Lesson of the Week: What’s the Optimal Data Rate for Mezzanine Files?

When you upload a file to an online video platform (OVP) or user-generated content (UGC) site, the mezzanine file you create will be transcoded into multiple ABR rungs. Given that video is a garbage-in/worse-garbage-out medium, the inclination is to encode at as high a data rate as possible. However, higher data rates increase upload time and the risk of upload failure.

It turns out that encoding a 1080p30 file above 10 Mbps delivers very little additional quality and that ProRes output may actually reduce quality as compared to a 100 Mbps H.264-encoded file. To identify the optimal data rate for mezzanine files, I tested two files, Sintel and Tears of Steel, to two full encoding ladders.

This 13-minute lesson, which will replace the existing lesson in Streaming Media 101: Technical Onboarding for Streaming Media Professionals, reviews the workflows and encoding strings used, as well as reviewing mezzanine file requirements for YouTube, Brightcove, and Vimeo. You can access the video below.

Here’s the lesson.

About Jan Ozer

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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. I am a contributing editor to Streaming Media Magazine, writing about codecs and encoding tools. I have written multiple authoritative books on video encoding, including Video Encoding by the Numbers: Eliminate the Guesswork from your Streaming Video (https://amzn.to/3kV6R1j) and Learn to Produce Video with FFmpeg: In Thirty Minutes or Less (https://amzn.to/3ZJih7e). I have multiple courses relating to streaming media production, all available at https://bit.ly/slc_courses. I currently work as www.netint.com as a Senior Director in Marketing.

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