Tip #1411: With H.264, the Profile Makes a Big Difference

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1411: With H.264, the Profile Makes a Big Difference

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When in doubt, compress using the High profile.

The AVC/H.264 logo.

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Key to compressing a file into the H.264 codec is the Profile. These profiles determine the quality and format of the compressed file.

Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, Handbrake and other compression programs provide different profile options, which make a surprising amount of difference when you encode your media.

This software provides up to four options when choosing a profile:

  • Baseline
  • Main
  • High
  • High-10

NOTE: The H.264 spec defines 25 different profiles!, most of which require special software to access.

  • Baseline. This profile is principally used for low-bandwidth video conferencing and mobile apps.
  • Main. This profile is used for standard-definition TV. It should NOT be used for HD.
  • High. This profile is particularly designed for HD video, as well as Blu-ray Disc. It should also be used for any media you plan to archive.
  • High-10. This does everything the High profile does, plus adds support for 10-bit 4:2:2 media, which is required for HLG HDR.

Neither Compressor nor Handbrake support High-10. Adobe Media Encoder supports all four of the profiles listed here.


Here’s the Wikipedia article I used to learn more.

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