Output From Final Cut Express

I've done a lot of testing for the best export settings from Final Cut Express so you don't have to - by David R. Beebe
Output from FCE

To preview the final product in the shortest possible time, export for use on WD Live media player.

Format: Elgato Turbo.264 HD
Use: Custom Profile HD 1080p 16:9 20000k IP Progressive Scan which is modified from default HD 1080p profile for Data Rate, GOP Structure and Source Deinterlace

Hint at eyetv lounge states to override GOP Structure of Auto (IBP) and use IP frames only. Seems WD Live TV has a problem with B frames. The default 1080p profile from Elgato creates an .mp4 file that WD Live does not play well (it plays fast). You can also convert this file to mpeg using VisualHub (no longer supported) and move the output to a thumb drive but that file won’t work right for FF/Rew and it adds another step.

The preset YouTube HD looks better and does a better job with transitions.

Using either QT or an HD Elgato profile at 20Mbps (its max) and building a disc image via Toast does not play well on WD Live TV Hub. Any AIC input to toast plays back in 4:3 ratio despite being 16:9. It also plays fast.

For final Disc-based presentation...

Export QT but uncheck the make self contained option. This creates a very small file very quickly then leaves Toast to encode the file. Toast takes advantage of the multiple cores of the iMac i7, something FCE does not do. Within Toast, use custom encoding configuration of avg. 19.5MB/S with peak 26MB/S and Progressive but this is limited to 30min on single layered DVD media.

Save the final output from FCE as self contained in case there is an opportunity to re-render it to a better output in the future. It is a compromise over saving the raw input files and the FCE project. This file is much larger than the movie rendered by Toast in the next step. Save it as Quicktime and check self-contained. This output file will remain in AIC format which has a much higher bit rate than H.264. Remember, AIC is for editing, H.264 is for final presentation. You would not want to re-edit H.264 as that would further compress an already compressed file.

If you want an H.264 version too, export using Quicktime Conversion. The absolutely best results are from Quicktime directly which will mimic the source file’s format and resolution (H.264). Using the Export As option, change QT’s size to HD1920x1080, no improvement seen from "deinterlace source" when the original was shot as 1080/60i. The i7 core iMac seems to be 2x duration for rendering, 4x if deinterlace is selected. A huge improvement over the 6x duration on my 3yr old MacBook Pro. Elgato’s turbo.264 HD is a very usable option that offers a huge time savings but the results are not as good for a final version.