Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding the Right Video Encoding Software

Finding encoding software for your video post production workflow.
Encoding software for your post production workflow.
These days, you can't be a video editor without at least being familiar with some of the options for encoding video. I'm not talking about Getting the Perfect Video Encode, but finding the fastest and best quality solution for your post production workflow.

I recently finished a project that included cutting a series of four videos for a client. This meant that all four videos had to be encoded and uploaded each and every review cycle. The videos ran in length from 15 to 25 minutes, so the most time-consuming part of the workflow was the preparation for the review cycle.

The videos were edited using the Avid Media Composer and because of some initial problems with my go-to encoding software - Sorenson Squeeze, I ended up using Adobe Media Encoder. Unfortunately, Adobe Media Encoder does NOT accept QuickTime reference movies. This might have something to do with Adobe Dynamic Link, I'm not sure. Anyhow, instead of exporting the incredibly quick QuickTime reference movies, I had to add about 10 minutes to my workflow for each video as I exported "Same as Source" QuickTime.

Rendered videos always export faster, so before I exported my four videos, I used the batch render trick that I discussed in Top Ten Avid Editing Tips and Tricks - 2013. The longest video of the bunch took about 45 minutes to encode in Adobe Media Encoder, and after reading a blog by Noam Kroll, I decided It would be best to find a tool that was both quicker and better quality than Adobe Media Encoder.

Initially I had planned to update my Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 with Squeeze 9, but i ended up giving the trial version a spin first. While I was trying out Squeeze 9, I ended up comparing all of the encoding software I use most frequently in a very un-scientific benchmark test.

These tests were done using the 25 minute 1080/24p DNxHD video from my recently completed project. All the encodes were done in 1-pass VBR at H.264, 1080/24p 10Mbps with AAC audio at 192Kbps. The machine used was a 2.5 GHz i7 MacBook Pro.

Here are my time results:
Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 0:32
Apple Compressor 3.5 0:42
Sorenson Squeeze 9 0:43
Adobe Media Encoder CS6 0:44

I was surprised at how much faster Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 was compared to Squeeze 9. I'm glad I downloaded the trial version before buying. As a footnote, the encoder built into Apple Final Cut Pro X had impressive results. Unfortunately, in my workspace, it's on a different machine which makes it more difficult when using local storage.

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