Join Todd Kopriva for an in-depth discussion in this video What's the best export format or codec?, part of Premiere Pro: Frequently Asked Questions (2011).
Frequently ask questions about Premiere Pro. What is the best export format for Premiere Pro? We get asked this question a lot, but the answer might be unsatisfying, the answer is, there is no best export format from Premiere Pro. Rather, the best format for exporting from Premiere Pro depends upon your situation. When determining what format to use for exporting from Premier Pro, you need to ask the question, how will the movie that you're outputting be used? What kind of device will it be played on? Often when you are doing professional video work, in fact, usually, when you are doing professional video work, your client has given you delivery specifications.
They've told you what kind of video they need delivered. So, that already defines what your Output Settings should be. If your client hasn't given you information on this detail, ask for it. But if you're doing work for yourself, and you don't have a client who's giving you technical specifications, then, you need to know how to figure out what your own specifications are. So, ask yourself, what do you intend to do with this movie? That answer will dictate what your Output Settings should be. For example if you intend to upload your movie to Vimeo or YouTube or some other video sharing site, you get a much different answer. Than if your intent is to create a DVD that plays the movie in a DVD player. And that would give you a very different answer from if your intended purpose is to exchange the movie with someone else during post production work. Say using a compositing application.
Let's look at some examples of output formats and what they're appropriate for. I have a sequence here. Let's look at its sequence settings first. Go to Sequence > Sequence settings, and you can see that it's 720 by 480, which means that it's standard D1 DV and TSC size. And you can see that the editing mode is set to DV24P. This means that the Preview files that are being created are being created in the DV format or rather using the DV codec.
This will be important when we look at the export settings later and match to sequence settings. Click Cancel, now go to File > Export > Media. If we choose max sequence settings. Then many of the settings are greyed out, because they're already set. And notice that these settings match the sequence settings that we just looked at. These are not the settings for the video file that I'm using. These are not the settings that match my footage items. Rather, these are settings that match the sequence, and specifically, the preview format that I am using with in my sequences.
So this is not the way to have your output files necessarily exactly match the format of your input files. However, if you did create your sequence based on the characteristics of the input files, which you can do in various ways. Then choosing match sequence settings, will get you most of the way toward outputting a file that matches your input files. I'm going to uncheck this so that we can look at some of the settings. Let's just go through some, some formats very quickly. Animated GIF, is a low quality format used for mostly small Internet animations.
We've got a couple of audio only formats here, including AIFF. DPX is an image sequence format, DPX stands for Digital Picture Exchange, it's similar to Cineon, this will be used for a film out. F4V and FLV are flash video formats, F4V is a container format. The video codec within it is H.264 FLV is also a container format. The video within it is onto VP6. The onto VP6 codec can contain and alpha channel or transparency information. Where H.264 in a A4V file cannot.
So F4V is better for efficient compression. FLV is better for having an alpha channel. GIF, another image format, H.264, we'll spend a little time on this one. H.264 is a rather modern, rather efficient video and coding system. H.264 is MPEG4.10 and simply from the numbering MPEG4 you can tell that it's more modern than MPEG2. H.264 which is that as a format. We can then choose a preset, from these presets you can get a sense of all the various things that H.264 is used for. If you're outputting to Vimeo or YouTube.
You don't really need to ask the question. What are the best export settings for YouTube or Vimeo. You would simply choose one of these presets and be done with it. Other presets include Apple TV, Apple ipad, Apple iPhone and iPod there are many, many devices and formats to use H.264. H.264 is also the format used for Blu-ray. Blu-ray is a high definition format that is distributed on optical discs.
It's essentially the successor to DVD. Let's skip on down to DVD. Mpeg to DVD. DVD is a standard definition format, not high definition, only standard definition. And the video is in MPEG-2 format. Notice that you can also have MPEG-2 on a Bluray disc, this is included for backward compatibility, but it's not usually the way that people deliver Bluray. Going back to DVD, I want to make a point. A lot of people ask the question, how can I deliver my high definition file on DVD? Well, DVD video is a very tightly constrained format.
It is only standard definition. So, you can't deliver high definition movies in DVD format. DVD's are also a storage medium, so you can write a data file to a DVD. And that data file can be a video file, and that video file could be a high definition or even digital cinema sized file. But it's not DVD video, it won't play in a DVD player. So if you're thinking that you you want to create a high definition movie, to play on a DVD, you're probably thinking more you want to create Bluray.
So, moving on. MPEG-2, in addition to being what is used by DVD is a very broadly used very common format. Mxfop1a this is actually a structured container system that includes MPEG2 base data this is the sort of data that is used by XD KM. Microsoft AVI use the word container a few times but I'm really going to dwell on it here. AVI is a container format. This means that this file can contain video and audio encoded in any number of different encoding schemes. AVI is not, itself, a codec that bears repeating.
AVI is not a codec. AVI as a container, a box, in which, video and audio can be stored, using any number of different codecs. So when we have AVI selected here, here under video codec, we see that we have quite a large number of choices. This text with codec is not installed by default, this is a codec that's present because I have some screen capture software installed. And this makes a point. You can install all sorts of different codecs within the AVI system and use them within Premiere Pro. Not all of them work well,s o don't install codecs willy nilly, but sometimes if you need to use a specific codec you can install it into your system and then Premiere Pro can use it.
None means no compression. If you want to create a movie for Premiere Pro that will be used in a compositing application for example, and lose no pixel information, you can choose none, you'll end up with a very large file, but it'll be perfect, lossless, no image information lost. There are other lossless codex that do some compression but, none of them are installed by default. Now, let's jump to Quicktime, which is very similar to AVI. Quicktime is not installed by default on Windows computers, so you'll need to install it yourself.
But that's a good idea, because Quicktime does provide some useful features. Quicktime is also a container format. That means that it can contain video and audio in various different codex. Quicktime, or .mov, is not a codec. Clicking Video Codec we can see that the default Quicktime installation comes with a very large number of video codex. I tend to use PNG. PNG does do compression, but it's lossless compression at the highest quality settings. Just like none with an ADI, this means that you don't lose any image information.
But it does compress the file somewhat, so that they are large, but not absolutely huge. Also PNG can include an alpha channel, for transparency information. Animation is very similar. Animation also does lossless encoding. It does some compression. Although it's not quite as efficient as PNG for photorealistic images. It's actually more efficient for large expanses of flat color, like in cartoons. Which is where the name comes from. Animation can also include an alpha channel. PNG and animation. Though both good, and universal because they're commonly installed with the QuickTime system, are large.
They don't play back smoothly on many computer systems, because the files are so large they take a long time to read from disk. And they're somewhat computationally intensive. There are other more efficient lossless codecs. But they don't come installed by default. I'll mention some such as Lagarith and UT that you can look into. But you'll have to investigate those on your own. Just search for Lossless video codecs and see what people recommend. There's some other codecs that aren't lossless but that do a very good job of compressing and not losing very much information.
Such as pro-res and the Avid DNX HD codex. I'll choose PNG for the moment. And then let's just look at a few more formats here. We skipped over the PNG image type. It, like TIFF and TARGA, is a format for still images as is Windows Bitmap. We'll ignore Windows Media and Windows Waveform for the time being. I don't tend to use those. So to sum up, there is no best output format from Premier Pro. It all depends on what you're doing.
If you're delivering to an online video service, like YouTube or Vimeo. Use H.264 and use one of the presets. If you're delivering to DVD, choose impact2 DVD and use the preset. If you're delivering to another post production application. You want to use loss-less compression or no compression so that you don't lose any of your pixel information. But keep in mind that these files will not play back smoothly in a media player. They're not intended for playback. They're intended for further use in post-production.
There are other uses for output movies but this should give you the general idea of what you need to look in to. One thing to keep in mind you should always create a test movie before you get seriously involved in your work. Take in your footage, create a sequence, and then export a few seconds, see how it plays back, see how it looks, make sure that your client can see it and use it. Make sure that the video service that your uploading to can see it and use it. Do tests before you get very far into your workflow. This is how you will really find out what the best export format is for you.
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