Either select MPEG-2 in the Add Settings pop-up (the + button) or better yet duplicate one of the Apple presets, either the Disc Burning presets, which are elemental stream, just a video file with a separate audio file, or from the MPEG presets, which are transport or program stream with multiplexed (muxed) audio.

There are six tabs or buttons near the top of the Inspector. The first tab is the Summary tab.

Figure 12 Summary Tab

This gives you a summary of the settings in the other tabs. It also tells you format and the estimated file size, 6.92G/hour. Most of the real work is done in the second tab, the Encoder, which is broken into separate tabs for Video Format, Quality, GOP, and Extras.

Figure 13 Video Format

You can set the format at the top, changing from MPEG to QuickTime. You’ll get a warning if you do that. Notice the checkbox for job segmenting. This is only applicable if you’re using multiple computers to encode one job.

In Video Format the default is on all automatic, which is fine for most things. If you need to alter the format, click on the gear button and the pop-up next to it will become active. Notice the checkbox that allows you set the start timecode.

For most uses automatic will work best, unless you need to set a specific frame size, which can be done here or in the Geometry tab.

The Quality tab is where you have real control of the amount of compression to use on an image.

Figure 14 Quality Tab

If the Video Format tab is set to automatic you can select in Quality in the Mode pop-up whether to encode in One Pass CBR (Constant Bit Rate), One Pass VBR (Variable Bit Rate) or Two Pass. There are also selections for one and two pass Best. Don’t use Best. It’s really slow and doesn’t do much for you, and in some instances actually isn’t as good as Better. If you don’t care how big the file is but want to encode quickly, use One Pass CBR. If size matters, use Two Pass VBR. With two pass you have separate sliders for average and maximum bit rate. Refer back to the Summary tab to see what differences your selection is making on the file size. (Ignore the display at the bottom.)

Set Motion Estimation to Better. It works perfectly well. Do not use Best. The only thing it does is slow down the compression.

You don’t need to change anything in the GOP tab; and the only setting you might want to change in Extras tab is to switch between transport stream or program stream.

In Frame Controls click the Action (gear) button and then turn On the functions in the pop-up. This is where you set how sizing and interlacing are handled.

Figure 15 Frame Controls

For all interlaced video that is to be seen on a computer, you want to make sure the material is deinterlaced. If the original material is interlaced, set Output Fields to Progressive and Deinterlace to Better (Motion adaptive). Don’t use Best; it’s actually not as good as Better. Also uncheck Adaptive Details. Reducing the frame rate will also help reduce the file size. For projects with very little motion, like talking heads, this can be very useful. If you’re going to change the frame rate of your output, in the Retiming controls set Rate Conversion to Better (Motion compensated).

You can add filters to the output in Compressor, but there are very few that you should ever use.

You might use the three at the bottom, Text Overlay, Timecode Generator, and Watermark. Never use Deinterlace in the Compressor filters. Use Frame Control for that.

Figure 16 Filters

The Watermark allows you to add a graphic. Make one with transparency at the right size and place it in one of the usual corner positions. It is simplest to create the graphic at the size of your image and position the watermark in the appropriate position in your graphics application.

Text Overlay lets you add text over your video like NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION or something like that. Timecode lets you add timecode in any of the standard locations and will either start the TC burn at zero or will read the timecode from the file that’s being encoded. These are the handiest ways to add these elements rather than overlaying them in FCP itself.

The Geometry tab allows you to create custom sizes for your media, non-standard shapes either by cropping or by padding the image. In Geometry you can set a standard or custom size or set a percentage of the source file.

Figure 17 Geometry

The final tab lets you set actions like emailing you when the encoding is completed. If you setting off a lot of items with multiple batch formats, this can be useful.


Much of the QuickTime controls are the same as we’ve just seen. The real differences are in the Encoder tab. Let’s look at setting up a preset for the web.

Figure 18 QuickTime Encoder

There are separate buttons that call up the Video and Audio options. If you click the Settings button for video you get the QuickTime encoding panel, which is common to all applications that access QuickTime.

Figure 19 Video Settings

The Compression Type pop-up gives you access to the entire list of codecs you have installed, including x264 (a better H.264), REDCODE, Media 100, or an XDCAM codec. A 264 codec is the best for web use. Use H.264 or x264 for the web. Frame rate will not make much difference to file size because of the way modern codecs work.

Never use Automatic for the data rate. Nor should you use the Quality slider. Always dial in a number in the Data Rate box. The higher the number the larger the file size will be, but the quality will be better. The larger the frame resolution the higher the data rate needed to maintain the quality. For HD video for the web at 1280x720 never use less than 1200 or 1400kbps. For standard definition, 640x480, you can go down to 1000kbps. For smaller files like 480x360 you can go as low as 600kbps.

Keyframes should be set to either 200 or 300. Automatic will add too many keyframes and increase the file size. Frame Reordering should be checked on. Encoding should be set to Best Quality (multipass). If there is very little movement in the video, and very simple images, you can use Faster Encoder.

You can switch off the audio if you don’t need it, or set it to pass through, which will leave the audio as it is. You can also enable audio compression, which you do want to do for the web.

Figure 20 Sound Settings

Set the Format to AAC. For many jobs, especially for video with speech only, setting the audio to Mono will work as well as Stereo and will save file size. For files with music set the Rate to 48K or 44.1, CD quality. For files with speech and natural sound only, set it down to 22K. This will also reduce the file size. When using AAC Mono at 22K, set the Target Bit Rate to 40. Otherwise, leave it at 128 for Stereo 48 or 44.1K.

For the web, set Streaming to Fast Start – Compressed Header. This will give best performance for downloading your file to the user’s browser.

In Frame Controls, if you’re encoding interlaced material, make sure you set Output fields to Progressive, Deinterlace to Better, and switch off Adaptive Details.

For your web video, which may be seen on both Macs and PCs, you should use the Gamma Correction filter to make a small adjustment to the video that will be a good compromise for the different systems. Make the gamma (the midtones gray point) a bit darker by setting it to 1.05.

To improve the saturation of the video for web display, set the Color Correct Midtones filter to increase all three: red, green, and blue, by +3.

These filter settings can be added either to the preset or to the settings after it’s been applied to the clip. Like Events and Projects in FCP, changing a setting in one does not change it in the other.

Before you output your file, always test a short section, about two to 10 seconds, to see how your encoding will work. Use the In and Out points in the Preview window to select a section that has the most movement, or has the most complex images, or has transitions, such as cross dissolves, which are very difficult to encode well. Once you’re satisfied with the test results, you can encode the entire file.

Give your compression setting a name and enter a description of the video and audio settings, compressor and data rate, as well as the geometry used in the preset. Apply the setting to your job and click on Submit.

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