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MPEG-2 or H.264 for Blu-ray disc?

When encoding video for Blu-ray disc, you can use MPEG-2 or H.264 encoding. MPEG-2 is used for DVD, but a much higher data rate is used for HD content on Blu-ray, so the image can be quite good.

The benefit of H.264 is that at the lower data rates used to fit long programs on a disc, H.264 is more efficient than MPEG-2 and will produce a better quality. At higher data rates though, this advantage is less apparent. Considering that H.264 takes about 5x as long to encode as MPEG-2, you must decide whether the content is worth the extra hours of encoding time.

If your workflow is such that you can do the encoding overnight, then H.264 becomes a more obvious choice, but when the production demands speed, MPEG-2 is quite suitable for most jobs. Either format is supported by all Blu-ray players per the official Blu-ray specification.


I encoded a 1920 x 1080 clip into m2v and one as h.264. Two seperate export files. One hour 15 min created 6 GB H.264 and 15 GB M2V.

I had great difficulty distingushing any differences between the two viewing the videos in Adobe Encore. The video is a dance recital. Stopping both videos at the same frame and comparing the two proved indistingushible. However, motion in the H.264 seemed pixleated, not as smooth as the M2V version.

The bit rate settings for H.264 was approx. 16 MBPS , 30 MBPS for M2V (these were the max. Values possible).

How can you compete for fine detail when you are only 16 MBPS and your competetor is 30 MBPS???

Food for thought....

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MPEG-2 or H.264 for Blu-ray disc?