How can I get maximum quality exports without loosing bitrate?

cufu Posts: 3 Just Starting Out*
I've been a content creator on & off, never really took it too seriously but I'm tired of my videos looking like trash. I've changed bitrate settings after reading about custom presets & I've tried avi. but no avail. Friends using Davinci & other software don't seem to have this issue. I'd like a straight answer if it's simply an "express" thing or me being an idiot. Any help appreciated


  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert

    First MP4, MOV and AVI are just generic file containers. Since you ask about bitrate, that is a video (and audio) codec feature. For most but not all codecs.

    "Maximum quality exports". That is a bit of an indeterminate answer. You can't just say X is the answer.

    MP4 export in Hitfilm. This is exporting AVC video in an MP4 file. Video bitrate is the major determining factor in result quality. The quality of the encoder matters as well. Hitfilm Free/Express use the operating system native encoder and it is not as good as the licensed Mainconcept encoder the Pro (creator?) version uses. Really that just means the OS encoder would need a little more bitrate to achieve the same quality as the Mainconcept encoder. And neither can approach the quality of the x264 AVC encoder available elsewhere. If the answer is I want the smallest best quality AVC video files, then one needs to use some encoder outside Hitfilm. Frankly, other editing software as well.

    Bitrate. Always use VBR (variable bitrate). Do not confuse that with variable frame rate. You really have to choose a bitrate that gives you the result you need/desire with your video content. This can only be determined by testing. Different content can require different bitrates for a similar perceived quality. Some things compress better/easier than others.

    In Hitfilm you need to create new presets to change the bitrate of any individual export.

    AVI export in Hitfilm. In Hitfilm, this is uncompressed video. Strictly this is max quality, but the files are absolutely massive. No bitrate settings.

    MOV export in Hitfilm. In Hitfilm, this Cineform video. Cineform is what is commonly called an intermediate codec. Much like Prores video. High quality, high bitrate files intended for re-editing or external encoding. It's not really a playback format, but can be used as such, but is not supported by many/most video players.

    Cineform does have certain quality settings (and these affect the resultant bitrate). Medium, High, Filmscan. High should always be safe. Medium often looks just as good with smaller files. Exporting to Cineform is good if you want to encode with some external encoder. x264 (AVC), x265 (HEVC) or other (in Handbrake or some other app).

  • cufu
    cufu Posts: 3 Just Starting Out*
    edited July 2022
    Yes I may have worded this poorly but am frustrated & also amateur with editing & software knowledge haha. But wow great response I appreciate the details. If you have the spare time & don't mind here is some of my content on my YouTube. If you skim through it you'll notice the bitrate is fairly blurry at some points. I mainly stick with gameplay/anime themed edits, any particular suggestion on settings I should change? Or should I just experiment with Cineform? Again I'm for sure amateur & terms like x264 (AVC), x265 (HEVC) is just foreign to me lol. Appreciate your input eitherway ty o/
  • triforcefx
    triforcefx United StatesPosts: 1,647 Moderator

    @cufu To seriously oversimplify, your best bet is to export in Cineform, then use Handbrake to transcode to something smaller and that YouTube prefers.

    HitFilm's encoder for regular YouTube MP4 files (h.264/AVC) isn't that great, particularly in Express/Free because it uses the Windows encoder (this is a cost saving measure... licensing a better one, especially for free software, is expensive). But the Cineform encoder is much higher quality. Afterwards, you transcode in Handbrake because Handbrake's encoder is amazing (but it sadly can't be licensed for use in HitFilm) and it gives you a file that is small, high quality, and YouTube friendly.

    In HitFilm, the "GoPro Cineform YUV 10-bit (MOV)" export preset should work perfectly fine.

    For the Handbrake transcode, I like to use this method:

    This might not be the highest quality method, but it works well for me. Decent quality and YouTube loves it. And it's small enough it doesn't take forever to upload.

    Also, just remember that YouTube is gonna hurt your quality regardless... here's interesting read from @Triem23 if you have a moment:

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Posts: 4,385 Expert


    Again I'm for sure amateur & terms like x264 (AVC), x265 (HEVC) is just foreign to me lol.

    Sorry for that. Not sure how else to say it.

    Those are the names of specific video encoders. x264 is an AVC/H.264 video encoder. x265 is an HEVC/H.264 video encoder. These are both open source, available free video encoders. AVC and H.264 are the names of international standards for a specific video codec (codec = coder, decoder). HEVC and H.265 the standards for a newer more advanced video codec. A specific codec is just a type of video. There are many types of cars, and they are all cars. There are many different specific types of video, but they are all video.

    You can just keep it simple. Always stick with Hitfilm MP4 exports. These are AVC video with AAC audio. These are really the best, most universal video and audio codecs and both can compress pretty good. Just use a bitrate that that gives your Hitfilm export a visual quality result you are happy with.

    For really high quality exports, because you want to re-edit, or encode using an external encoder, then just use MOV exports in Hitfilm. In Hitfilm this is Cineform video and uncompressed audio. To be easy you can just choose High in the Cineform quality option.

    If you have the spare time & don't mind here is some of my content on my YouTube. If you skim through it you'll notice the bitrate is fairly blurry at some points. I mainly stick with gameplay/anime themed edits, any particular suggestion on settings I should change? Or should I just experiment with Cineform?

    First, never, and i mean NEVER, just the quality of your output/result by what a Youtube (or other online service) does with your video. You have no control over that they re-encode your upload to and at what bitrate. Their encodes are pretty low bitrate in the scheme of things. Look at your export from Hitfilm and judge its quality. If that is good, but the Youtube result suffers then, it just is what it is. An advantage for them (Youtube) is that they are using the best encoders available, and so they can often get away with lower bitrates than we can get from our video editor exports. All else being equal (same codec and all that technical guff).

    If the video content is that which does not compresses easily (for lack of a better word) then the result will suffer at times. Looking at your content there is a lot of fast movement at times and thing like this often do not compress very well so bitrate is needed. Bitrate that may not be available. When that happens quality will lower relative to other parts of the video. This ALWAYS happens unless the bitrate is allowed to go unlimited, which just does not happen. The thing we only need to care about is did the quality lower to a point we really notice. This can happen more often with online services like Youtube which can have strong constraints of video bitrate (codec relative bitrate of course). Typical movie/tv type content always compresses well. Some game content/views are much harder to compress well. Well, meaning by preserving source quality better. Encoding/exporting a video is always lossy. (lossless encode excluded of course due to MASSIVE file sizes).

    You can't control the content of the game but you can control your movements, and edits, and this can have a strong effect on the compressibility of video content. No guarantee but it will certainly help. A video game example I can reference is Patolog TV (on Youtube). An impeccable gamer with incredible camera control. Always smooth and even. Cinematic might be a good term. When I have recorded some of my gameplay, my camera control can become a jerky mess. The point being than with the same game, same sequence, a Patolog game play would be smoother and much more compressible than mine. This can give a superior result on something like Youtube. As for edits, just understand some things are going to make things harder for lower bitrate encodes to maintain source quality. An example is at index 0:11 in your linked video. There is a serious amount of stuff going on in game content movement. Then there is an edit with a zoom in/out with a cross fade. Things like that are harder to compress well. Zooms can always be hard since there is little for an encoder to try and reuse from frame to frame to improve compression. This due to the scale/size of the individual content changing frame to frame. Individually content items like this could be just fine but in combo, then the encoder can get overloaded and run out of bitrate to maintain quality at some relative level.

    Video encoders can keep a reserve of bitrate to use in tough sections. So if relative quality is X, then in an "easy" section of content it can use less bitrate to keep quality X and save those bits for a tough section. Keeping the overall average and max within the given constraints (e.g. Youtube encoding settings). This reserve has a time constraint. Bits saved at second one will not stay around and build up and be used at minute 20, or whatever. The point being you can look at your video and see similar'ish parts and one got a little blurry/blocky and not the other. With compression a lot can depend on the other things that are going on around (before and after) that section that had issues.

    I know I have not given any "answer" here and that is because there is no real answer. The only real answer is never judge your video content quality by a Youtube result. Only judge your exported file for quality. If your result has no issue and the Youtube result does, then giving Youtube an even higher quality input is not going to change the issue.