Benefit of external H.264 encoder, if any?

MikeLV wrote on 4/24/2012, 5:18 PM
I will need to start encoding to H.264 format for downloadable video products. I know Sony Vegas can encode from the timeline to this format, but I also am aware of other encoders available for purchase. Does it benefit me in any way to use a different encoder than the one Vegas uses? If so, which would you suggest and why? My starting format will be AVCHD 1920x1080 and probably scale down to 1280x720. Thanks!

Comments

john_dennis wrote on 4/24/2012, 6:04 PM
Watch


developed by members of the forum. Then, you can decide for yourself how much time, effort and $ you want to invest over and above the tools available within Vegas Pro.

My main system:
Motherboard: Asus X99-AII
CPU: Intel i7-6850K
GPU: Sapphire Radeon RX480-8GB
RAM: Corsair Dominator (4 x 4 GB) DDR4 2400
Disk O/S & Programs: Intel SSD 750 (400 GB)
Disk Active Projects: 1TB & 2TB WD BLACK SN750 NVMe Internal PCI Express 3.0 x4 Solid State Drives
Disk Other: WD Ultrastar/Hitachi Hard Drives: WDBBUR0080BNC-WRSN, HGST HUH728080ALE600, 724040ALE640, HDS3020BLA642
Case: LIAN LI PC-90 Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Case
CPU cooling: Corsair Hydro series H115i
Power supply: SeaSonic SS-750KM3 750W 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply
Drive Bay: Kingwin KF-256-BK 2.5" and 3.5" Trayless Hot Swap Rack with USB 3
Sound card: Crystal Sound 3 on motherboard. Recording done on another system.
Primary Monitor: Asus ProArt PA248q (24" 1920 x 1200)
O/S: Windows 10 Pro 22H2, Build 19045.2130

Camera: Sony RX10 Model IV

https://www.youtube.com/user/thedennischannel

amendegw wrote on 4/24/2012, 6:46 PM
Three benefits:

1) HandBrake uses a superior codec. x264 provides for better encoding than MainConcept or Sony encoders. see: http://compression.ru/video/codec_comparison/h264_2010/Sixth MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Video Codecs Comparison[/link] and Low Bitrate Comparison
2) Superior resizing algorithm. HandBrake uses Lanczos vs. Bicubic or Bilinear in Vegas.
3) Superior deinterlacing. HandBrake uses Yadif vs. "Blend" or "Interpolate" in Vegas (although there is a free http://www.yohng.com/software/yadifvegas.htmlYadif Deinterlace for Sony Vegas[/link])

...Jerry

btw: HandBrake is available here: http://www.handbrake.fr
John_Cline wrote on 4/24/2012, 6:46 PM
Handbrake makes some really nice looking h.264 videos at low bitrates, ultimately better looking than either of the Vegas h.264 encoders. (There is no way to control the peak bitrate in Handbrake though and that could cause some problems for streaming but not for downloadable videos.) I also use the MainConcept encoder in Vegas a lot and deinterlace using the Yadif deinterlacer plugin for Vegas to go from 1920x1080 interlaced to 1280x720 progressive. It works well.
MikeLV wrote on 4/24/2012, 7:24 PM
I haven't yet watched that video, but it sounds like this Handbrake is the way to go. Do you do that through frame serving or do you have to encode to some other format first?
Duncan H wrote on 4/24/2012, 9:13 PM
Perhaps best if you watch the video, it will probably help. Also Handbrake has been covered in many threads in this forum , please use teh search facility. Here's a start:

http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?ForumID=4&MessageID=807004
SuperG wrote on 4/24/2012, 9:22 PM
I still avoid deinterlacing if at all possible.

Haven't tried Handbrake....yet...

Still using VirtualDub for resize and deinterlace (has lanczos3 and Yadif algos)...

Is Handbrake's H.264 codec internal to it, or is it installed as a DirectShow and/or Vfw codec?... I catch a cold when applications install DirectShow codecs and modify merit factors...
John_Cline wrote on 4/24/2012, 9:40 PM
Handbrake is completely self-contained.
Laurence wrote on 4/24/2012, 9:47 PM
I use external encodes rather than Vegas (or any video editor software) as well. Better resize, better deinterlace, and high quality at lower bit rates. I use Handbrake mostly but I also use Microsoft Expression for wmv encodes which also look great and are more likely to play back correctly on Windows PCs.

The problem with mp4 encodes is that most people don't have VLC installed and Apple QuickTime is so CPU taxing that it will often lose audio sync, especially on older Windows PCs. Wmv playback is far more likely to perform well on these PCs.

I usually ask what the file is going to be played back on. If it's a Mac or a tablet I'll give them a Handbrake render and if it's a PC I'll give them a wmv. If they aren't sure I'll give them both.

Wmv encoding is a little buggy in Vegas and Expression encodes look better at low bitrates anyway. I just use the free version of Expression.
SuperG wrote on 4/24/2012, 9:52 PM
Handbrake is completely self-contained.

Thanks - that's what I was much hoping to hear!

In the past, every Tom, Dick, and DVD player would install their own codecs, and if they messed with the merit, they'd screw everyone that relied on merit to select a codec. Smart applications install their own custom codecs with a less-than-default merit so that the auto-chooser will nevert select it - they choose their codec by name instead. Still, not all app developers have caught on.

The only way to tell is to make a before/after install look at the codec table using something like GSpot. It's just a shame...
Steve Mann wrote on 4/24/2012, 11:17 PM
"I will need to start encoding to H.264 format for downloadable video products. I know Sony Vegas can encode from the timeline to this format,"

Uh, no one noticed this? Vegas can't encode an h.264 file. External encoders are the only way to get h.264 from a Vegas project.

Why does it have to be h.264 when MP4 works as well with most players?
John_Cline wrote on 4/24/2012, 11:44 PM
Although almost any kind of data can be embedded into an MP4 file, most commonly, the video in MP4 files is encoded using the h.264 codec. MP4 is the container, h.264 is the video codec.
Laurence wrote on 4/24/2012, 11:58 PM
Like John says, usually an MP$ container contains video that is encoded with the h.264 codec, but one notable exception is XDCAM .mp4 which contains video that is encoded in the same mpeg2 format that is used in hdv and XDCAM .mxf. In fact, if the parameters of the video match, you can even smart-render between these formats!
MikeLV wrote on 4/25/2012, 10:39 AM
Why oh why must this be so complicated... I thought the MP4 file that Vegas encodes is H.264.. Apparently not? I'm going to have to buy an hour of one of you guru's time so I can determine which way to go with encoding and settings and all this information I just don't have time or patience to wade through.. Any volunteers? :)
amendegw wrote on 4/25/2012, 12:05 PM
"I thought the MP4 file that Vegas encodes is H.264"The .mp4 renders produced by the MainConcept AVC/AAC & Sony AVC/MVC encoders are, indeed, in h.264 format.

...Jerry

btw: Just to confuse the subject even more, HandBrake uses the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X264x264[/link] encoder to produce h.264 format renders in either .mp4 or .mkv containers.
btw2: "I'm going to have to buy an hour of one of you guru's time..." Everything you need to know is in the YouTube video posted by John Dennis in post #2 above.
MikeLV wrote on 4/27/2012, 12:48 PM
Thanks, I watched the tutorial video. The video kept saying that the input source should be 1920x1080 with interlaced frames. if my camcorder (Canon XA-10) can shoot progressive, shouldn't I do that instead of having to convert interlaced to progressive? If so, how does this change the procedure explained in the tutorial?
Steve Mann wrote on 4/27/2012, 12:57 PM
"The .mp4 renders produced by the MainConcept AVC/AAC & Sony AVC/MVC encoders are, indeed, in h.264 format."

Then why does Mediainfo report that the encoded video is h.263?

amendegw wrote on 4/27/2012, 1:41 PM
"Then why does Mediainfo report that the encoded video is h.263?"Where do you see that? When I do a MediaInfo (version 0.7.56), the codec id is listed as "avc1"


"avc1" is identified as H.264 as evidenced when you play the video via VLC:



...Jerry
amendegw wrote on 4/27/2012, 2:49 PM
"if my camcorder (Canon XA-10) can shoot progressive, shouldn't I do that instead of having to convert interlaced to progressive? If so, how does this change the procedure explained in the tutorial?"Shooting progressive is fine. I do it all the time using the above method. The only change that should be made is on tab 2 - "Video Filters", set "Decomb=Off".

Actually, a time or two when rendering progressive, I've used the wrong template (with Decomb=Default) and haven't noticed a difference. But technically you should not be doing any deinterlacing when going from progressive to progressive.

...Jerry
MikeLV wrote on 4/27/2012, 3:06 PM
Jerry, many thanks for answering my question!

The one thing that has always frustrated me about editing video is not knowing what it's going to look like on everyone else's computer monitor. Should I set my computer monitor on factor settings since most people probably don't change their settings? Or should I not even care about what I'm seeing on my screen and just follow the advice in the tutorial?
amendegw wrote on 4/27/2012, 3:27 PM
"Should I set my computer monitor on factor settings since most people probably don't change their settings? Or should I not even care about what I'm seeing on my screen and just follow the advice in the tutorial?"Here's what I do. Others with more expertise might chime in.

1) Calibrate your monitor using a Datacolor Spyder. I have an old Spyder 2 and it seems to work fine. This is not absolutely necessary, but gives you confidence in what-you-see-is-what-you-get.
2) Use the Histogram option of your Video Scopes in conjunction with the Sony Levels FX to get your luminance to the 16-235 range (or the "brute force" method is to merely apply the cRGB to sRGB template). I'm a disciple of "musicvid". Others use the Color Curves FX to accomplish a similar end.


...Jerry
MikeLV wrote on 4/27/2012, 5:54 PM
Ok, a few things I noticed so far:

1) I installed the Avid codec and followed the tutorial and encoded a test file from Vegas. The clip I encoded is 5 min 4 seconds and it took a LONG time to encode,16:44. Is this correct, should it take that long to encode to that format? My system is an Intel core I7-2600K 3.4GHz, 64 bit Win 7.

2) The 5 minute file is about 5.5GB in size, is this correct?

3) To me, the encoded file's contrast doesn't look enough, it's not washed out, but it's not as crisp as it could be. I set the levels as described in the tutorial, so this leads me back to wondering if my monitor calibration is way off.. I don't think it is because the stuff in the tutorial video looks good...

On to the handbrake part now...

amendegw wrote on 4/27/2012, 6:12 PM
1) Tests have been done. It takes about the same time (or less) to render to DNxHD->HandBrake->h.264 as a direct render from Vegas to MainConcept h.264.

2) Yes, DNxHD files are large, but there is very little generation loss.

3) Hold off on this question until you see the final HandBrake output - and then train your mind to look for the increased detail in the whites and blacks.

...Jerry
John_Cline wrote on 4/27/2012, 6:16 PM
1) Yes, that's not an unreasonable encode time.

2) File size is determined entirely by bitrate which can be adjusted withthe quality slider or by manually specifying a bitrate.

3) It's certainly possible and quite likely that your monitor isn't calibrated properly. Also, different players display at slightly different levels.
amendegw wrote on 4/27/2012, 6:41 PM
Jerry said, "3) Hold off on this question until you see the final HandBrake output - and then train your mind to look for the increased detail in the whites and blacks."

John Cline said, "3) It's certainly possible and quite likely that your monitor isn't calibrated properly. Also, different players display at slightly different levels."I didn't want to get to this level (pardon the pun) of detail, but a DNxHD render played in a Quicktime player does not display the levels expansion (sRGB to cRGB) that one sees when viewing mp4 (h.264) videos in any other video player we've tested.

Of course, MikeLV's monitor may not be properly calibrated as well.

...Jerry