x264 Preset Reference Guide

Hi there, this is Steve again, the systems administrator for Digital Trike.  This time, I’m going to be covering a bit about video encoding.

Here at work, we do a lot with multimedia.  Most of it is working with video that our clients need on their websites, so we’ll handle those requests.  When we do, we use x264 to encode video.

One really nice thing about x264 is that the developers setup presets to make life easier for users.  The presets default to good settings that will make the video look nice.  There are nine presets in addition to the original one, and they go in both directions — lower quality to much better.

When working with multimedia, I’m pretty meticulous about my options, so I put together a reference guide for what settings each x264 preset uses.  It’s helpful for me to get an aerial view of what the subtle changes between settings are.

Most of the time, a user isn’t going to want to deviate from the presets.  Multimedia encoding is one area where flipping random bits that appear to be helpful often end up making things worse, or just as annoying, make the encode time take much longer with very little gain.  My advice would be simple: stick to the presets, then go with what looks best to you.  Keep it simple!