Final Cut vs. Premiere: Speed/quality tradeoff?
Monday, 18 August 2014
See October 29 update below
A suprising article by Noam Kroll provides evidence that the quality of Adobe Premiere Pro CC's H.264 exports are noticeably worse than those from Final Cut Pro X:
After seeing this I can confidently say that I will not be compressing to H.264 using Premiere Pro or Adobe Media Encoder any more. The image from Premiere is so much blockier, less detailed, and muddy looking, not to mention that the colors aren’t at all accurate.
In fact I even did another output test later on with Premiere Pro set to 20,000 kbps and FCP X only set to 10,000 kbps and still the FCP X image was noticeably higher quality, so clearly something is up.
I took Noam's two stills and used the Difference transfer mode and a Levels adjustment layer in Adobe Photoshop to show how different Noah's two encodes:
Click for larger version.
Larry Jordan has written an article that compares export times between Apple Compressor and Adobe Media Encoder using higher bandwidth codecs:
Adobe Media Encoder more than holds its own with Apple Compressor in terms of speed, image quality, and flexibility. The results of this test are striking!
Interestingly, Larry found that that Adobe Media Enocder was much better at preserving quality at low data rates.
Recently Divergent Media posted a video to show how fast their EditReady encoding application is. It compares EditReady with Adobe Media Encoder, Apple Compressor and Telestream Episode.
You might want to spool to the end. Interesting result - but after seeing Noam's post, perhaps the resulting encodes weren't all of the same quality.
I suppose different situations will need different workflows: sometimes speed will be more important than quality, somethimes it will be the other way around.
Up until now Adobe may have spent more time making encodes look good when using non-H.264 codecs. The good news is that they are very responsive with their Creative Cloud updates, so they are very likely to take a look at this.
29 October update
Noam has reported that Adobe got in touch and he's repeated the same test using updated versions of Adobe Premiere and Adobe Media Encoder.