A guide to export settings in HitFilm
When you are using multiple programs or delivering your final product you might find yourself needing to output files in hitfilm. If you are like I was then you've got to the export page and got confused and then just stuck with the default settings. Sometimes I noticed differences in the color or the quality of outputs compared to the file in hitfilm.
Well thanks to a video series that someone did on AE, which i'll post below, I can give a quick rundown for hitfim.
Hitfilm has 5 different encoding methods. Youtube, H.264, OpenEXR, Image Sequence and AVI.
For all of us indie filmmakers who use Vimeo or Youtube did you know they have specific encoding settings that make it easier for them to encode? Youtube and Vimeo. Currently, Hitfilm only has a Youtube setting. If you are trying to use Vimeo or output final copies of your project then you may need to know how to get the best out of H.264.
H.264 is a finishing codec. Try to avoid editing or doing VFX in it if you can. It can bring fast computers to their knees because it's very compressed. In the Export page you can choose what you want to export from the timeline drop down menu. Maybe you just want to demo a vfx sequence you worked hard on so you only select your composite shot. Maybe you just did a nice little sequence that is edited together in full with other shots so you select the editor.
Export area: Do you want the area that just has what you selected by setting In points and out points? Then select Work Area. Do you want everything that is on your timeline but maybe not the 5 seconds of blank area at the end? Select Content Area. Do you just want the full monty? Then select Entire Timeline.
Length: Details the length of the export area.
Export Video and Export Audio: Having the boxes checked allows you to export both Video and Audio. Maybe you want to hear how something sounds, so you uncheck export video. Maybe you don’t need audio for a program so you uncheck audio.
Video Width and Height: You can set the output parameters of your video. Ideally either maintain the same resolution of the original video or go smaller. You can always take a 1080p file and output it as a 720p file and have something that still looks good. Taking a 720p file and spitting it out as a 2k file may make things look worse and give you weird dimensions to your video that causes black bars.
Scale mode: It is typically locked unless you change the width or height of the video. This is typically not where you want to have adjusted the scale. I recommend keeping the aspect ration. The options in here are 1)center, 2)Ignore aspect ratio 3)Keep aspect ratio(the default) 4) Keep aspect ratio by expanding.
Frame Rate: Ideally you do not want to change the frame rate on the output. All of your hard work can become very off if you start changing it now. Chance the video frame rate when you input it and then you know exactly what you are working with. Taking a clip with a 30 frame rate and cutting it down to 24 on the export with impact the audio and cut out some of the sections in the video. Trying to increase framerate on the export can make things go badly. Now if you just composited a 3d car driving through a city that you created, you could get away with cutting the frame rate down from 30 to 24 on the output.
Aspect ratio: Has to deal with how it handles the source material. If you are handling SD footage then here is where you would not select Square pixels(1.0). You also would not select that default setting if you were using an Anamorphic lens
Profile: How much work a processer has to do to handle your output video. For simpler devices with a lot of restrictions and not Displaying HD then you would choose Baseline. For your standard computer the Main profile is fine. If you are using Vimeo or Youtube then you might want to kick it up to High. The reason being that they are going to compress it anyways, so if you give them the highest you can muster it should then it might look ok after they take it and compress it.
Level: The higher the level the more it can handle a higher resolution and bit rate. I had a 2k timeline that would not allow me to use a 1.1 level. 5.0 and 5.1 are the only ones that let me render my 2k composite shot.
Encoding: Constant Bit rate means the same Mbps will be encoded for each scene. So a scene with a lot of action/ movement will have the same amount of Mbps as the scene where nothing is moving or change. Below that you can set the bitrate. This can cause you to have very large files. Variable Bit rate means Hitfilm can adjust based on the video. It will take longer, but adjust the bitrate based on what is going on in the scene. VBR 1 Pass is ok but hopefully FXhome adds VBR 2 Pass. Watch the video to hear why VBR 2 pass is better than 1 pass. Youtube and Vimeo do have guidelines for bitrate. For most of us, a 1080p video is recommended by youtube to have a bitrate of 8,000kbps or 8mbps and Vimeo says 10,000-20,000 kbps or 10-20Mbps. So you get a higher Video bitrate on Vimeo for the average user.
Audio settings: You can choose the bitrate for you audio, but again Vimeo and Youtube have preferred bitrates. Mono 128kbps, Stereo 384kbps, 5.1 Audio 512 kbps for Youtube. Vimeo gives you 320kbps for audio.
If you want to save room, then encode smaller bit rates. A 5 minute video can be nearly 1.5 gbs big if you use a VBR 1 Pass with the target set to 35 and the max set to 43. That same file with a target bitrate of 11 and a max of 32 would give less than 500 MBs.