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I noticed that Premiere(CC2017) can export h.264 through its own encoder and QuickTime. Are there any / what are the differences between these two?


PP Native h.264 encoder

QT h.264 encoder

  • I thought h.264 was h.264? As far as I know, no difference – Manly Nov 15 '16 at 20:50
  • @Manly At least with MP3 there's LAME encoder and Fraunhofer codec, which both produce regular MP3 but Fraunhofer yields better quality. – Pichan Nov 15 '16 at 23:29
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    I'd say LAME is better at VBR encodes and FDK at CBR. – Gyan Nov 16 '16 at 3:40
  • @Mulvya good to know :) – Pichan Nov 16 '16 at 10:37
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    since when lame is worse? – Sarge Borsch Nov 17 '16 at 9:21
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The encoder is always the same, namely Adobe Media Encoder. What you're changing is only the format, which admittedly is a bit confusing since that dropdown mixes up a couple of concepts which don't really belong together. If you select H.264 from the format dropdown, that's the video codec. Using that format selection, you will find a ton of options below, one of which is the multiplexer tab. This is where you can select what container format you want your video and audio stream to be mixed in (usually that's MP4). If you select the QuickTime format, you are always exporting a MOV file. The codec of the QuickTime format is variable, so you get a dropdown for that instead.

So with both options, you will get an H.264 video stream, but mixed in a different container format. You can find more info on individual streams and containers in my answer here.

It's a bit confusing that you are selecting different things (codecs or containers) in the format dropdown, but since there are also completely different options such as exporting as an image sequence or exporting audio only, it's hard to come up with an interface that's neither terribly bloated nor missing important options.

From the Adobe Support Pages:

Some filename extensions—such as MOV, AVI, and MXF —denote container file formats rather than denoting a specific audio, video, or image data format. Container files can contain data encoded using various compression and encoding schemes. Adobe Media Encoder can encode video and audio data for these container files, depending on which codecs (specifically, encoders) are installed. Many codecs must be installed into the operating system and work as a component inside the QuickTime or Video for Windows formats.

  • Thanks for the answer! I still have a question, just to be sure I understood correctly. I know you can encode mp3 using different software(LAME and Fraunhofer). Fraunhofer according to the internets yields better quality. This is the basis for my curiosity here. So, regardless of chosen container format, would the actual h.264 stream be always bit-by-bit the same(if I managed to match the encoding settings)? Or in other words is the stream always encoded using the exact same encoder/codec/piece of software before writing it to the chosen container? – Pichan Nov 15 '16 at 23:09
  • Also, I found lots of (old) discussions on QT gamma shift, so I really can't let this be until I've got a more in depth explanation. Your answer is great, but could you maybe go into more detail? :) – Pichan Nov 15 '16 at 23:17
  • @Pichan Regarding the encoders ... to be honest, I am not sure. Premiere exports are pipelined into Adobe Media Encoder, which is an independent piece of software that gets installed together with Premiere. As far as I know, this software encodes H.264 in the same way regardless of the container. But again, I'm not 100% sure on this, sorry. But to be honest, even if it differs slightly nobody will notice the difference (in the same way that nobody can notice the difference between Fraunhofer and LAME). HOWEVER when using the QuickTime format, you have less control over your output quality. tbc – MoritzLost Nov 15 '16 at 23:36
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    Regarding the gamma shift, that's more of a player issue than an issue with the video. Standard H.264 has a tone range of 16 - 235 and contains a metadata flag that tells the player to scale those values to a range of 0 - 255. However, some players such as QuickTime in certain configurations don't read that value which leads to the gamma shift. I don't think it's much of a problem anymore, as YouTube, Vimeo et c. read those flags and display the video correctly. Also, Media Encoder has good, working presets for those services. – MoritzLost Nov 15 '16 at 23:41
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    It seems the H.264 encoder in Adobe products is the one by Mainconcept. – Gyan Nov 16 '16 at 2:32

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