. It is just a helpful way to see how each file is different from the original.

All clips were H264 at 13Mbps, I turned on Multipass Encoding for all but AME Quicktime and let the software packages determine keyframing where I could.

In media encoder I exported both Quicktime with an H264 codec as well as .mp4 H264. I also exported the same settings straight out of Premiere to see if there was any difference, the encoding was identical.

A still frame of each codec at it's "worst":
http://imgur.com/9knt5RM

A (very compressed) video showing how the encoding changes over time:
https://vimeo.com/106004792

Speaking very generally FCPX and Media Encoder are the best in this test in that they are changed the least. They do provide different results however. Media Encoder maintains clear details better while FCPX seems to hold smooth gradients.

Streamclip seems to be the only one with a substantial color shift. To be honest while watching at the actual files back to back I can barely tell the difference. To my eyes the only one where compression is actually noticeable on playback is the Quicktime H264 from Media Encoder.

September 12, 2014 at 3:56PM

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Sam M
315

I for one can't wait for h265 support to start being a thing.

September 11, 2014 at 7:49PM, Edited September 11, 7:49PM

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Scott Crozier
Director of Photography
170

Me too, Scott. Me too.

September 11, 2014 at 8:14PM

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Ty
Cinematographer, Editor, Director
546

yeah guys, me too.

September 12, 2014 at 12:59AM

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Max Monty
Photographer/Videographer
74

Me too, people, me too.

September 12, 2014 at 1:12AM

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Cosmin Gurau
Director
363

In my h265 tests it completes destroys grain, basically unusable. It just compresses it way too much. Unless you mean h265 at the Camera level?

September 12, 2014 at 5:04AM

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Tyran Nosaur
DP/Director - lots to learn
91

I have noticed the magenta shift when exporting from premiere / AME. Apparently when exporting directly from AE, this doesn't happen. Haven't tried this myself yet though. Might be worth a try if you haven't got FCPX.

September 11, 2014 at 7:58PM

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Jon du Toit
Writer / Director
242

David Kong's next video will be very informative in this case since he is using Premiere. Need to send this over to David to see what he thinks, hopefully it will benefit the video he's making.

September 11, 2014 at 8:01PM

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Gvickie Xiong
Editor/Cinematographer/Director
824

I switched from FPC7 to Adobe mainly because the export quality was so much better. I've never had a big problem with Premiere but I'm loyal to no one.

September 11, 2014 at 8:15PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
475

It's not really a mystery. MPEG specifies how to decode a file to be compliant with the standard. The encoding is implementation dependent and will therefore vary by vendor unless they share a common codebase.

September 11, 2014 at 9:36PM

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Cant believe this blasfemy, LOL

Is there a sense of mac troll in the air... LOL again

H.264 decoder encoder as always been bad (not universal) implemented in QuickTime, in macs.
To the point you need to install a different media player to decode a proper encoded video. I mean outdated, incapable of decoding high bitrates and so on.
and don't encode quicktime H264 files from premiere or AME, is also very outdated, use the dafault H264 codec that is years ahead.

As far as I Know, that haven't changed much, or maybe it did.

If you look closely the FCPX image is a little darker, that makes the error more obvious and the quicktime decoder error no mistake.
Looks like quicktime gamma bug, or any other bug.

Just as exercise try to take the same snapshots from a media player not using quicktime decoder. Try This : http://mplayerx.org/

And from AME using default H264 not quicktime one, using exactly the same specification thick the two boxes "render at maximum depth" and "use maximum render quality", and at the end select at the multiplexer tab under the stream compatibility option IPOD.

than post again, this is a clear MAC FCPX infomercial.
Also posted in other foruns

BLESS

September 11, 2014 at 10:43PM

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Interesting, I'd like to see this test run on a PC then to see if that makes any difference. It also seems like one could just export an uncompressed file from FCPX, PP, or even AVID and then just compress it in something else to prevent this from happening.

I've been using FCPX since day one, which was also the day I started editing so it was easy for me to get into it. I really love the program, but I totally understand why some people still won't use it. As much as I wanted to get excited when I read this headline, it's really not a big deal at the end of the day, because like you said, it might have to do with quicktime.

And then at the real end of the day, everything is being streamed on the Internet, so at that point I bet it would be much harder to tell the difference.

Also, I thought you made great points so I'm not sure why people down voted you. Oh, wait, it's the Internet.

September 12, 2014 at 12:50AM, Edited September 12, 12:50AM

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Julian Faras
Editor, Cinematographer, Director
373

Premiere or Encoder are not using the Quicktime H264 component in the Mac version.

MOV, MP4 or M4V are just containers.

Adobe Encoder can encode using Adobe H264 to any wrapper.
You can rename any H264 MP4 to a MOV container.

Doesn't say much.

So any news 'against' Adobe is a FCPX infomercial. What a joke. And paranoid.

September 12, 2014 at 5:49AM

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I worked in Premiere for a couple years before going to FCP X and I can confirm this is accurate. There was a perceptible difference in the FCP X h.264 export. It is definitely clearer. Another thing is that Premiere also lifts the gamma a bit on exports so they never came out quite like in the viewer. I'd always loose a bit of contrast.

September 11, 2014 at 11:48PM

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Braden Storrs
Post Production Manager, Photographer
362

Yep, I can confirm this too. I still use Compressor 3.5 to get optimum h.264 compression over Premiere/Media Encoder. Not sure why it looks better, I'm just glad I still have the option to get better results.

September 12, 2014 at 1:27AM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
698

The gamma shift I have found is actually when viewing back in quicktime. If I view a Premiere export in let's say VLC it matches my Viewer in Premiere. All exports from any of my NLE's show a Gamma boost when playing back in Quicktime. Only literature I have found on it basically sums up to the classic, "Apple knows better" explanation.

September 12, 2014 at 12:11PM

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Seth Evans
Editor
337

The gamma shift shows through even in wed uploads. It wasn't just a quicktime issue.

September 12, 2014 at 4:53PM

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Braden Storrs
Post Production Manager, Photographer
362

Ok, keeping in the spirit for what this site was built for, I'd like to ask a question. If the H264 codec is not good and you don't have FCPX, is there another export option that can be used out of Premiere that would be better to use?

September 12, 2014 at 12:07AM, Edited September 12, 12:07AM

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Michael Stewart
Directory of Photography
81

You might be able to export from PPro in ProRes and compress it in Apple Compressor as a $50 option instead of FCPX.

September 12, 2014 at 12:57AM

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I think you would want to export a full resolution master file with no compression, then you can compress it in another program, but what that other program is I don't know. I use Compressor and have custom settings for my streaming videos. Also, you could look into X.264 which is open source, but it really didn't make that big of a difference when I tried it, so I stick to my custom h.264 settings in Compressor.

September 12, 2014 at 1:30AM

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Julian Faras
Editor, Cinematographer, Director
373

I don't know about X.264 quality compared to Compressor (I work on a PC) but it's wayyyyyy better than PPro's h.264. I get smaller files with much better quality than from PPro. Handbrake is probably the easiest way to use X.264.

September 12, 2014 at 5:52AM

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Eetu Raparanta
Videographer, Photographer
74

Handbrake handbrake handbrake handbrake....frontend for X264, massively better than Main Concept's encoder that Adobe licences, especially for preserving fine detail and grain.

September 12, 2014 at 2:24PM

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Try exporting an uncompressed file AVI (I use lagarith codec) then run that through Windows Movie Maker at around 50mbps (as a WMV not MP4), I seem to get good results with that.

I edit/export through Sony Vegas

Getting the grain to hold after uploading to vimeo/youtube is another completely different problem that I have yet to crack.

September 12, 2014 at 5:20AM

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Tyran Nosaur
DP/Director - lots to learn
91

Interesting to know. Thanks guys.

September 12, 2014 at 12:10AM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1708

This video quality comparison is pretty surprising, but Adobe's apparently inferior H.264 encoding isn't a reason to switch to iMovie/FCPX. It's a reason to export from Premiere in Pro Res HQ and then use Compressor to transcode to H.264.

September 12, 2014 at 12:14AM

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the rational sollution!:)

September 12, 2014 at 2:15AM

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Riaan Myburgh
DP / COLORIST
393

Hmm? I'm not sure I could trust the opinion of someone who is STILL comparing FCPX to iMovie. :)

September 12, 2014 at 7:24AM

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Ron Dawson
Frame.io Blog Editor & Host of "Radio Film School"
271

It's funny, I was under a similar impression. My Premiere/AME exports via H264 produce really thin and poorly rendered videos. My original images are quite rich and detailed (GH2 with FlowMotion v2 hack), they look great when viewed as rushes and during editing, but really mushy and crappy after export, and especially after upload to Vimeo. Export settings were a high quality H264 VBR 2 Pass, Bitrate 10Mbps, key frame every frame, checked "Use Max Render Quality" and "Render at Max Depth" boxes. I made tests with a 50Mbps higher quality H264 export and also a high quality wmv export. Of course the 50Mbps H264 had the best image quality of the 3 but it was around 1.26gb for a 46 sec video. The wmv was exactly the same size as the 10Mbps H264 (56MB) but to my surprise, it was of much better overall visual quality, with much better detail in sharpness, resolution, details, colors, etc... viewed from Windows Media Player, Quicktime, and also from Vimeo stream. There has to be something wrong with Premiere/AME's H264 encoding process because my images end up being considerably degraded when choosing a relatively high quality H264 export...

September 12, 2014 at 12:17AM

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Benjamin Chan
Filmmaker / Video Productions
215

A key frame every frame with only 10Mbps is going to produce very poor results. Thats allocating a very small amount of data for every single frame instead of letting letting the majority of it go to the Intra frames and letting the B and P Inter frames do their work.

Intra frame recording requires a high bitrate like in the GH cameras where it has to be between 72-200Mbps to get a good result. This makes sense for capture where a camera doesn't have the time or processing power to make a nicely compressed file.

You also lose the benefit of multi frame encoding since each frame is an Intra frame there is no motion for it to re-encode to improve the Inter frames. The WMV was probably better at a lower bitrate because of the inter frames.

Also "Use Max Render Quality" only affects scaled media and as far as I know "Render at Max Depth" won't have much of an impact when going out to 8-bit 4:2:0.

Hope that helps, cheers!

September 12, 2014 at 4:05AM

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Sam M
315

Thanks Sam! Really appreciate your infos. I've heard, read and viewed a lot of different sets of advice for export settings/workflows. I myself not being very knowledgeable in that department, I try to take bits of advice here and there and test different settings, but every time I research or learn something new about export settings, it seems it's always different than previous advice I've received or found...

September 13, 2014 at 12:22AM

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Benjamin Chan
Filmmaker / Video Productions
215

what about h265??

September 12, 2014 at 12:21AM

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sebastian roland
director of photogrphy / director
81

I have also noticed a very strong shift to magenta, when exporting to H264 from Premiere. It also does a very poor job with compressing grain. Overall there is noticeable blocking, even with 2-pass and all settings set to high.

My source material was uncompressed, so it was free of any artifacts to begin with.

Very, very frustrating.

For a long time I thought it had to do with the material being rec709, not srgb. Now it looks like it may just be a problem with Adobe.

I will export my cut from Premiere as uncompressed frames and then will compress them in FCPX.

September 12, 2014 at 12:49AM

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Ed Jones
295

I've recently come across an issue between software and hardware accelerated rendering. There seems to be a difference in PP CS6. Not sure if that applies to this conversation. Has anyone else encountered that?

September 12, 2014 at 1:16AM

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Rimaz Kaleel
Cinematographer
81

I was going to ask the same thing. There's absolutely no mention of the full settings that were used, let alone whether it was hardware or software compression. Need to take this sensationalist article with a grain of salt.

September 12, 2014 at 2:01AM

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The presets and entire layout of the export dialog in Premiere Pro is a tangled mess of confusing badly organized, over-complicated junk... It's set up to practically force you to use presets, and if you want to customize your settings they make you dig in a very counter-intuitive bass-ackwards way. After Effects on the other hand is super simple and straight forward. And in my 12 or so years of experience with Premiere leading up to CS6 I had always had a lot of problems with bugs and defects rendering and exporting from Premiere. CS6 is the first version that has really worked pretty well for me in that regard.

September 12, 2014 at 2:02AM

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Angus Lyne
Filmmaker and VFX generalist
315

I would probably suggest a few more tests be done to different images. Maybe there is a specific point at which premiere fails? This is a pain for anyone who works on a pc otherwise.

FCPX 1 / Premiere 300

September 12, 2014 at 2:10AM

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Riaan Myburgh
DP / COLORIST
393

Hmmm, in 2010 I already noticed that the H.264 encoding in Premiere Pro CS was quicker but worse than in QuickTime Pro. So, nowaday I export an Uncompressed Quicktime from Premiere Pro and encode to H.264 with Quicktime Pro.
The only downside of this route is that I need to adjust the gamma of the H.264 fil, because Quicktime makes it all look dull with an adjusted 'broadcast safe' gamma.

September 12, 2014 at 2:34AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8659

I'm at a bit of a loss. I see huge vertical streaks in the face, especially 2 large ones around the back of her jaw. The blow-up looks much rougher for FCPX to me than the PP version. Am I alone in that? Honestly - the first images look worse to me.

September 12, 2014 at 2:35AM

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You shouldn't be using a NLE to compress your video footage.
These are programs for editing without the powerful compression engine that software specifically designed for that might have. Regardless if it is FCPX or Premiere Pro.

I edit with Premiere pro, export Apple ProRes 422 HQ (which, to my understanding, is almost lossless), and then I import to Handbrake to compress to .mp4 using the x264 codec. I seriously recommend this workflow. Compression is much better and file size remains small.

September 12, 2014 at 2:55AM

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Which program/plugin do you use to export ProRes 422 from Adobe Premiere?

September 12, 2014 at 3:08AM

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Erwin Hartsuiker
CineVideo-NL videographer
722

If you have the codecs installed (there is a workaround in OSX to install them without buying Final Cut) then all Adobe video apps can encode prores.

September 12, 2014 at 3:31AM

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Sam M
315

September 12, 2014 at 3:51AM

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I agree. One shouldn't use the NLE to compress your footage. Only when you need to make a quick conversion to view the film. I work in Edius and always export a cineform mov file to Go pro Studio. And there I compress it to h.264. I have found go pro studio to be very, very good when it comes to compressing files. Best result I had this far. And much better then directly from any NLE (Premiere and even Da Vinci). And there are many alternatives, for example Handbrake.

September 12, 2014 at 4:51AM

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Martin Karlsson
Director, Director of Photography, Writer, Composer/Musician/Vocalist, Editor
81

I assume that the tester used the Mac version of Adobe Premiere Pro. Could you also run the same test with Adobe Premiere Pro on a Windows Machine and FCPX on a Mac and get the same result?

September 12, 2014 at 3:57AM

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Ludwig Villiger
Indie Filmmaker
94

Glad I made the switch quite early on

September 12, 2014 at 4:04AM

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Tebogo Dube
Editor
81

Some times the same configuration, have different results with adobe encoder with H264. I don't know why. Maybe it's inestable and the FCX more stable for compression.

to anyone happened something like this?

September 12, 2014 at 4:37AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7645

Interesting, but c'mon ya'll are silly. I would encourage people to do their own tests and decide for themselves, but a crappy story is still crappy whether it was encoded in FCPX or AME. Just sayin'. :)

September 12, 2014 at 4:40AM

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Adobe uses really bad h264 internal encoder settings that can not be changed. Unusable.

I always render from Premiere to a master (ProRes or DNxHD) and then compress it using x264, a free h264 encoder and is much bater.

As x264 has no interface by default, you will need some intermediate:

1. x264 Pro is a great plugin that adds powerful x264 encondig to for AME and Premiere, but is expensive.

2. I use Handbrake as a x264 GUI to compress my masters to h264, and it is all free.

September 12, 2014 at 4:57AM

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When exporting and scaling down, Premiere does a terrible terrible job too, I lost a customer once because of it. Its was from RED to 720/576 PAL QT.MOV

September 12, 2014 at 5:53AM

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Christoffer
Director
74

It's actually really good if you use GPU acceleration...I ran a test and it's better than After Effects's scaling. But the CPU scaling algorithm's are pretty bad.

September 12, 2014 at 2:37PM

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This is interesting. I switched from FCPX shortly after its release as I was getting a different look to the exported footage in different players. To clarify, my Quicktime player matched the FCPX monitor. The You Tube or Vimeo playback looked slightly darker and more saturated. I realised that VLC player matched the web video players as did the Adobe Premiere Program monitor. All very confusing for me, but I moved to Premiere so that I could have constancy with my NLE and the playback online.

Of course, playback the Premiere generated files in Quicktime and they look 'sat up' in brightness, and lower in saturation!

The most recent update of Premiere CC seems to have changed the quality of the export (Certainly when using the Vimeo Preset). I noticed lots of blocking and compression artefacts similar to the screen grabs in the post here. Perhaps something has changed in this CC 2014 version? A more scientific test is needed. I seem to remember that the artefacts got worst a minute into the playback, almost as though it started off ok, then degraded.

September 12, 2014 at 6:40AM

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Scott Matthews
Creative Director
74

Cheers to FCPX, that's all I gotta say LOL. Adobe lost all my love and support with this Creative Cloud and to see it not properly exporting stuff just makes me feel better about abandoning them.

September 12, 2014 at 6:56AM

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Chop N Shoot Films
Director / Cinematographer / Editor
79

I have been using Premiere Pro for long. I am happy with the results when exporting. although you need to have into consideration not only the the frame rate but other settings such as Multipass encoding, profile/level and keyframe distance. Usually by selecting multipass encoding, keyframe distance = to the video frame rate (examples: for a 25 fps video use 25 for keyframe distance, for 24 fps video use 24 for keyframe distance), the right profile/level (check this for more information: http://blog.mediacoderhq.com/h264-profiles-and-levels/ ), the video comes out just great. Also make sure that you the "use previews" option is deactivated when exporting from Adobe Premiere.
Also, if you are working with high bitdepth sources or if you did color grading and/or applied effects in the video clips in the timeline, you can enable "Render at Maximum bit Depth" for better results. But be aware that if you applied effects in the clips in your timeline, you must make sure that these effects work at 32 bit once there are effects that do can't handle it and will produce strange results.

"Enabling the Max bit and Max render only needs to be done when you are exporting. They both serve different functions:

1) Max Render aids in the scaling/conversion process only. My understanding is that you never need to enable the Max Render Quality (MRQ) unless you are exporting in a format/pixel ratio different from your original video. For example, when rendering a 1080p timeline out to a 480p file format, you'll want to use MRQ to ensure the best scaling with the least amount of artifacts and aliasing. If you're exporting at the same size you're working with, DON'T enable MRQ. It will just cost you time and CPU. Its only function is to do a high quality resizing of your work.

2) Maximum bit depth increases the color depth that your video is working with and rendering to. If you're working with video that has low color depth, then I don't believe it will matter. However, if you're working with 32 bit color on your timeline in PPro and/or After Effects, using lots of graphics, high contrast values, or color gradients, you may want to enable this option. It ultimately depends on the color depth of your source material."

Have you take into consideration these parameters when exporting or you just selected a preset and change the bitrate?

One thing I realized is that exporting directly to H264 takes too long. In some projects I did where I did color grading and applied other effects such as image stabilization, it was much faster to export the project in Uncompressed AVI 10bit (V210) and then use this master to export to h264. The results were pretty good and it was much faster than exporting to h264 directly from the timeline. It save me a lot of time and my imagination or not, the results in h264 looked better.
Cheers

September 12, 2014 at 7:04AM, Edited September 12, 7:04AM

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Diogo Pessoa Andrade
Filmmaker. Cinematographer. Editor. Digital Colourist.
81

Useful info Diogo - thank you. I'll play with some tests over the weekend.

September 12, 2014 at 7:31AM

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Scott Matthews
Creative Director
74

Thanks so much for this!

September 12, 2014 at 2:26PM

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Gvickie Xiong
Editor/Cinematographer/Director
824

I encountered a similar problem with mpeg2: Macro blocking, and really bad interlacing. For that reason I export a prores Master, then have Episode Pro, render the deliverables.

September 12, 2014 at 7:28AM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
398

I always export out of premiere prores 444 and then use compressor or QuickTime 7 for h264 versions. Not only for quality but overall compression time, even with exporting twice, is faster. The benefits of premiere for me outweigh using fcpx just to export an h264. A good thing to be aware of though.

September 12, 2014 at 9:06AM, Edited September 12, 9:06AM

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Paul Trillo
Director
74

This makes me curious to see how well resolve lite would handle this in comparison to AME, and Compressor?

September 12, 2014 at 9:32AM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
398

This makes me curious to see how well resolve lite would handle this in comparison to AME, and Compressor?

September 12, 2014 at 9:32AM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
398

what kind of container were you using? .mov or .m4v? .mov s generally look a lot better.

September 12, 2014 at 11:22AM

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bart
Cinematographer
74

This is old news. You Should not try to export a file from your editing program, it's not made for this. Different programs use different algorithms and this will have a quality impact on the encoding. Usually the longe it takes, the better the results. To me, compressor is still the best... Well, the best compressor.

September 12, 2014 at 12:17PM

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Rodrigo Prata
Director of Photography
131

I've had the same experience, to the point where I stopped using h.264 in Premiere entirely. I export out ProRes(HQ) and then use mpeg streamclip for my h.264 files. It's a shame that a 7 year old program does an exponentially better job at exporting h.264 files than the newest Premiere, I do hope Adobe addresses this quickly.

September 12, 2014 at 12:25PM

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Eric George
President 5-Seven Media
74

Really? Any time I've compared the two at comparable settings streamclip has had poorer results. More artifacts, less detail, color shift, not to mention being painfully slow compared to how fast Media Encoder can be.

September 12, 2014 at 1:23PM

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Sam M
315

There are two ways to export H264 files from Premiere: 1) with a Quicktime .mov wrapper, and 2) with a .mp4 wrapper. For some reason, the quality differs with each wrapper. "Maximum Render Quality" and "Maximum Depth" also effect the quality. In my personal tests, using a .mp4 wrapper, with maximum render quality turned off, and maximum depth turned on yielded the best results in Premiere. Without knowing what settings that Kroll used for these, his comparison test means nothing.

September 12, 2014 at 1:47PM

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From Apple's website: "Final Cut Pro is designed to use Apple’s ColorSync color management for display and processing, producing accurate and consistent color from import through render and export. Colors look the same whether you’re playing back media in Final Cut Pro, Motion, or QuickTime Player."
An in-depth article on how this works here: http://www.philiphodgetts.com/2011/09/fcp-x-color-management-secret/

September 12, 2014 at 2:53PM

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Alexander Max
Cinematographer
81

Very interesting. I would like to see more comparisons with other compression engines, it seems like this is something that we overlook but could easily inspect by a simple zoom in on a still. A good cautionary note.

September 12, 2014 at 3:49PM

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Matt Simon
Director, Director of Photography, Editor
175

I was unsatisfied with the quality of h.264 exports from premiere. I believe the MainConcept encoding codec utilized by Premiere and Media Encoder is to blame. I switched over to exporting DNxHD master files from Premiere on my PC. Afterward I compress that master file with handbrake for a quick and easy way to use the x264 codec. The results are worth the extra step.

September 12, 2014 at 7:45PM

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Myke Scaffidi
Editor/DP
177

Please if anyone can help me with this or point me to the right direction on exporting better that would be great because I always feel the images im getting from my 7d look beautiful but when I export it looks like shit thanks in.advance!

September 12, 2014 at 9:07PM, Edited September 12, 9:07PM

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Render all sequence in ProRess codec, use "Match Sequence Settings" to preserve all image quality. Put the big file in Encoder or Compressor and choose your delivering...Same results in both programs...PS: I'm braziliam whit pooooooooooor inglish.

September 12, 2014 at 10:55PM, Edited September 12, 10:55PM

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Gregori Bastos
Filmmaker
81

On premiere, i found that exporting at a constant bitrate of 25 mbps with maximum bit depth and maximum render quality toggled on produces a practically lossless final product (compared to original DSLR footage).

September 13, 2014 at 11:09AM

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Patricijus Petrukonis
Cinematographer
154

I would be interested to know if the H264 from Premiere was wrapped in an .mov or not. I find that selecting QuickTime as the container file and using h264 as the compressor produces less noise and compression artifacts into projects.

September 14, 2014 at 3:50PM

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Dale Sandberg
Editor and Motion Graphic Artist
81

OMG! Great to see a test like this! I have been saying this to myself recently that the export h.264 is so horrible, even at the high settings. I did a test comparison with ProRes 422 (LT) and the difference is night and day. I no longer have been using h.264 out of premiere. It was killing all types of footage from different cameras, from Red to DSLRs. Great test to prove this point!

September 14, 2014 at 5:15PM, Edited September 14, 5:15PM

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Brian Roth
Cinematographer
161

So question I just recently did some export tests, to test how grain holds up to the H264 GOP algorithm. I was unaware just how important it is to select your profile in h264 export. And those options are only available if you export from the h264 module, not the quicktime encoded h264 module.

Did you make sure the profile was set to "High", and the level set to "5.1". This actually makes a huge difference even if the bitrate is the same.

Just curious. Also, does anyone know away to turn of GOP in h264... Almost like having an Intraframe version of the codec? I've tried using key frames but I get the cleanest results with key framing every 24 frames. That's just my experience though.

September 15, 2014 at 4:51PM, Edited September 15, 4:51PM

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Jordan Service
Director / DP
81

This article is simply false. There is not enough information on the various setting available for both programs. Nor is there file size information. I just did two quick exports on identical MacBook Pros, one with the basic 4k YouTube setting in FCPX, one in Premiere CC. If you tab between them, you forget which one you are on.

http://youtu.be/CP09Oz-xlb0

http://youtu.be/LXWYl6Ec5JI

I can surely see the noise and artifacting inherent in h264, but I can't say one is better than the other, and more so, I often can't tell if I am switching back and forth unless I verify.

I will say that FCPX was faster in this particular encode, though I wasn't using the MPE or anything on Premiere.

I am frankly a bit disappointed in NoFIlmSchool for what feels like a blatant view grabbing headline with no real substance.

It's time to get back to work, folks. Make good things. Both systems will get it done.

September 15, 2014 at 6:11PM

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Jeffrey Morgan
Director, Cinematographer, Editor
89

When I export in Media Encoder and Premiere as a MOV, with h264 as the codec, there is a quality slider from 0 to 100. Whatever I set this slider to, the size of my final movie does not change. I have this issue for over a year on both my MacPro and MacBookPro. Reported it to Adobe, but the problem is still there...

September 18, 2014 at 5:02PM

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Freek Zonderland
Director of Photography / Producer / Editor
74

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