I used Squeeze suite and Episode Pro (formerly Compression Master) to compress movies of my TV spots and videos for my Web site, used H264 mostly, and I recently tried to do the same with a 1 minute movie with disapointing results. The movie was composed in AE 7 as an 8 bit DI comp and rendered at 720x486 in Animation and also Apple 8 bit uncompressed, lower field first. The resulting movies were sharp as a tack, file size around 1.5 gigs. BTW they took around 10 hours to render, but the comps were pretty complicated and rendering is not my issue with this.
I used the H264 and mpeg4 codecs in presets for medium progressive movies, got the file size down to around 3 megs but they all look like crap. WMV and Flash movies looked bad too, unless I tweaked the settings with higher data and/or frame rates, but then the file sizes are getting out of hand. Could something be lacking in my source movies? Should they be 16 bit?
Like I said above, the movies I made before for my Website with the same presets are pristine, don't know what happened with this new job. Anyone?
I doubt it has anything to do with your source. What are the specifics of your encode? Frame size, bit rate etc? One thing I would have to look out for is the size you are encoding to. If you have a 480i source, you should not expect it to look good encoding to 480p with Flash. If you encode to 480i WMV or MPEG-4, then it will likely look better, but given it is likely laden with graphics and cg material, any encode at web bit rates at 480 lines is stretching it. I would recommend you deinterlace the source while encoding and only encode to a maximum of 360 vertical lines.