How to Export H264 in 8K from Adobe Premiere Pro, Media Encoder and After Effects

by Antoine on May 15th, 2020
Full tutorial on how to export H.264 8K in Premiere Pro, Media Encoder and After Effects using our plugin, AfterCodecs

What does AfterCodecs do?

AfterCodecs is a new native plugin for the whole Adobe CC Video suite, working on both OSX and Windows. It brings fast and efficient codecs to After Effects’ render queue and a new "format" choice in Premiere Pro and Media Encoder's "Export" Window. AfterCodecs also removes a lot of the limitations that are found in regular Premiere Pro, including letting you export whatever resolution you require in many different codecs.
In today’s world of video production 4K+ resolutions are becoming increasingly common. However, the options for exporting higher resolutions can be quite limited in regular Premiere Pro, especially when using the H.264 codec. The maximum export resolution for H.264 in regular Premiere is 4096X4096, slightly above 4K. With AfterCodecs installed that goes up to 16384X16384 which is over 16K! This article will show you how to export these higher resolutions from Adobe Premiere Pro, Media Encoder and After Effects in H.264.

How to Export H264 in 8K from Adobe Premiere Pro and Media Encoder

In Premiere Pro select the sequence you would like to export and go to File>Export>Media, this will open your export settings. In Media Encoder, once you have a sequence queued for export, click on the button in the format column to open your export settings. From this point onwards the process is exactly the same for both applications. Select “AfterCodecs" in the Format drop down menu then, under the video tab, select the .MP4 or .MOV format. Click on “Open AfterCodecs Settings”
8K Export Settings

Selecting your AfterCodecs settings

In the video codec dropdown select one of the H.264 variants:
H264 variants
  • H.264 is the normal option of the codec.
  • H.264 Youtube upload is the AfterCodecs preset that follows the recommended Youtube export specifications. This is the simplest profile to use as it only has a render speed slider. Speeds = 8 should be avoided for final uploads as they will produce low quality files.
  • H.264 RGB is for power users only do not use it if you don't know what you're doing
  • H.265 you can follow the same tutorial here to export in H265, a more advanced codec compared to H264, leading to better quality or lower filesize if you can afford to spend more time compressing the file
The AfterCodecs menu also offers a wide range of export settings for this codec. So that the export suits your needs you can toggle between three main “tradeoffs” when choosing your settings: Quality, Bitrate and File size.
H264 tradeoffs
  • Quality : If you would like to maintain a constant quality standard throughout the video. A quality between 80-90% is excellent so there is no need to go above that. An extreme quality of 99 or 100 may result in an unplayable file, depending on where you are trying to play it.
  • Bitrate : If you would like to maintain a specific bitrate throughout the video, which can be at the expense of quality.
  • Filesize : If you have specific size requirements, this option will give you the best quality file for that size.
The speed affects compression optimisation, meaning lower render speeds will result in smaller files and faster speeds in larger files. However, if you choose Bitrate or File size the algorithm will also compromise file quality to get your render out faster. Speeds = 8 should be only be used for quick previews as they will produce low quality files. As a general rule, with slower render speeds you will get smaller files of higher quality.
As you can see, they each have a slider that will affect that specific parameter, so choose the one that works best for you.
Do keep in mind that higher resolutions will always create larger files with long render times, so it is even more important that you choose your settings carefully so that you get the file size/quality that you need.
There are also more advanced settings that make changes to colour range and the algorithm video processing. Remember that if you would like more information about any AfterCodecs setting, you can simply hover over it with your mouse and an explanation will pop up on the right. Changing these settings without knowing what they do may create an export that is unplayable on some software/players.
Advanced settings
Under the audio codecs options if you choose “AAC” a slider will appear that lets you select the bitrate.
AAC Options
Higher quality audio bitrates will encode slower and lower quality ones faster.
At the bottom of the encoding tab you will see a feature called “Fast start”. This is an AfterCodecs feature that optimises your video for web streaming. It will allow your video to start playing quicker online and it also means Youtube will process it faster, making it available sooner after uploading.
Fast Start
Once everything is configured to your liking, click OK on the AfterCodecs setting menu.

Selecting your Resolution

Under the video tab, uncheck the box on the right and select your desired resolution.
PPro Res selection
Although AfterCodecs supports resolutions over 8K, Premiere Pro can become very slow when exporting and especially when importing files with 8K+ resolutions, depending on your PC specs. If you have to work with large resolution files, it is recommended you use the Premiere Pro proxy workflow.
Only 16:9 resolutions were used in this guide but AfterCodecs allows you to choose any resolution up to 16384X16384. It is also worth noting that VLC player will only read up to 8K resolutions. Warning: Do not attempt to enter a resolution over the maximum amount as this can result in Premiere Pro crashing, this is a known issue that will be fixed soon.
Once you have selected all your settings, click export in PPro or the play button in AME and you’re done!

How to Export H264 in 8K from After Effects

Firstly, add your composition to the After Effects render queue. In the render queue tab, click on the button shown on the right to bring up your output module settings.
AE Render queue
Select “AfterCodecs.MOV” or “Aftercodecs.MP4” from the format dropdown menu and click on “Format Options” to open the AfterCodecs settings.
AE Output module settings
For all information required on setting up your export, please refer to “Selecting your AfterCodecs settings” earlier in this article.
Once everything is configured to your liking, click OK on the AfterCodecs settings menu.

Selecting your resolution

If you would like to export a different resolution than your composition, tick the “Resize” box and enter your desired resolution.
AE Resize
Only 16:9 resolutions were used in this guide but AfterCodecs allows you to choose any resolution up to 30000X30000. Although AfterCodecs supports resolutions over 8K, After Effects can become very slow when exporting and especially when importing files with 8K+ resolutions, depending on your PC specs. It is also worth noting that VLC player will only read up to 8K resolutions.
Click OK on the output module settings. Click render in the After Effects queue and you’re done!

Install and try for free AfterCodecs from here ! 500 Frames trial included as well as the full version if you have a license