Converting video files to other file formats can be a very messy and time consuming process if you don’t use the right tool.  There are websites out there that can convert videos to different formats, but you may not get back the quality you started with and the video may be cut short if the website only converts the first 5 or 10 minutes of video before you have to pay to get the premium service. Plus, they may watermark their logo in the middle or the corner of the video and who wants that!

The EVSC is blessed to have in many of the high school computer labs the Adobe Creative Suite 6.  Part of the Adobe Creative Suite are video programs for editing video, creating special effects, producing DVDs from student produced work and other video tools.  Adobe Media Encoder is part of this video editing suite and is responsible for encoding video files to the proper format to ensure they play on different devices videos are watched on today.

This tutorial will show you how quickly and easily you can convert your videos using Adobe Media Encoder. Let’s get started!

Convert Your Video in 5 Easy Steps


Click the "Add Source..." button.
Click the “Add Source…” button.

STEP 1: Load a Video File into the Adobe Media Encoder Queue.

Click the “+” button in the queue panel to add your video to the queue.

adobe-media-encoder-add-source-video


Choose a file format.
Choose a file format.

STEP 2: Choose a file format.

Choose a format that is compatible with the device you want to play the video.  For example, if you want to watch your video on your Apple iPad or iPhone, you can either choose H.264 or Quicktime.  Both are great quality formats, but the best bang for the buck I would recommend would be H.264 which will give you a smaller file size for the same quality.

Below the picture you’ll find additional information to guide you with your decision.

If you're looking for a format that will work on just about anything, choose H.264.
If you’re looking for a format that will work on just about any device, choose H.264.

Popular Video Formats Explained

F4V | FLV – Adobe Flash Video

To play a Flash Video on your computer will require you to download and install a separate program like VLC Media Player (Windows/Mac). Currently Apple Quicktime and Windows Media Player do not support Flash Video.

Flash Video is not supported on Apple iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad devices. There are some browser apps you can download that claim to play Flash Video, but there are no guarantees the content will display properly in the browser depending on the video player used on the website.

As of June 29, 2012 – Flash Video is no longer supported on Google Android devices and Adobe Flash Player is no longer available as a download on the Google Play Store.

H.264 – MPEG-4 Video (MP4)

H.264 is currently the most common video format used for recording and distribution of video on the Internet. Video websites such as YouTube and Vimeo use this format along with a host of other websites. H.264(MP4) videos play nicely on computers, tablets, and most hand-held devices without the need to install additional applications or plugins.

NOTE: Adobe Media Encoder has H.264 Presets available for YouTube and Vimeo so there’s no guess work when you want to get your video ready for these websites.

If you want to choose a format that will reach the most devices, choose H.264.

MOV – Apple Quicktime Video

MOV is Apple’s video format that plays using the Apple Quicktime video player. Quicktime is the default video player in Apple’s operating system (OSX) so there’s no need to install additional software to view an MOV video. To view an MOV video on a Microsoft Window’s computer will require you to download and install Quicktime from Apple’s website.


Choose a Quality Preset.
Choose a Quality Preset.

STEP 3: Choose a Quality Preset.

Something you need to know before choosing the quality preset for your new video is the original video’s horizontal and vertical resolution and the frame rate.  Adobe Media Encoder has made finding this information very easy.  Just click on the words listed in the Preset column to launch the Export Settings window – as seen in the pictures below.

Just click on the words in the Preset section to launch the Export Settings window.
Just click on the words in the Preset section to launch the Export Settings window.

Media Encoder Export Settings Window
Export Settings Window – Resolution and Frame Rate information available on source footage.

[CLICK TO VIEW] Adobe Media Encoder H.264 Presets for YouTube and Vimeo.
[CLICK TO VIEW] Adobe Media Encoder H.264 Presets for YouTube and Vimeo.
As you can see, the resolution of our footage is 1920×1080 and the frame rate is 29.97 frames per second.  This is 1080p High Definition video which is the highest quality video at the present time.  Since it’s at the top on the quality scale, I can choose any HD resolution for my converted video: 1080p or 720p.

  • If you choose 720p over 1080p, make the decision based on the fact that the original video is 720p or you need a smaller file size.
    • For file sharing with others, I have found that the Vimeo 1080p gives a smaller file size than YouTube 1080p.
    • If you’re going to upload the video to YouTube, it’s best to use the Presets for YouTube.
  • If you choose a lesser frame rate, be warned that the quality of objects moving in the film will be reduced.  Reducing frame rate is like cutting 4-6 frames per second out of your film.  I’m sure you’ve heard the term “cutting room floor” which refers to unused footage by folks in the motion picture industry.  Well, reducing the frame rate is like this except you’re doing it 4-6 frames every second of your video and you don’t get to choose which frames get dropped to the cutting room floor!

You can either (A) choose your Preset in the Export Settings window and press OK… OR… (B) press the Cancel button and choose from the Preset dropdown menu in Adobe Media Encoder.

You can choose the Preset from Adobe Media Encoder or from the Export Settings Window.
You can choose the Preset from Adobe Media Encoder or from the Export Settings Window.

Standard Definition (SD) video cannot be converted to High Definition (HD) video in the hopes that it will make it look better.  In fact, the video will probably look worse as the pixels will be more pronounced. If you need tips on enhancing your video, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and we may make a future post on the topic.


Choose location to save your file.
Choose location to save your file.

STEP 4: Choose Location to Save File

Click the output file path text to check folder to verify saving location on your hard drive and to change the new video file’s name.

Click the output file path text to check folder to verify saving location on your hard drive and to change file name.
Click the output file path text to check folder to verify saving location on your hard drive and to change file name.

Start converting the queue.
Start converting the queue.

STEP 5: Start Converting the Queue

To start converting your videos, simply press the Green play button located in the top-right corner of the queue.

Press the Green play button to start converting the queue.
Press the Green play button to start converting the queue.

Watch your video while the progress bar moves across the screen.
Watch your video while the progress bar moves across the screen.

While the video is converting, you can see a preview at the bottom.  The preview may be fast or slow depending on the length of the video and the power of your computer.   If it’s working fast, the preview will look like when you fast forward through a DVD video at 2X or 4X or faster depending on your computer.

If the conversion is slow, the preview will hang for a bit.  Just give it time and let it operate.

If the conversion freezes or is so slow that it’s taking too long, stop the conversion by clicking the red stop button at the top by the play button and then restart your computer.  A fresh restart will clear out the memory and allow for Adobe Media Encoder to have the maximum amount of memory.

QUICK TIP #1: Before starting the conversion process, if you have more videos you want to convert, it’s best practice to repeat Steps 1-4 and add them to the queue.  The conversion process can take a long time depending on the length and quality of the video.  Once you start the queue, you can pretty much walk away from your computer and let it work while you do other things.

QUICK TIP #2: Close any programs that are running before starting the conversion process.  Close web browsers, your email, word processors, and any background apps that hog memory…. EVERYTHING.  Close as much as you can that you know how to turn off before starting.  It will make Media Encoder less likely to crash and increase its ability to work faster.


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BONUS STEP!

BONUS STEP: How to View the New Video

This is not a step that’s needed in the conversion process, but it’s a step that will save you some clicking if you want to quickly get to your new video.

Just click the link to launch a window showing the file's location and double-click the video to watch!
Just click the link to launch a window showing the file’s location and double-click the video to watch!

If you have any questions or comments about this post or working with video in general, please leave a comment below!

41 COMMENTS

  1. Terrific step-by-step instruction with Media Encoder, as I am planning to post audio programming, podcasts, on youtube. My question, actually my need is, how do I “skin” the now-black player with a photo or illustration? This is actually the missing link in the process of posting audio-only on a video site!

    • If you’re posting a video file (mp4?) which technically only has audio, you should go into Adobe Premiere Pro and put a photo or illustration on the video section of the timeline. Then export again as a mp4.

  2. I have been searching all over the internet and talking to tech support for a solution to my problem: how to get MP4 videos to play in an interactive SWF (exported from Adopbe InDesign) as a stand-alone presentation on a PC. The videos play fine on my PC but do not play on other PCs in my office or at home. I haven’t put your tips into practice yet but I’m pretty sure that your tips in this article are what I have been searching for. Can’t wait to get back to my office and see if this works. You have provided some much needed information and helpful tips that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else despite hours of internet searches and time spent talking to Adobe tech support. Thanks for the great article!

  3. Hi there! This may have been answered in the comments, and I didn’t see it, but I am trying to turn a .mp4 into a DVD playable file (from what I’ve seen, that seems to be MPEG2), but for whatever reason when it rendered, it split the audio and video file, so now I’m unsure how to burn it to a DVD so it plays the audio with the video. Any suggestions? I feel like I am missing a step, but I’ve read through the steps a few times, and not sure if I have tunnel vision or user error. Thank you!!

    • You need to use Adobe Encore CS6 to create a DVD with the correct file format. If you have Adobe Creative Cloud, go to your CC app, click the arrow on the right side of the open button on Premiere Pro and you can choose “Other Versions.” Install Premiere Pro CS6. Encore CS6 will install along with it. And it’s ok to have both versions of Premiere Pro on your computer.

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