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Exporting Movies from Premiere: Compression Options

With an ever increasing number of ways for people to watch digital video, understanding the format in which you export your media is more important than ever. You might have to output a full resolution copy but also one for DVD, for iPad, Apple TV, a Hi-Res YouTube copy and one for Blu-Ray. What we’re going to give you here is a quick tour of Premiere’s output options. The good news is that when you choose to export media from Premiere you basically hook directly into the Media Encoder application so you don’t have to output from Premiere then encode unless you want to. The whole thng can be done in a few clicks. 

Your first step is to choose a format. Note that when your settings are made you can add each encode to a queue, so you can set up several encodes at once and then leave them running. Under Export Settings, go to the Format menu and choose a format. 

Export format menu

The most commonly used options here will be QuickTime, MPEG2, MPEG4 and H.264 as well as possibly FLV if you are exporting for web video directly. Within each format there are presets and in some cases these will really help you out by tailoring the encode to a specific device. Under H.264 for example, Apple’s preferred codec, you will see presets for many devices by type. Note that there are also often different bit rate presets for each device. A higher bitrate creates a larger file but is generally of higher quality, and vice versa. 

The common codec options

You are able to change more or less any characteristic of the video on encoding and if you got to the Video and Audio tabs at the bottom you can set a format (NTSC or PAL) and set a custom frame size and audio bit rate. You also get to set encoding type (constant or variable, 1 or 2 pass) and target and maximum bit rates for the video. 

Encoding type

These options change depending on your target media. For regular DVDs for instance they look different to the Apple TV. Premiere is good at guessing a lot of things based on the source material, so you can save time in some cases by letting it auto-detect frame size, rate, pixel aspect ratio and so on. If your project is high resolution you can tick the box to use Maximum Render Quality. 

Maximum render quality

With your settings made, you should go up to the top left corner of the window and tab between the Source and Output views. These will show you the video prior to compression and the likely results afterwards. If you see blocking or artefacts in Output view, it might be necessary to go back and tweak the compression to be less harsh. 

Source and Output views

Another great tip when doing any video encoding is to test encode a short segment first. There’s nothing worse than encoding a two hour movie and coming back to find the settings looked bad. Far better to chop out a minute or so, encode that, maybe go back and change the settings and keep doing this until you hit the right ones. Encoding a minute of video takes hardly any time, so it could save you hours in the long run.  

Hollin Jones

Hollin Jones | Articles by this author

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance writer on music technology and Apple topics for well over a decade, along the way publishing several books on audio software. He has been lead writer at a number of prominent music and technology publications. As well as consultancy, full-time journalism, video production and professional photography, he occasionally plays Hammond, Rhodes and other keys for people who ask nicely. Hollin is Contributing Editor at Ask.Audio.


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