For many Apple FCP/Compressor users who already made the switch to Premiere Pro CC/Media Encoder getting the optimal render settings out of the Adobe software can still be a challenge. The overall workflow in Compressor seems to be more intuitive and straightforward. The Adobe Media Encoder, on the other hand, provides more options to fiddle and play around with the final image which occasionally may result in poor performance while rendering, thus preventing users from getting the best possible image quality when exporting files.
If you are also overwhelmed by the delivering process, here is another great tutorial from Casey Ferris who reveals his personal post-production workflow on dealing with rendering footage in Adobe Media Encoder.
It’s important to note that Media Encoder lets users queue a bunch of renders, thus enabling export of multiple files in the background while still working on other projects in Premiere Pro or After Effects. As for the particular delivery workflow, most of the misconceptions and mistakes happen in the Export Settings Panel of the Media Encoder.
Depending on whether you are delivering for the web, your clients or only want to use them for archival purposes you should initially choose an appropriate preset from the list that comes with the platform.
For instance, if you are delivering for the web then using the H.264 codec and Quicktime wrapper tends to be one of the most popular options you can utilize. In the Export Settings Panel under Format select either Quicktime or H.264. In this particular case, Casey Ferris picks the H.264 option.
The next step is to choose a suitable preset. As Casey is dealing with HD footage from his Panasonic GH3 camera he uses the HD 1080p 23.976 preset.
All in all, the tricky part of the process comes with tweaking of the Basic Video Settings. Here you can set the desired resolution, frame rate and aspect ratio of your final video. As a rule of thumb it’s recommended to match the settings of your source file. Usually, these parameters are inherited by the preset that you choose in the top section of the Export Settings Panel.
For instance, depending on the country you are based in select either NTSC or PAL system. Under Profile choose High and set the Level to 4.2. If you are using footage that initially was shot as 10-bit video or higher tick the Render At Maximum Bit Rate box.
In terms of Bitrate Settings if you are using the VBR 1 pass both the Target and Maximum Bitrate should be above 20 Mbits if you want to maintain the high quality final result. Alternatively, if you wish to render a smaller files, you should use the VBR 2 pass option and set the Target and Maximum bitrate at a lower number. You can also use the Constant bitrate where the rate will be fixed to a particular value.
From my personal experience, I’ve used one of the YouTube presets that comes by default with the Media Encoder where even at 8Mbits I managed to get an excellent result after uploading my video to YouTube. Probably you should do some further tests to find the optimal settings for your own projects. As for the Keyframe Distance it should be set to 1 most of the time for best quality, and on the audio side picking the ACC format, 16-bit, 48000kHz, 192kbit/s audio will do a decent job.
For archiving or delivery purposes its best to choose the Cineform Codec. It’s probably the best option you have when you are working on PC. The latest version of Adobe Media Encoder also supports DNxHD. However, you may experience some colour shifts and other minor issues, so it’s recommended to use the Cineform Codec instead. Plus it renders really fast and provides excellent results. To deliver a high quality Master in the Export Settings Panel choose Quicktime, and then under preset navigate to GoPro Cineform YUV 10 bit. Set the Maximum Quality, match the source settings, tick Render at Maximum Depth and you are ready to go.
It’s interesting to share your personal workflow while rendering files using the Adobe Media Encoder. Feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.