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That's all YouTube. If it looks good going up, but not after being stomped on by YT, there is little you can do. YT no longer passes through "properly" encoded videos--everything gets recompressed even if you match their parameters 1:1--so it's up to you to generate the highest quality source for upload. That means a relatively large file; H.264 with a ~10Mbps bit rate is OK for SD, but going much higher is just a waste of time.
Oh... well that's kind of depressing.
So, do you think I should export it as an AVI or MOV with as little compression as possible?
Or do you think that h.264 with a higher bitrate would produce the same result?
Thanks in advance.
A less-compressed source that you upload to YouTube might get you slightly better results, but it'll be at the cost of a far larger file and the improvement may be so minor that it's not worth it. I typically use H.264 MP4s--sometimes generated from AME, but sometimes I use third-party encoders that use x264. With those, I can usually get a somewhat smaller, better-looking file, but they typically involve a lot of extra steps to encode an intermediate file, figure out how to use the third-party encoder, and then tweak it to optimize the encode.
I'd try some short (less than a minute) encodes using H.264 from PPro/AME at increasing bitrates until you find an acceptable result on YouTube. With video encoding, there is really no magic bullet, paint-by-numbers approach you can take to getting the "best" result--it's highly subjective, anyway. Just do some tests, and you'll find the best combination.
I've had pretty good success getting clips exported in H.264 to look good on YouTube, but it's also been 6-8 months since I've done anything with YT, so if they've changed their re-compressing algorithms, that may no longer be good...
My preference is to use Vimeo, and AME's Vimeo HD preset is excellent...
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Be very careful when using Adobe's presents for YouTube, Vimeo, etc. They have a fixed frame rate but it doesn't always match your source frame rate and this adds additional render time and can drop or add (adding is much worse) frames.
The worst offender is a preset that is for non drop-frame 30.0 fps (instead of drop frame 29.97) because every 3 seconds 3 frames get added.
Also be aware that when exporting for the web (or most anything other than to DVD), you want to use square pixels.
This might require a bit of tweaking with the presets but it is well worth the effort.
864x480 is the square pixel equivalent to 720x480 widescreen (1.21...).
For more indepth info on the presets (and my rants on the matter) - have a look at my CS5 and C5.5 articles.
(under the heading "Don't trust the presets")
(under the heading "Working with watch folders in Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5")
I haven't, although I have spoken to Gina about it and the PR ppl at Edelman. I'll make the effort to submit by bugs using the bug report - this is the first I heard of it.
But maybe you should get the bug team to read my articles ;-)
P.S. I attended your session at NAB. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.