Final Cut Pro X Tutorial: How to Get Better Encoding Results by Jan Ozer

When you compress video for on-demand streaming, you primarily care about three things; quality, quality and… let’s see, oh yes, quality. If you’re been encoding H.264 video with Apple Compressor using the codec that Apple provides, you definitely haven’t been optimizing the quality of your video. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to install and use the x264 codec within Apple Compressor, which will improve the quality of your encoded video, particularly at lower data rates.

Note that this tutorial will focus exclusively on using the x264 codec within Compressor; it’s not a comprehensive tutorial on how to use Compressor to produce H.264 files. For an overview of using Compressor, check out this video tutorial “Producing H.264 files for Flash distribution with Apple Compressor.” It’s not directly on point, in that it covers using the Apple codec, not x264, but it will provide an overview of Compressor’s encoding workflow. For an overview on H.264, check out the tutorial “Understanding the Key H.264 Encoding Parameters.” STRONG>About H.264: What It Is, Why You Should Use It

Let’s start with some background. H.264 is a video standard adopted by multiple standards organizations, and there are multiple H.264-compliant codecs available on the market, including Apple’s, x264, and others. Significantly, x264 is an open source and free option that’s been rated as the highest quality H.264 codec for the last few years in the highly-regarded codec comparison published annually by Moscow University.

In contrast, the Apple codec lacks critical features like support for the High profile or CABAC entropy coding, and produces much lower quality than x264, though the difference is most noticeable at aggressive encoding parameters. For example, Figure 1 shows how the x264 codec compares to Apple’s when encoding my standard 720p test file to 800kbps. To be clear, I produced both in Compressor, the file on the right using the Apple codec and the file on the left using the x264 codec. read more...

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.