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Shooting, Editing, and Producing in H.264 or H.265 Codec?

Apr 30, 2022
Jacksonville Beach
I produce mostly web marketing videos shooting in 4K with a P4P and Air 2S in H.264. I then most often edit and produce the final cut using H.264 reduced to 1920x1080, and only sometimes producing at full 4K. I'm considering doing some trials with the H.265 codec to try to save storage space as it's alleged to do. A few answers to questions from those of you with experience would be helpful please:

1. If I intend to edit and produce in H.265, is it necessary to also shoot in H.265? My experiments rending footage in H.265 from footage shot in H.264 did not result in a significant file size reduction vs. rendering in H.264. Are they cross-compatible - do you have to render using the same codec you shoot with?
2. What have some of you found to be pros and cons between the two codecs in your uses while shooting, editing, and producing? Picture quality, smoothness, file size, etc.?

Thanks in advance.
I think you ask a good question. I not technically savvy enough to know for sure, but logic would tell me that if you shoot in H265 then stay there and same with H264. For me the question would be does the compressed codec decompress when you're doing actual editing, remaining in that state until you render it? If so, shooting in one and rendering in another wouldn't make much of a difference. But perhaps that is largely a matter of where you're presenting the video. YouTube is going to do its own compression. Will the end viewer have the equipment to see the best quality of the end result?

I was searching for the answer but found the following information. Other than mbps in recording which has an impact on quality, does upload speed have any quality considerations, or is it merely a convenience for time efficiency?

"Because H.265 compresses your data so much more efficiently, using it as your video compression tool will drop your bandwidth and storage requirements by roughly 50%. The table below compares the recommended bandwidth for H.264 vs. H.265 encoding."


I shoot in HLG on my M2P, which requires H265. I post process in FCPX which allows me to output any codec I like. Sometimes I convert the HLG to rec.709, or keep it as a wide gamut HDR rec.2020. The output file codec for YouTube can be either 264 or 265 regardless of the original clip.

In summary, shooting in 265 does not limit anything.
H265 requires a much more hefty PC for editing, especially if the PC lacks hardware decoding for H265.

There is no visual difference between outputs encoded for h265 or h264. You can shoot h264 or h265, edit in either, and output to either.
As others have said, it takes more computing power for editing h.265 unless you have an M1 Mac, which handles h.265 like nothing. I usually shoot in H.265 and render in h.264 because I can only shoot in 10 Bit LOG in h.265. As far as h.264 and h.265 renders being the same size, I don't know what software you are rendering from, but if you render a video at say 15 mbps in h.264 and 15 mbps in h.265 they will be the same size. The h.265 file should technically be higher quality, however. The idea is that you can have a better quality video at the same bitrate because of more effecient compression which is another reason why I almost always shoot in h.265.
You miss the point. H265 needs only 1/4 the bitrate for the same visual quality. The comparison should be between the visual quality of an H264 encoded video with an H265 video encoded at 25% of the H264 video. That will give you a file size 25% of the H264 file of equivalent quality.

I generally don't due the full 75% reduction in bit rate. but something less, like 60%. The results are fine, and the file is 60% smalle.
I haven't tried any comparisons but it generally ends up Normal = 264; DLog = 265 (because that's the only option). I should probably see what happens shooting normal in both and comparing the results.
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At the recommended bit rates for both, it is a matter of convenience. Both give the same IQ. Both are quite lossy CODECs and suffer the problems of a greatly reduced color space. For truly professional results, ProRes in all of it's flavors is a far better choice. but suffers. from at least a 5x bit rate penalty.

In general, the DJI lenses and sensors are not capable of supplying the quality to make it worth while. I haven't tried the M3, but the other drones are quite capable of providing satisfactory results without this additional level of quality that are possible with ProRes.
For those guys who have issues with Mavic H.265 files in Final Cut Pro editing, you may try transcode H.265 to ProRes codec with DumboFab, more edit-friendly I think.
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