What are the sizes?
If the image can be compressed to a point where the image is visually lossless in less than 18mbps then it didn't need to make compremizes and drop information to fit into the 18mbps maximum you set. Why add zero padding if you don't need it (ie bumping the 10mbps to 18)?
As Jim asks, what are the export sizes? - 480p is a lot smaller than 1080p and thus takes 4 times less to describe.
Also, what is the material? If it's mostly static images then you definitely don't need 18mpbs to describe it. For example, last week I rendered out a screen capture of a presentation at 1080p and was able to do it lossless at 1mbps since almost nothing changed except the mouse moving and windows popping up occasionally. In that case I set the max to 4mbps but afterwards (in MediaInfo) saw that it only needed about 1mbps.
I'm also having this same issue. I understand that it makes sense for Media Encoder to use the lowest possible bit rate to make it visually lossless but I'm wondering if there's a way to just force it to an exact bit rate regardless of what Media Encoder thinks would be best for me.
I change me stance..
I've been doing some 12.5 CBR and VBR encodes and they come out between 6.4 and 6.5 and are NOT lossless (you can stack them up in a squence using "difference" instead of "normal" and see the artifacts. Note that the estimated size is right - ie based on 12.5mpbs/second.
So I think there is something wrong with encoder.