Is HEVC a better option to get better results in quality and smaller file size?
Yes, but the format is no as widely accepted as we had expected 5 years after its official release and after 10 years of development. The primary reason for this is that, unlike h.264 which has 1 patent pool, h.265 has 3 patent pools with different pricing structures. As a result some browsers have no support at all (e.g. Chrome, Firefox) or only partial support (Edge). Due to this, many content providers have stuck with h.264 because at least they know it will always play. That's why I stay away from HEVC for the time being.
Can HEVC be wrapped into .mp4?
Yes, you can do this in Compressor. Instead of choosing "Apple Devices > HEVC", select "HTPP > Broadband High" which always exports in an MP4 container. In the Video Inspector, you will be able to change the standard H264 codec setting to HEVC 8- or 10-bit.
What's the best data rate to choose from the compression setting if HEVC chosen for 1080p/720p delivery?
I have no idea as I don't use this codec. But I assume a data rate of 7,000 kbps will yield good quality at a reasonable file size.
At this time, H.264 is still the prevalent delivery codec for the web. And I think it will stay like this for a long time coming. Here's Larry Jordan's take on this:
Soran wrote: ...Is HEVC a better option to get better results in quality and smaller file size?...Can HEVC be wrapped into .mp4?...What's the best data rate to choose from the compression setting if HEVC chosen for 1080p/720p delivery?...
Delivering a file to a client (the OP question) vs uploading are two different things. The ability of various playback systems to handle HEVC varies. I'd be a little hesitant about blindly delivering an HEVC file or expecting it to work on some unknown venue playback system.
For upload that is different - Vimeo and Youtube handle .m4v HEVC files from FCPX OK.
The issue then is bit rate and bit depth vs playback quality. If the source material is 10-bit or higher (increasingly common), there can be definite quality advantages to 10-bit HEVC vs 8-bit H264, even if HEVC is 1/2 the bit rate. 10 bit material shot with a flat color profile and containing gradient scenes will often show banding after color correcting and exporting to 8-bit H264.
To my knowledge 10-bit H264 is not that standardized and I would not deliver a 10-bit H264 file to a customer, even if FCPX could encode that (which it cannot; Compressor can).
10-bit HEVC is more standardized, but the issue is can the client system handle that from a performance standpoint. You don't want a client to play it OK on an iPad, then find an old Windows machine at a venue cannot handle that at all or drops frames. But delivering any kind of HEVC to a client is risky. Eventually it will be more widely supported.
Another issue is no current Mac computer (including the new Mac Pro) has enabled hardware acceleration for 10-bit HEVC encoding from FCPX or Compressor. They are extremely slow -- roughly 30x slower than exporting to 8-bit HEVC or H264.
If you need 10-bit output for upload, the dilemma is ProRes is often too big and 10-bit H264 is not standardized. This leaves 10-bit HEVC which is currently super slow to export on FCPX/Compressor on any Mac hardware. A workaround is export to ProRes 422 which is really fast if the timeline is rendered, then use Handbrake to transcode to 10-bit HEVC.
Handbrake apparently uses hardware acceleration (at least on my iMac Pro and 2017 iMac 27). Despite using two separate steps, it is vastly faster than exporting directly to 10-bit HEVC from FCPX. Quality seems good. Procedure:
- Export from FCPX as ProRes (typically very fast if timeline is pre-rendered)
- Import to Handbrake, use the video encoder labeled "H.265 10-bit (x265)".
- If using 24 fps, there isn't a 24 fps pre-set so pick Vimeo/Youtube 1080p60
- In Video tab, modify it for 23.976, encoder preset slider: VeryFast, constant quality slider RF10. Do your own QC tests and adjust to taste.
Thank you both for invaluable advice! It's incredibly helpful.
It seems that it's safer to stay, for the time being, in H.264 realm for delivery, probably 8bit output in order to keep file size smaller.
It was also interesting to know what the handbrake can do and Compressor can't:( :
I agree that it's safer to stay away from HEVC for the time being. Just a small correction: Handbrake and Compressor can both encode HEVC without any issues. The only difference is (for now) that Compressor does not make use of the HEVC hardware acceleration yet.