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Encoding H.264 with 4 Mono Audio Tracks

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Chase Webb
Encoding H.264 with 4 Mono Audio Tracks
on Mar 28, 2015 at 12:54:56 pm

Hi all!

I'm starting to pull my hair out with this, so I decided to turn to you guys and see if anyone has suggestions.

I've been recording program feeds of our live shows via a BM Hyperdeck. I record 720 59.94p video with 4 channels of audio embedded over SDI to ProRes LT. This is great and works well for us. The problem, however, is the amount of space the ProRes records take up when stored is cumbersome and unnecessary.

I'm trying to encode these files down to something more manageable for archival with Media Encoder, but with no luck. I'd ultimately like an H.264 in an MP4 wrapper with four mono audio tracks. The H.264 preset in Media Encoder only allows for one mono, stereo, or 5.1 track, but no discrete channel layout. Then I tried switching to the QuickTime preset using H.264 as the codec. When configuring the audio settings, I am able to use Uncompressed which enables multi-track and solves my problem. However, when encoding video, I get nowhere the same quality and file size reduction as I did with the AME H.264 preset. I've changed the arbitrary 'Quality' slider and set my max bitrate as 15,000kbps to no avail. The file sizes are at least double what the AME H.264 preset generates at 15mbps.

So to remedy my problem, I opened up Handbrake to try using x264. I pulled in one file and voila, it allowed me to fully configure all four tracks of audio, codecs, bitrate, everything! So I did a test encode and everything came out great. Then I tried a batch. Once I imported more files, the audio channel configuration area stopped recognizing my four tracks of audio and instead recognized all 16 tracks from the SDI feed (12 of which are empty) as a single 15.1 surround track. I can't select individual tracks, just one 15.1 track. No matter what I do, I can't get it to re-recognize all four discrete tracks.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm about out of ideas.

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