I've just recently upgraded to Adobe Production Premium CS6 from CS4 where I was down converting my Canon 60D footage to proxies so I can edit fluently. When I uploaded my footage to Youtube it was disturbingly blotchy and pixelated. After upgrading to CS6 I started using the presets in Adobe Media Encoder to upload my video to Youtube. The results were not that much different from when I was using CS4. I know Youtube doesn't always provide the best quality videos like Vimeo does, but I've noticed videos such as this where the quality looks just as clear as a video uploaded to Vimeo. How can a video producer get this kind of crystal clear quality on Youtube?
It helps to upload a high bitrate file. Ultimately, though, the uploaded file will be transcoded to low bitrate 8 bpc 4:2:0 video. The are a few practices within the workflow that can minimize potential problems. Note that some of the items listed below are overkill if the final output will only be viewed online:
- Your source material is 8 bpc YCC color. Maintain YCC color (Premiere Pro YUV) and/or a high bit depth through the pipeline (32 bpc in Premiere Pro, 16-32 bpc in After Effects). Check the icons for each effect to ensure they meet requirements. Many 8-bit effects have a higher bit-depth alternative that can achieve the same desired results.
- Minimize the possibility of banding by avoiding smooth gradients. Use stripes, textures, overlays, etc. to break-up large areas.
- Add grain to low movement backgrounds to avoid macroblocking. Note that the Noise effect in Premiere Pro is 8-bit, so you would need to encode an intermediate file with the noise to avoid adding an 8-bit effect to the main sequence.
- Use the color scopes in Premiere Pro to check for any potential issues.
- Minimize the number of intermediate file transfers across applications. Use dynamic links as long as your system isn't getting bogged down. If an intermediate file is needed, select a 10-bit, 422/444, high bitrate, all-intraframe codec like ProRes, DNxHD, AVC-Intra, or, if storage space is not an issue, uncompressed V210 or DPX.
- If exporting to a 10-bit codec enable Maximum Bit Depth in the sequence and export settings, and set Depth to 48- or 64-bit (Premiere Pro) or "Trillions of Colors" (After Effects). Otherwise, the output will be 8-bit regardless of the codec.
- In Premiere Pro use the Export button instead of Queue. For H.264 from After Effects pull the file/composition into AME or Premiere Pro instead of exporting from the AE Render Queue.