A couple of people have asked me recently how I deliver finished files to my clients for web use (typically YouTube). Until recently, I simply used the Premiere Pro “YouTube 1080p HD” preset. However, uploading these files to YouTube often delivers or both of the following warning messages:
Neither of these make sense, since H264 is most certainly a “streamable file format,” and I’ve never actually had any audio/video sync issues with the files I’ve uploaded. Nevertheless, these warnings are annoying and disconcerting to clients.
So, what I have started doing recently is to export my files from Premiere as ProRes files, and then using the free video encoder Handbrake to crunch them down to YouTube/client-friendly files.
The nice thing about this process is that you can use presets to make it easy. Premiere actually allows you to share presets, so you can easily import the one I’ve made for myself. Right-click and “save as” here to save the prores.epr file.
Inside the Premiere export dialogue, select “Quicktime” as the format, and then click the “Import” button (the little folder icon next to the “preset” option box). Import the file called “prores.epr.”
Once you do, Premiere will prompt you to name it, helpfully suggesting the name I called it.
I use ProRes 422(LT) rather than other flavors of ProRes because I find it to be the best compromise between quality and filesize. If you prefer ProRes 422(HQ) or Prores 4444, you can easily change the codec and save your own preset.
From now on, this preset will be available to you, anytime you select the “Quicktime” format in the export dialogue window.
Once you’ve exported the ProRes file, you can dump it directly into Handbrake. If you don’t have it, Handbrake is available freely here.
Handbrake comes with some very nice presets. I usually use the “High Profile” preset, which creates an .m4v file. Interestingly, the “Normal” preset creates an .mp4 file, and I’m not sure why the extensions are different, but “High Profile” is supposed to be better quality, so I use it.
Premiere defaults to 16,000 kbps (also known as 16 Mbps) for 1080p YouTube files, and for a short project (like a TV commercial), I’ll use the same number. For a longer project, I’ll drop the bit rate as low as 2500 kbps to get a reasonable file size. This is particularly useful when a client wants to use a video in a PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint running on a laptop chokes and stutters on high-quality video, so while a 2Mbit video may not win any eye-candy awards, it’ll play smoothly and still look pretty good.
Handbrake is very fast, so I usually turn on “2-pass encoding,” in an effort to get every bit of quality possible. Once the file is finished, I check it to make sure nothing strange went wrong, and then call it done!