If you’re encoding in QuickTime/Compressor, you gotta checkout x264

So, I was doing some consulting work for a client who’s currently encoding with the x264 codec. Part of the work involved benchmarking their current quality against other encoding tools I have around the office, so I downloaded the x264 QuickTime Codec (Mac) from Softonic, which was the tool used by the client. Briefly, after installing the codec, you access it as another Compression Type in QuickTime or Compressor, and it comes with its own set of advanced encoding parameters. 

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Naturally, I started by comparing the output quality to Compressor and QuickTime using the native Apple codec and found a very signficant difference on hard to compress sequences in my test file. Here are some screens – click each one to view it in a separate browser window. The difference is most noticeable on the first, which combines high detail and high motion, but it’s apparent on the others as well.

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So, if you’re currently producing with the Apple codec and aren’t happy with the quality, give X264 a shot.

Just to save myself some time answering comments, let me tell you what I’m not saying.

– I’m not saying this is the best (or most current) x264 encoder or plug-in. If there’s a better one, let me know, especially if it works in QuickTime. 

– I’m not saying the parameters I showed in the screen are optimal. More random, the ones I was testing when I shot the screen.

Some time soon, I’m going to have to include x264 in a roundup with other encoding tools. After this preliminary exercise, it looks like it will be quite a dogfight. 

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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