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Tutorial: H.264 Encoding in Apple Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder

If you're a streaming producer you have to know how to produce H.264 for both Flash distribution and for mobile devices. Fortunately, Adobe Media Encoder makes this simple with multiple presets for desktop and mobile players which I'll show you how to find and customize in this tutorial.

Working in the Adobe Media Encoder Interface

In most cases, you’ll want to choose Queue and launch Adobe Media Encoder (AME), whether it’s to give you more oversight of the encoding process or to keep the encode from interrupting your editing workflow in Premiere Pro (or both).

AME’s Queue Window

Figure 3 (below) shows Adobe Media Encoder’s three-window interface. On top is the Queue window, which shows you the files that are queued for encoding, with columns for the format, the preset, and the output file.

Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5

Figure 3. Adobe Media Encoder’s 3-window interface with the Queue window on top

AME’s Current Encode Window

Below the Queue window is the Current Encode window Figure 4 (below). You begin encoding files in this window by clicking Start Queue. Once your files start encoding, you’ll be able to see the files’ encoding progress in this window. If there are any obvious mismatches for aspect ratio, or if you see letterboxing or anything like that, watching the encoding process in this window gives you an opportunity to spot the problem before the encode is done. This is a nice feature that will save you some time every once a while when you do make a mistake.

Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5

Figure 4. AME’s Current Encode window

The Watch Folder Window

Below the Current Encode window is the Watch folder window. Compressor 4 also supports watch folders, but only if you know how to create and manage them via Apple script; Adobe Media Encoder, by contrast, supports watch folders in the interface itself.

Figure 5 (below) shows a single watch folder that I’ve set up to produce 5 separate files for adaptive streaming, so that if, at any time, I want to produce these files, I just drop the source file into a single watch folder and AME will encode all 5 of these files. This is a very convenient function if you’re producing for adaptive streaming.

Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5

Figure 5. A Watch folder in AME CS5.5

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