Create an H.264 encode of your animation

Every year, people ask the question, “Why does Autodesk make us use such a crappy codec? DV video is omghueg!!” DV is a good lowest-common-denominator codec, although the file size is unfortunate. It’s best known for being the codec used on those DV camcorders (low processing power and magnetic tape storage).

“Why can’t we use something like DivX or MPEG4?” you might ask. I’ll spare you the lecture on the benefits of XviD as a superior alternative or the ambiguity of the term MPEG-4.

Well, after you submit your animation to Autodesk in their required form, you should consider encoding another version using H.264 and AAC. You get great-quality video and audio and incredibly small filesizes, and the file will play on QuickTime, MPlayer, VLC, or Windows Media Player (WMP may need extra codecs lawl).

This process is a bit more involved than a Premiere option, and you will need plenty of disk space. (2 gigs might be enough. Who knows.)

Here goes:

You will need two files: an uncompressed video file and an uncompressed audio file. The two will be processed separately and muxed together. In Video Post or Premiere or whatever, export an AVI using either Uncompressed or the recommended HuffYUV codec. Huffyuv is a fast, lossless codec that’s great for storing working video data.

Get Huffyuv:

Export your audio as one big 48kHz 16-bit WAV file.

Now, you should have animation.avi and animation.wav. They should sync up.

This guide uses only open-source software. You will not be asked to download some 30-day shareware trial. These programs here are very useful and versatile. You may find them useful in your future video-encoding careers. :slight_smile:

MeGUI is the cool GUI to encode video. It will update itself (grab all the presets it offers) and ask you to install AviSynth (which is required).

AviSynth is an uber-flexible scripted frameserver for post-pro proc. MeGUI needs it. I got version 2.5 stable.

A GUI for MP4Box. MP4Box is the program we will use to mux the audio and video into MP4. MeGUI might be able to do this itself, but I don’t trust myself to experiment. Regardless, the file that MP4Box produced was playable by QT and that makes it all right in my books.

I’ll attempt to walk you through without screenshots. :rolleyes:


Open up MeGUI. It doesn’t work on a straight input file, but rather on AviSynth scripts.

Tools > AVS Script Creator

Set Video Input to your raw “animation.avi” video. It will preview it for you to make sure it’s reading it correctly. Go to the Edit tab and add “ConvertToYV12()” to a new line at the end of the script.

Save the script as “animation.avs”.

Now that you’re back to the main MeGUI window, set your Video file format to RAWAVC and choose an output file, something like “animation.264”. In the encoder settings, choose the preset “x264 Unrestricted 2pass balanced”, and then go into Config. Don’t worry: you only need to bother with one setting—the bitrate. I used 2700 kbps. Higher bitrates offer better quality. Anything over 5000 kbps is excessive. If you have a target file size, calculate the bitrate you need.

If you don’t have this so-called “x264 Unrestricted 2pass balanced” preset, just use the default x264 settings with 2pass encoding turned on and the bitrate of your choice.

Hit that “Enqueue” button.

Audio is more straightforward. For Audio Input, choose your uncompressed “animation.wav” file. For the extension, choose “Raw-AAC”. Choose an output file name like “animation.aac”. For the encoder settings, choose FAAC and Config it with ABR and a bitrate of 128.

Hit that “Enqueue” button.


Your jobs are now queued up to be processed. On MeGUI’s “Queue” tab, look at the list. There should be three jobs: two video passes and the audio encoding. Run the jobs with the Start button at the bottom, and wait for them to run.

Now that you have your nicely-encoded “animation.264” and “animation.aac” files, it’s time to put them together in a “container format.” AVI, MOV, MKV, etc. are all container formats that can store (sometimes multiple) video tracks and audio tracks, each track encoded in any variety of codecs. You could put H.264 video and AAC audio in an AVI, but it’s not recommended. MP4 is a popular container nowadays for, well, MPEG-4 video. It’s flexible and open and QuickTime supported.

YAMB is specifically for muxing MP4s. Open it up and pick the first option, “Click to create an MP4 file …”. Add in your “animation.264” and “animation.aac” files. Right-click the video file and and go to Properties. Set its frame rate to 29.97 (or at least that’s what I expected you exported it as; 30 is fine as well). Choose an output file, like “animation.mp4”. Next. It thinks for a short time, since it’s not encoding video, just copying it in.

Try opening up your shiny new MP4 in QuickTime.

You need to burn in the NTSC DV/DV-pro codec so the people at autodesk can burn your files directly to DVD without re-encoding them.

Actually, DVDs use MPEG-2 (or rarely MPEG-1) codec for video, so color me puzzled. :confused:

Its tradition? to have an awful codec that causes many teams problems? i don’t know. Maybe its one of the great mysteries of the world.