Video tutorial: Producing H.264 video for Flash distribution with the Adobe Media Encoder

This is the first in a series of video tutorials on producing H.264, in this case detailing how to do so using the Adobe Media Encoder.

Here's someĀ  background information explaining some of the encoding decisions made in the tutorial. First, the project involved a concert produced solely for streaming, so I shot in progressive mode. Hence no mention of de-interlacing. Since music was involved, I encoded in 128 kbps stereo, where usually I produce in mono at 64 kbps or less.

I was producing for Flash distribution, so I encoded using H.264 and chose the F4V extension, rapidly becoming the standard for H.264 Flash output. The video will be distributed via progressive download (hence 2-pass VBR) solely to computers, and is not targeted at iPods or other devices. For this reason, I use H.264's high profile. Had I wanted to produce a file that would load on an iPod, I would have used the Baseline profile. Of course, had I been producing for a streaming server, I likely would have produced in CBR mode, though that's not essential.

If all this sound totally foreign to you, check out the streaming media primer, here, and the Producing H.264 Video for Flash: An Overview, here:


Comments (6)

Said this on 6-27-2009 At 12:21 pm
hi, excellent site
plz can you tell me why did you use level 4.1 ?
is there any difference between main and high profiles in quality ... and is there any difference between various levels when set to same bitrate ? (using AME, so no advanced settings visible)
Jan Ozer
Said this on 6-27-2009 At 02:53 pm

Levels are important for devices because they define profiles to specific resolutions and data rates. Computers can play all levels of the High profile, so you don't need to worry about levels when producing for computers.

However, Premiere Pro will open an error message if your level is too low to support the selected encoding parameters, so you need to choose a level that's high enough to support the rez/data rate that you selected. That's why I choose a preset that's larger than my target rez/data rate - it makes sure that Levels won't be an issue.

The biggest quality difference is between the Baseline and Main/High, much less so between Main/High.

There should be no difference between levels because they don't apply any additional encoding techniques, like profiles do. See this page for more on that.

Said this on 6-27-2009 At 05:24 pm
thanks a lot! ... i have one last question i have AVCHD cam with 17Mbps .. so exporting for example 1080i High 4.1 file with VBR1 target-18 maximum-50 is pretty much all i can do for full quality backup of my project right ? i mean all i can do without huge loseless clumsy formats ... coz i made some precise compare tests and there was slight loose of noise and some micro details in footage ... but this is due to the re-encoding process right ? (for example original PNG screenshot has 1,9MB and screenshot of re-encoded footage has 1,5MB (same timecode) ... looks big but in fact its maybe even not visible in real playback, just in compare of screens layers .. but still its there)
Jan Ozer
Said this on 6-30-2009 At 02:36 pm
I would think quality would be visually indistinguishable from the original at those parameters.

on the other hand, if i was producing this video for the Queen, and disk space wasn't an issue, i would use an intermediate format like Cineform, ProRes, or even the lagarith codec. Your instincts are correct - it's never a great idea to recompress into a format like AVCHD.
Said this on 7-1-2009 At 09:53 am
thanks again ... iam finally satisified with my understanding of H264 :) ... this site gives a serious amount of information about H264 on the internet ... i dunno why i didnt find this earlier x) .. great job
Jan Ozer
Said this on 7-1-2009 At 11:18 am
Thanks. I just added the H.264 stuff over the last couple of weeks. Another couple of tutorials (Compressor/Episode) to come soon.

Thanks for the good word!

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