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There is a Massive Quality Difference Between FCP X & Premiere Pro – Guess Which One Is Far Better At Compression?

I’ve always been really picky when it comes to compressing my video files (especially for web), because the image quality of the final product can be made or broken at this stage. There have been certain settings that have worked really well for me over the years with regards to H.264 compression, but it wasn’t until this year that I noticed a staggering difference in the final quality of the files that I would output from Premiere Pro as opposed to FCP X. 

Like many filmmakers today, I use a number of different NLE’s and post tools on a daily basis as every project has different needs and requirements. While my preference for straight up editing has largely leaned towards FCP X, I also use Premiere Pro all the time which led me to notice that exports from Premiere Pro generally seemed to be faster than exports from FCP X. This was especially true up until one of the more recent FCP X updates which seemed to have improved the render and output performance noticeably… But nonetheless because of this difference in speed I got into a habit of compressing my long format video files with Premiere or Adobe Media Encoder (even if I was cutting in FCP X), simply because it was faster.

On a recent project of mine though, I noticed that when using my standard H.264 settings in Adobe Premiere Pro the result of the final product didn’t look quite right. It was blocky, over compressed, and even the colors seemed a bit off. I even went back and re-exported the file to make sure that all my settings were in place – including checking off ‘Use Maximum Render Quality’, but still I had the same poor results. So I went back to FCP X and did an output using the exact same settings and there was absolutely no question that the FCP X output looked far better. I ran this same test again using Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder and had the exact same results.

I really wanted to share some screen grabs from this test on my blog so that some of you can see exactly what’s going on here. Both FCP X and Premiere Pro were set to output a high quality H.264 file at 10,000 kbps. Often I will use a higher setting (up to 20,000 kbps), but there are many times especially on longer format projects that I need to keep the bit rate down so it can be shared online, so I kept the settings for this test at 10,000 kbps. The top image is from FCP X and the bottom is from Premiere Pro (click to enlarge):

FCPX-Compression

Premiere-Compression

The compression artifacts aren’t as noticeable when you’re looking at a still (as opposed to the video file) but they are obviously there. And clearly the Premiere Pro image has a more of a reddish tinge to it that is inconsistent with my color job.

To show you the difference more definitively, take a look at these screen grabs which have been blown up to 400% so you can see how different the compression actually is. The top is FCP X and the bottom is Premiere Pro:

FCP X Compression 400%

Premiere Pro Compression 400%

After seeing this I can confidently say that I will not be compressing to H.264 using Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder any more. The image from Premiere is so much blockier, less detailed, and muddy looking, not to mention that the colors aren’t at all accurate.

In fact I even did another output test later on with Premiere Pro set to 20,000 kbps and FCP X only set to 10,000 kbps and still the FCP X image was noticeably higher quality, so clearly something is up. In a lot of ways this is fairly representative of my experience with Premiere Pro as a whole. I really like what Adobe is trying to do with Premiere, and it does have such a great feature set, but unfortunately I don’t find that all of the features work as well as they could… I’m sure as time goes on this will be perfected, but for now I am sticking with FCP X whenever I can!

In my recently released Guide To Capturing Cinematic Images With Your DSLR, I go into detail on compression, workflows, color grading and more (amongst lots of camera/lighting tips). So if you’re interested be sure to click here to learn more. 

 

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

103 Comments

  • Farah
    January 19, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Hi Noam!

    I was wondering if you could give us an update on this with newer programs? I have a choice between Adobe Creative Cloud 2018 (Premiere 12.0.0, After Effects 14.2.1, Media Encoder 11.1.2.35), and Final Cut 10.3.4 (SendToX 1.0.74, Compressor 4.3.2)
    Would you still use Final Cut? Or what’s your opinion? I have to compress 2.7K videos of 5mins to something I can put on Vimeo and embed on my website…
    Thanks for your feedback!
    Farah

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 1, 2018 at 3:40 am

      Hi Farah! I have recently stopped using Premiere Pro entirely and now only use FCP X and DaVinci Resolve. I can’t speak to the exact time differences in compression on FCP X vs Adobe CC, but would assume they are relatively in the same ballpark at this point. I would choose the software more-so by which you prefer to use from a creative standpoint. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  • Nicholas T
    December 24, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Hi, there are 2 ways that I’m aware off exporting H.264 files on Premier pro cc 2015,16…

    The first is “Format H.264” and the second one we choose “Format Quicktime” and then the “Codec H.264.”

    For the second option the quality looks like the worst mp4 file ever. However for the first one it looks good to me (didn’t compare with other programs)

    So just wondering wich one you did you test or if both.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      I tested both, and you are correct – the second option is much worse. That said, even using the first option I found FCP X better, and still do to this day.

      Reply
  • Ben
    November 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Hey Noam, has adobe fixed this issue with encoder yet? I’m considering going pc cause of the problem I have with apple not letting me upgrade my mac for better gpu, cpu, etc…, but with apple cutting away 422 from pc and encoder being bad in this post’s example, has encoder improved enough to be considered good enough to switch to pc?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 12, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Hi Ben – To be honest, I still don’t think this issue has been fully resolved. It has improved, but I don’t find Premiere gives me the best results when encoding H264 files, so often times I will render out to ProRes Proxy instead (for web uploads). This might be a mac only issue – I haven’t tried it on a PC – so it is certainly worth experimenting with.

      Reply
  • Trev
    October 4, 2016 at 11:22 am

    What quality of ProRes would you recommend exporting to for later H264 conversion? I’m using DaVinci Resolve for the first time, not that really means anything. Though I’m surprised how good it is.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 5, 2016 at 12:43 am

      I typically output everything to ProRes HQ (my main mastering format) and then create any sub masters or web deliverables (such as H264 from there). Occasionally on really high end jobs I will master to ProRes 444 or even a DPX image sequence. But 99% of the time ProRes HQ will do the trick.

      Reply
  • Jenny E Stark
    September 2, 2016 at 4:46 am

    How do I export a project another program to render it?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      September 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Are you trying to export from Premiere? You could output as ProRes and then convert it to H264 with a different software.

      Reply
  • ed Mellnik
    July 25, 2016 at 2:10 am

    I am editing in both Final Cut 6 and 7 and was starting to learn Premiere Pro CC so I could dump FCP….. but again, when i compared the Pro Res 422 render out of Premiere to Final Cut the Final Cut was so much better. When you are using other programs to render SD for DVD you have to start with the highest quality edit you can.

    Starting to think about terminating my Premiere act.

    Ed

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 2, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Ed – thanks for checking in. Lately, I have found Premiere has improved quite a bit with ProRes. Which version are you running?

      I still prefer FCP X and now DaVinci Resolve for editing, but occasionally use Premiere when it’s the right choice for the job.

      Reply
  • Samson gaga
    March 11, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Hi, guys have been using Adobe but it’s look nice and am using Quicktime Apple proRes 422 fir video codec is nice

    Reply
  • bestautumnn
    January 9, 2016 at 8:00 am

    The Avdshare Video Converter has an excellent performance in converting MP4 to Final Cut Pro/FCPX. Besides that, this professional converter works well in exporting FCP files to MP4.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 11, 2016 at 1:29 am

      Cool – thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  • Vasili Pasioudis
    January 6, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Hi noam, I am sending you some info which shows FCPX having good results viewing something on a timeline, but once encoded out, there’s a HUGE drop in colour depth and resolution on certain type of flat coloured footage. Would be great if you can post this as part of this blog and see if others have this problem too.

    Reply
  • C Blue
    June 20, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Can anyone tell me about x264Encoder for Compressor 4.1.3? I do not have this in my settings and need to figure out how to get it. Is it no longer supported? On Compressor I have a custom setting. If I go to Video then to QuickTime settings…. There is not option for x264 Encoder. I have seen others have it on the irCompressor. Am I missing something? I really need to get that. Thanks!

    Reply
  • apple critic
    April 6, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    just found and read your aricle and fully agree. i export 4K content and made very similar experiences:

    http://apple-critic.com/?p=63

    Armin

    Reply
  • Damir
    February 18, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Ok I found out how to go between Premiere Pro and FCPX without having to export a ProRes 422 file.

    This workflow includes using Davinci Resolve Lite (it’s free, best grading tool on the market and can act as a conversion tool in this case)

    In Premiere go to File>Export>AAF, choose a name, and click Save.
    You can now import the .aaf file into Resolve Lite.
    Once inside Resolve go to Session>Export. In the drop down menu Select Final Cut Pro XML Round Trip.
    Now select all the clips you want to send to Final Cut Pro and hit Start Render.
    Now jump back into FCPX and go to File>Import>XML

    I am about to try this trick myself, fingers crossed this will save everyone here some time and ensure we all end up with the best Final Render Quality.

    ps/ A Video Editor I know has switched from FCPX and Premiere Pro to using Davinci Resolve full stop, the latest version allows for state of the art video editing as well as color grading and he now swears by it. I took a look at it briefly and the final render quality is the best I have seen to date, however a small learning curve which I haven’t had the time to do yet.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Damir! Thanks for the comment. Just replied to your e-mail…

      Reply
  • Damir
    February 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    We mostly do boring conference filming, final video is always about 2 – 3 hours long, exporting in ProRes 422 ends up with ridiculously large files eg hundreds of gigs. Premiere Pro CC does export such a project in about 1 hour or so if using ProRes.
    My question:
    1) Is there a way that we can export an Un-Contained Movie from Premiere like back in the days of Final Cut Pro 7 where it is basically a reference file? This would make the video only 150MB and then import that into FCPX for rendering to H264?

    2) Or, is it possible to import the Premiere Pro sequence into FCPX and then just render out to H264?

    This would obviously save SO much time not to mention avoiding those large files….
    Anyone have any thoughts?

    Reply
  • Dan
    February 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    So what is the best settings to render and upload 4K videos to youtube?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 19, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      I like to render to H264 using maximum render quality, using CBR at 20Mbps.

      Reply
  • bryce hoover
    February 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Last week (2/6/15) I did a test encode using the exact same settings in both Compressor (v3.5.3) and AME CC 2014.2 (8.2.0.54) and find the AME encodes to be unacceptable in comparison to the Compressor output. Whether or not I used the Maximum Depth or Render Quality made no difference. AME still produced very poor compressions with loss of detail, blocking, and aliasing. This was an apples to apples comparison in which AME failed.

    Settings were:
    codec: H.264 (.mov)
    data rate limit: 5,000kbps, mulitpass if available
    scaled down from 1920×1080 to 1280×720
    interlaced converted to progressive
    frame rate maintained at 29.97
    Source files were exported from FCP 7.0.3, ProRes 422, 1920×1080, Upper Field, 29.97, :30 spots

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 19, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Good to hear Bryce… I’ve had better results with recent builds of Premiere Pro and AME, but will definitely look into this for a future article.

      Reply
  • […] Kroll escribe un artículo en el que compara la compresión en H264 que hacen FCPX y Premiere. Curiosamente, con los mismos […]

    Reply
  • javiero
    December 1, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    the big problem s the way the Adobe suite handles the H.264
    It’s a shame! huge difference in quality and size, it’s a joke.
    Quicktime X, Compressor even Handbrake are far far from the crap quality you can get from AME CC2014, AF or Premier. Period

    Adobe, it’s H264 era, wake up

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      December 3, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      If you check out my follow up article, they have actually improved this issue immensely in the new version! But it did take them a while…

      Reply
  • J-O
    November 19, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    what were the final video file sizes after you exported? I’ve had my own share of FCPX issues, and sometimes the exports dont follow the exact settings you tell it that you want. did FCPX actually export at 10,000 or did it actually export closer to 20,000? If you could share the actual settings that you exported with that would help too. Im a premiere user but use FCPX at work on a daily basis and I’m interested in knowing if there really is that big of a difference in exports at the exact same settings. thanks!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      Good question! I’ll need to go back to check the exact file sizes, but I can tell you based on memory they were very close…

      Reply
  • Sheldon Norton
    November 14, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Hi,

    This is not accurate, on a PC at least. I did the test twice and output pics and analyzed them in Photoshop.
    I think you should reconsider your tests especially if only done on only Mac. I can send my test tiffs if you wish.

    Reply
    • stefan
      November 20, 2014 at 9:49 am

      @Sheldon
      Could you provide your images and results please?

      Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Hi Sheldon,

      Yes this was done on a mac, so I can’t speak for PC’s. The good news is that it has improved dramatically in the latest update from Adobe.

      Reply
  • Pablo Ballester
    October 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks Noam, for this great article.
    I always export Prores HQ from FCPX and then Mpeg streamclip to h264 1000, cause is a fast tool, but do you think FCPX compression is better than Mpeg?
    Thanks again

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Pablo – To my eye, they are about the same… It’s really just Media Encoder that seems to be behind the curve!

      Reply
  • Tashi Hope
    September 20, 2014 at 1:41 am

    Interesting! I always thought my h.264 exports from Premiere didn’t look as good as they should, even with max render quality & max bit depth.
    BTW for image comparisons PLEASE use PNG or TIFF, looking at JPGs when trying to see compression artifacts is a bit silly.

    Reply
    • Tashi Hope
      September 20, 2014 at 1:52 am

      Many thanks for the article btw, didn’t mean to be critical 🙂

      Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Thanks Tashi! The stills at the bottom are actually PNG’s…

      Reply
  • Evandro
    September 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Noam.

    It is known that different workflows gives us different results and different softwares requests different workflows.

    Would u detail us each individual workflow used in FCPX and Premiere Pro ?

    Thanks! 😀

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Yes Evandro… As you may have seen in some of the other comments, I’m planning to do a more detailed test in the future. Stay tuned!

      Reply
  • […] Noam’s Big H264 Test […]

    Reply
  • […] Read the full post here. […]

    Reply
  • […] Read the full post here. […]

    Reply
  • Tora
    September 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for all compare , did you ever try with this plug in for Adobe on Windows ?
    http://www.cinemartin.com/cinec/

    Reply
  • […] the quality of the final image, especially if the export settings are identical in both programs. A recent test by filmmaker Noam Kroll might just teach us to think twice before making […]

    Reply
  • Julien Chichignoud
    September 12, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I wanted to see this with my own eyes (to be honest, because I doubted your result) so I did a quick test myself and had fairly different results. My test was a Compressor/AME one though.

    First of all, I had no colour shift from Adobe. And I haven’t tested this for a little while but I used to have big problems from FCP/Compressor with gamma and colour shifts and that’s why I’ve started using AME for h264 compression.

    Then in terms of compression quality, while my Compressor export looked slightly sharper, in terms of artifacts, they were on par. I also don’t really trust a blown-up still to judge the quality of a compression, as what matters is how the final file plays back at the original resolution.

    Thanks for doing this test, that’s definitely sparked my interest in researching this again, and I’ll come back with more thorough research 🙂

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:36 pm

      Thanks Julien. There are definitely a lot of factors at play here, but I can tell you after testing this on several machines now I have seen a noticeable quality difference…

      Reply
  • Adriano
    September 12, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I always render from Premiere to a master (prores or DNxHD) and then compress it using x264 encoder.

    Adobe uses really bad h264 encoder settings that canot be changed. Unusable.
    x264 is a free h264 encoder and is much bater.

    x264 Pro is a great plugin that adds x264 encondig to for AME and Premiere, but is expensive.

    I use Handbrake as a GUI to compress my masters to h264 via x264, and it is all free.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Great to know Adriano – thanks for the note.

      Reply
  • Pooyan
    September 12, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Thank you for this interesting test, Noam.

    I think it would be great if you could share what format and what settings you used for compression. There is a massive difference in output when you export to different formats (MOV, MP4 or M4V).

    In my own experience on Media Encoder, I can tell that M4V has the best quality (which I guess can be used only for Blu-ray, no proper playback on computer). MP4 is not as good as M4V, but it’s still great. I never ever export to MOV, though. The quality is just terrible.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      I am planning to do another more in depth test at some point in the near future and will certainly include more details on this one! Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
  • Alan Sheltra
    September 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Great article and information. Thank you Noam!
    I generally use compressor or Episode for final output. I used to use media encoder a while back and was not impressed with it either. I was hoping with the latest updates it would have been improved by now. I’ll stick with what I’ve been using for now.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one! Let’s hope MC improves over the next little while…

      Reply
  • Daniel Drasin
    September 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Almost nobody in this thread has mentioned QuickTime 7 as an encoding tool. Its settings are easy, and it does a fine job. Have you compared it with your results from PP and FCPX?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Good point Daniel. Thanks for this.

      Reply
  • Jeroen Rommelaars
    September 11, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Very interesting information. Never really thought about wether or not PPs render engine for h264 would be, by any chance, sub-optimal. I guess i’ll have to rethink my workflow for higher end productions that still need to be delivered in h264. I must note that 99% of my clients that require H264 files will never notice the difference, but still it is good to know.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      October 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      It’s definitely worth noting… Not always a factor but in some cases when that extra bit of quality really counts, it is definitely a consideration!

      Reply
  • Manuel Carrera
    August 26, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    http://www.x264pro.com/

    ” You know that the bundled H.264 encoder for Adobe Premiere Pro is not the best, so why do you use it on your masterpiece? “

    Reply
  • Matt Christensen
    August 24, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Hey Noam, thanks for the article! As someone who did my own tests before settling on which way of doing h.264 outputs looked best and were fastest, I settled on Premiere/Adobe Media Encoder. To be fair, I was comparing against the previous version of Compressor at the time.

    However I’m curious as you don’t mention which h.264 settings you are using. Obviously they can have a dramatic effect on the final quality as h.264 is used in everything from low quality iPhone videos up to beautiful Blu-Ray discs.

    I’d love to know all the specs you used (in both FCP X and Premiere) but to me the most important is which h.264 encoder did you use? In my testing in Premiere if you use the QuickTime file format and then choose h.264, you get a pretty blocky compression. On the other hand when I use the H.264 format (which produces an .mp4 file) I have always been impressed with the quality and speed of encode once you get in the bitrate range of 10-20 Mbps.

    Thanks!

    PS – The ‘Use Maximum Render Quality’ in the Premiere/AME export options deals with the quality of scaling algorithm used (I think). It definitely does not impact the overall compression into h.264

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 27, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks a lot for your insight. I too have found that I get better results when going to the H.264 .mp4 file as opposed to an .mov with H.264 compression. That said, I still don’t find the results to be as strong without lots of customization and tweaking as I get from FCP X and Compressor. As I just mentioned in another comment, I will try to do a follow up to this article in the future with more specific compression settings and screen grabs. This was just meant to be a quick test and I didn’t anticipate the huge amount of interest it would generate!

      Reply
  • Jarle Leirpoll
    August 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I would like to see the “identical” settings you used. Screen grabs from both programs showing every setting would be nice.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 27, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      I will try to do this in the near future… Lots on my plate right now, but perhaps a follow up to this article is in order!

      Reply
  • Walter Biscardi
    August 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    There’s so many factors that go into a good compression, it’s hard to just say “Well one application is better than the other.” I’ve had bad compression results in Premiere Pro as well. When that happens, I make changes to the settings to achieve the desired results.

    The exact same settings do not work in every instance, especially a scene like that with all the water drops on the windows. That’s going to tax a compression scheme. So you’re probably going to have to make some adjustments to ensure best possible output. The exact same settings will not work across multiple applications either. Different apps will compress differently even with the same codec. We’ve used Episode Pro for years because of a very specific setting NBC wants and that particular app does that file size / setting the best for those stories. That doesn’t mean Premiere Pro can’t do good compression, it just means using those exact specifications for an MPEG-2 file, Episode Pro does it better. Not going to make me change NLEs though.

    Choosing to edit in one NLE just because of the output compression is not the best reason to choose one over the other. This is kind of a poor comparison when you consider that your options to outputting from Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder are almost endless. We have about 12 presets we use at my offices and from those we adjust depending on the output of the file.

    How an NLE fits your workflow is why you choose one over the other.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Thanks for your input Walter – I am a fan of your work.

      You’re absolutely correct in that compression is a complex issue and Premiere Pro/Media Composer are capable of very clean H.264 outputs with the right settings. However my post was really based on the inconsistent results that I have been experiencing with it across the board when using fairly standard settings. As you said, you have 12 different presets that you can use for different circumstances, and I’m sure they work beautifully for you… In my case though, I like the ability to simply output my video files from FCPX with my standard H.264 settings and be able to get consistent results every time. On a feature length project or anything that goes to broadcast, regardless of the NLE I am using, I would take more steps and measures to ensure the compression is optimal, but when outputting a quick web master (that I still want to look good for the client), I don’t personally like the unpredictable results that I get from Premiere and prefer to avoid the trial and error for each output. Also, that’s not the only reason that I prefer FCP X over Premiere, but just another consideration.

      Reply
  • jean simenon
    August 24, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I’m not an expert, but as an editor I do compression all the time. I’ve recently moved from FCP7 to PPCC, and since the majority of my card comes to me in ProRes422, first I had to make sure to create a preset in PPCC so the sequences would match the clips, then I output all with Match Sequence Settings in PPCC, meaning to ProRes422 HQ, then I just use MPEG Streamclip to H.264.

    In FCP7, I always exported with the sequence settings, for fast export, then used MPEG Streamclip, because in one window I could control the frame rate, frame size, and audio rate, and I could keep working on the timeline.

    But here’s what might not be working with PPCC: The GPU rendering with CUDA. It seems that the CPU rendering works better. I don’t know why, and this would require some research but it might be one of the reason.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for letting me know Jean – I will need to try this!

      Reply
  • Albert
    August 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Noam,
    This site is always helpful, thanks.
    Then, what is the best workflow to compress a video if I edit with Premiere? Export from Premiere to ProRes and then compress to H264 with Compressor? It would slow down the process. Any tips?
    Best,
    Albert.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 22, 2014 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks a lot Albert. I would recommend compressor, even if it slows down the workflow. This isn’t necessary for rough cuts, but for final deliverables it is the way to go. You can also check out Handbrake or MPEG Streamclip.

      Reply
    • Ty
      August 24, 2014 at 7:32 am

      Hey Albert,

      I just attended Adam Epstein’s workshop on editing (he edits for SNL, and other important things). Since he does a lot of quick-turnaround editing in Premiere, he had a lot of helpful time-saving tips. One was to change your sequence settings to match your output. Similar to how many did in FCP7. In his case, since his delivery is ProRes 422 HQ, he set his timeline to exactly this, and this way when he is rendering effects on the timeline throughout the day, the preview files created by Premiere can actually be utilized later when making the final output. You have to make sure the “match sequence settings” and “use previews” boxes are checked in your render settings. I have tried this on the last few projects and it really helps speed up output time.

      I know, a bit of a tangent from the topic above, but thought this might help ease the pain if you are having to do 2 encodes like me (Premiere > ProRes Master > H.264).

      Reply
      • Noam Kroll
        August 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

        Great point Ty. This is something that I often do as well in any NLE that I work in to ensure there is no bottleneck upon output.

        Reply
  • Kim
    August 20, 2014 at 10:12 am

    First of all, thanks for the great articles you are writing. I have been reading them all trough after I found you web pages couple of months ago.

    I am not so much a videographer, at least not yet, I am more into developing gimbals and making videos demonstrating their cababilities and learning a lot also of videography and post processing and tools like the FCP X.

    Here is couple of presentation videos I have done so far.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFG9Pr-un3Y

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BBx6LMI9Tg

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfhhZEsl9lw

    Especially on the least one there is plenty of panning and tilting starting at 0:40, and YouTube is simply playing it back very bad, it looks like dropping frames. I am using the best available settings and downloading directly from FCPX, but have also tried different methods, without any success. The videos play back nicely and smoothly on FCPX. For this type presentation videos a smooth playback is important.

    Is there anything that could be done to get a smoother playback on YouTube? The best solution I have found is to use Vimeo. I think it plays the fast panning and tilting back much better.

    https://vimeo.com/102758745

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 1:02 am

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your feedback and I’m glad that you’re enjoying the site!

      Does the original file have any issues playing back? Sometimes YouTube might exaggerate things, but usually the issues are there to begin with. It may just be the usual jittery effect that happens when panning 24p footage, but it’s hard to tell without seeing the footage. I can tell you that I’ve had great experience with the FCP X youtube/vimeo settings. Maybe try uploading the video to vimeo to see if it plays better on there… That way at least you’ll know if the problem is with YouTube or the original footage.

      Reply
      • Kim
        August 21, 2014 at 7:02 am

        Hi Noam, Thanks for the reply.

        I went back and critically looked the original files and I think you are right, there is some very minor jitter, but not really that visible before loaded to YouTube. The last file linked above is on Vimeo, and I think that is much better.

        Also some of the footage is with 5D II at 24p so that, as you mention is probably also causing issues.

        The real question I have is, what could be done on the post processing to get it playing pack on YouTube as smoothly and jitter free as in FCPX?

        As for video settings I suppose one should use 30p to get jitter free playback, when the material is mainly distributed on YouTube/Vimeo? This is a bit confusing as many guides simply say one should use 24p to get film like look, mentioning nothing about the distribution channel (or jitter on panning sequences).

        Maybe this is a bit outside the scope of the article above, but I think codec and compression related anyway.
        _________________

        Ps. For now it looks I will move to Vimeo and get Plus os Pro deal. I am now also moving to GH4, so that should help too, but all post processing tips to get smooth playback on fast moving scenes when downloaded to Youtube/Vimeo, are most welcome

        Reply
        • Noam Kroll
          August 22, 2014 at 6:04 pm

          Yes, the fact that YouTube is causing the issue more so than vimeo seems to indicate that it is really a YouTube issue… as I mentioned before sometimes their compression seems to worsen and exaggerate issues that exist on original footage, so I wouldn’t change your approach too much at this point. And yes, definitely stick with 24p. I myself had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that 24p means that certain types of motion or camera moves are not going to look grew, but in the end that’s just how it goes! Even movies shot on film have this issue… So for now stick to 24p and keep uploading to vimeo!

          Reply
  • […] from FCPX and Premiere Pro CC, which also sparked an interesting conversation on Twitter. If you click through to Noam’s blog you’ll be able to see some close up images to compare the exports for yourself, but as Noam […]

    Reply
  • Archie
    August 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I am seeing so many comments about 4K delivery. Is it real?
    I am wondering selling my old gear to get on the “4K” bandwagon but always felt I only need it for better looking HD and noone really does 4K delivery. Opinions please.

    ps: Thanks Noam, I do not have FCP X but was definitely feeling as if my cameras were not “As good” as they were 2 years back 🙂 Funny thing, 2 years back I was using FCP7

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 12:58 am

      Hi Archie – I have had a couple of projects that required a 4K delivery, but it is still very, very rare in my experience. I wouldn’t worry too much about jumping on the bandwagon until you actually are requested to start delivering in 4k! No need to rush it…

      Reply
  • Al Mooney
    August 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    What version of Premiere Pro / AME did you test with?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Hi Al – I used the most recent version of CC.

      Reply
  • Iain Anderson
    August 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Just wondering if you have any opinion on the QuickSync-accelerated “faster” encodes that FCP X produces (or Compressor on a single pass preset). On any current consumer Mac (not a Mac Pro) they’re much, much faster than the slower encodes, but I’m keen to hear how good you think they look.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 21, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Hi Iain, I’ve actually just started playing around with this and I find the quality is quite good! To be safe, I would probably still stick with the old fashioned way for projects where it really counts, but for quick web previews or in a pinch, it’s great to have that option!

      Reply
  • Alex Gollner
    August 18, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Adobe updates Premiere Pro CC often.

    Would you like an option to encode at half speed for Final Cut Pro X-quality H.264s?

    You probably only have to ask!

    @Alex4D

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 18, 2014 at 6:43 am

      Not a bad idea! They are very responsive…

      Reply
  • Steve
    August 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Thank you for posting this — very helpful! For those of us using a PC, do you recommend perhaps something like Squeeze or Telestream? Are these any better?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Hi Steve – not a problem at all. I have heard very good things about Squeeze, but haven’t used it much myself.

      Reply
      • Steve
        August 17, 2014 at 10:25 pm

        Thanks Noam

        Reply
  • Ben Lewis
    August 17, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the article Noam, really interesting. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Anytime!

      Reply
    • Sandy
      September 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      I’ve been exporting to ProRes and then use Quicktime to for an .h264 file. Do you think that this is as good as going into compressor? It seems to work well for me. Thanks.

      Reply
      • Noam Kroll
        September 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm

        That should be fine! As long as it looks good to you and there are no noticeable artifacts – you should be good to go.

        Reply
  • Liam
    August 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Wow. I had no idea. I mostly use Premiere Pro as I do a lot of music videos, and to be honest I just cannot get on with FCPx in that regard, it does my head in. Maybe I should reassess if this is the case.

    In the meantime if I export from Premiere to ProRes and just use FCPx to get H.264 files out of it is that just as good?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      FCP X is really great once you get used to it. But even if you stick with Premiere, you can simply output to a different codec and then use compressor or MPEG Stream Clip to convert to H.264. Or you can certainly use FCP X as you’ve suggested, but if you don’t already own it, you can just use compressor which is only $50.

      Reply
  • Dave Patterson
    August 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Interesting test, for sure, so thanks for bringing this to our attention. I don’t have FCPX, so I haven’t been able to make this comparison.

    Q: Do you get the same results between these two apps when you render to other codecs, or just H.264?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Not a problem at all Dave. I have only noticed this with H.264, but then again I normally only output to either H.264 or ProRes (which seems to be fine from Premiere/Media Encoder).

      Reply
  • Andre Veloso
    August 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Render to a high quality intermediate (ProRes, DNxHD, etc) and use Handbrake to generate H.264 files for delivery. Much more options, flexibility and fine tuning than all H.264 encoder on any NLE.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Handbreak is great – thanks for chiming in.

      Reply
      • Chris Young
        October 30, 2019 at 1:31 am

        + 1 on rendering to a high quality codec and then using Handbrake. The x 264 library tends to beat the H.264 encodes many times over especially if you have to use lower bit rates. The lower bit rates my go to encoders are Handbrake, or Vidcoder if you need more up scale / resize options.

        Reply
  • Eric
    August 16, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Just curious – did you have GPU acceleration turned on? Also, was this straight of Premiere, or queued through Adobe Media Encoder?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I did have it turned on and I tried both with Premiere Pro and Media Encoder but had the same results both times.

      Reply
  • Peter
    August 15, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Naom. Thanks for this article. I have been noticing this with Adobe lately, and just never thought to compare it to something else. I can see the level of detail in FCP X outputs that can’t be seen on the Adobe output. And that color shift is definitely not cool.

    I agree with your assessment with Adobe Premiere Pro. There are some great features, and I really like the direction is going with it, however their are some key features and functions that don’t function very well in Premiere Pro. I just had to work and export a project in Full Frame 4K and the whole process was a disaster!

    The only thing that I have trouble working with on FCP X (that ultimately keeps me working in FCP 7 and Adobe Premiere Pro CC), is it’s audio editing. I find myself having great difficulty editing audio, coming from a traditional DAW background.

    Anyway…without going into a too much of a tangent…yes…I agree and I think I’ll start outputing my files in Compressor, since I assume uses the same transcode engine as FCP X?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      I completely feel your pain with regards to your 4K output. I’ve been in that situation with Premiere a couple of times and it really chokes up with 4k outputs (especially when using mixed formats in the timeline). I wish that FCP X would do something to help with the audio arrangement/visual organization in the timeline… The plugins and ability to use compound clips really opens up a lot of possibilities, but the UI issues can certainly be problematic, especially when dealing with lots of channels.

      And yes, compressor will give you the exact same results. I’ve already tested them back to back.

      Reply
  • Xiong
    August 15, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Are you using VBR 2 pass, VBR 2 pass, or CBR in adobe? I’m using Adobe Premiere CS6 and curious myself on doing some tests.

    Reply
    • Xiong
      August 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      correction: VBR 1 pass and VBR 2 pass.

      Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 15, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      I usually stick with VBR 2 although CBR seems to give nearly identical results… Not sure why it has trouble with this type of compression, but there is always MPEG Stream Clip!

      Reply
  • Jay S
    August 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for this article, Noam. I just started using premiere pro, and noticed the same thing with 4K renderings. Shame, such a great program!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      August 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      I thought it was just me at first which is why I had to test it out! It is a shame… Those little issues are what could keep people away from Premiere. I love what it is capable of, but these little problems can get annoying!

      Reply
      • filmfreak
        April 23, 2015 at 1:38 am

        LITTLE Problems ???!?
        Man, you must be kidding… I just checked these odd things by myself. And i find the results kind of absolutely unacceptable. It is ridiculous. In my tests even a freeware Encoder did a better Job, seriously… I am really disappointed.

        Reply

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