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Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

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Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by SwiftWave » Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:03 pm

Hello!

Seeing as 720p & 1080p Casting is currently the main preference for Streaming, I've decided to share my tests on Bitrate & Preset Combinations, not only with words but also with videos so you can check it out yourself!

In combination with the excellent and simple guide ZeroTalent has written over
here I'd say you're quite a step forward onto estimating an average Quality you'll be able to dish out.

Important Notes

- All tests have been done in Combination with the Avermedia Live Gamer HD, results may vary very slightly for other capture methods.

- These tests are focused on ensuring awesome quality on the default channel view, not full-screen.
- Compression increases the quality you will output on lower bitrates, this is very important for both "limited-upload Streamers", but also for "limited-download Viewers". Having a too high bitrate will make you lose potential fans/viewers.

Don't forget that every Bitrate Test has a video demonstrating the quality!


=== Pixelation at the start is normal ===

Quality: 10
Buffer: Same as Bitrate
Codec: X.264

RED = Quite an amount of Pixelation. (Does not mean it's not watchable!)
GREEN = Small or No amount of Pixelation.


---------- VeryFast Preset ----------

720p@30FPS
> 500 Bitrate
> 1000 Bitrate
> 1500 Bitrate
> 1750 Bitrate
> 2000 Bitrate

As you can see, 500 is just unacceptable. I've seen too many users try and stream at this resolution with just too low bandwidth.
1500 Bitrate is usually considered the minimum for a 720p@30FPS cast, as you can see it has some pixelation but not too bad.
1750 Bitrate shows minimal pixelation and 2000 proves to be solid for a 720p@30FPS cast.


720p@60FPS
> 1500 Bitrate
> 2000 Bitrate
> 2500 Bitrate
> 2750 Bitrate

The first thing I've noticed is that 1500 and 2000 seem to be very much the same in quality.
2500 is a big improvement over both and 2750 is definitely the bitrate to keep the default small view window on amazing quality.
Now, not everybody has the bandwidth to stream or even watch a stream at that bitrate.
Luckily, we have compression customization.


1080p@30FPS
> 1750 Bitrate
> 2250 Bitrate
> 2750 Bitrate
> 3250 Bitrate
> 3500 Bitrate

As expected, 1750 bitrate shows to be way below minimum requirements.
The double of that seems to provide a pretty good quality stream, even on Full-Screen.



---------- Fast Preset ----------

720p@30FPS
> Unfortunately, using the Fast Preset on 30FPS only offers a very slight difference. Not worth using.

720p@60FPS
> 1500 Bitrate
> 2000 Bitrate
> 2250 Bitrate

As you can see, 2250 Bitrate on the Fast preset seems to be almost the same as 2750 bitrate on the VeryFast Preset.
This is quite a lot of bandwidth and viewers you're saving. 2000 Bitrate is definitely watchable too!


1080p@30FPS
> 2000 Bitrate
> 2500 Bitrate
> 3000 Bitrate

It's interesting to see how 2500 is already spot-on, but the step to 3000 doesn't seem to offer any improvement.


---------- Medium Preset ----------

720p@30FPS
> 1000 Bitrate
> 1250 Bitrate
> 1500 Bitrate
> 1750 Bitrate

Compression doesn't seem to do a whole lot of work on 720p@30FPS, even with a very strong preset it doesn't seem to be worth it.

720p@60FPS
=> 60 FPS Encoding in Real-Time on this preset is a real CPU Killer.
=> I would not go here without a Dual-PC Setup with a really strong CPU.

> 1500 Bitrate
> 1750 Bitrate

Compression shines again, amazing quality on only 1750 Bitrate. ;).
There seems to be a very big difference between the Fast and Medium preset.


1080p@30FPS
> 2000 Bitrate
> 2500 Bitrate
> 3000 Bitrate

Very dissapointing results, no improvement over the fast preset at all.
Not worth the extra CPU Resources.


=== Conclusion ===

Compression proves to be much and much more effective on higher FPS streaming. Unfortunately 720p@30FPS does not seem to take any advantage from compression at all, while 1080p@30FPS seems to benefit from it quite a bit. As shown on the Medium Preset, it takes the same bitrate for the 720p@60FPS Stream to be a better quality stream than the 720p@30FPS Stream.
High/Advanced Experience with:
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- BlackMagic Intensity Pro
- Input-output, splitters, virtual/physical setups
- XSplit
- Single-PC Setup & Dual PC-Setup

My Guides:
- Bitrates & Presets
- GrooveShark XSplit Overlay
- AVerMedia Live Gamer HD Guide
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by ZeroTalent » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:57 am

Good stuff. I did a lot of tests myself to put together my FPS/bitrate, though I was using higher bitrates. I'm curious whether or not your source video was bitrate constrained. Can you record that in a lossless format and then encode it offline using x264 at crf 25 without bitrate constraints to see what the average bitrate is at those presets?

Most of the test video here is probably bitrate constrained but not terribly so. Lots of scene changes, plenty of motion, but not a lot of particle effects or motion in multiple directions. I took a ZvP max battle with lots of effects and encoded it at multiple presets and bitrates, then computed the SSIM compared to a lossless source for all of them. This scene is highly bitrate constrained -- without vbv-maxrate, I get bitrates of 30,000 Kbps at crf:18 (!), and fairly high bitrates even at crf:24. The source video was always 1080p@30fps. These were my results at crf 24 (I tested in crf increments of 3, so 24 is the closest I have to crf 25/XSplit quality 10). A good ballpark way of thinking about this is that an SSIM of 0.80 will look decent but not great, 0.90 looks "really good", and 0.95 will have people saying "wow, your stream looks amazing". 1.00 would mean the compressed video exactly matches the source.

720p@30fps
Code: Select all
preset/bitrate 2000 2625 3250 3875 4500
veryfast       0.82 0.84 0.85 0.86 0.87
faster         0.82 0.84 0.85 0.85 0.85
fast           0.83 0.84 0.85 0.86 0.86
medium         0.83 0.85 0.86 0.86 0.86


What I think this shows is that the bitrates I used in my experiment were too high :). Also, it means that if you are downscaling the source video from 1080p to 720p, the downscaling going to introduce enough loss that using super-high bitrates won't help your video quality.

Here are the results for 1080p@30fps
Code: Select all
preset/bitrate 3000 4250 5500 6750 8000
veryfast       0.86 0.89 0.91 0.92 0.93
faster         0.86 0.90 0.92 0.93 0.94
fast           0.87 0.90 0.92 0.93 0.94
medium         0.88 0.91 0.92 0.94 0.95


So regardless of bitrate, the distance from the source video (1-SSIM) drops 15-20%. The case

So when the scene is highly bitrate constrained, the preset makes some difference but not a huge one.

I ran some similar tests on a medium-complexity scene (a 120 vs 120 supply TvT battle that takes 8500 Kbps to encode without VBV constraints at crf:18), and got these results. At crf:24 I get these results with a max bitrate of 3300 Kbps

720p@30fps
Code: Select all
preset/bitrate 2000 2625 3250 3875 4500
veryfast       0.85 0.86 0.87 0.88 0.88   
faster         0.85 0.87 0.88 0.89 0.89       
fast           0.86 0.88 0.89 0.89 0.89   
medium         0.86 0.88 0.89 0.89 0.89


Here again we see minimal benefit in increasing VBV maxrate beyond 3250 Kbps. At at that bitrate, however, we see slightly higher benefits to compression in terms of quality.

And here is 1080p@30fps for the same source video. At 8000 Kbps, the bitrate goes from 7250 at veryfast to 7125 at medium.
Code: Select all
preset/bitrate 3000 4250 5500 6750 8000
veryfast       0.90 0.92 0.94 0.95 0.96
faster         0.91 0.93 0.95 0.96 0.96
fast           0.91 0.94 0.95 0.96 0.96
medium         0.92 0.94 0.95 0.96 0.97


This time at all presets the video quality is already very good. At bitrates < 5500 the quality improvement between veryfast and medium is pretty good -- the distance from source video drops from 0.10 to 0.08 or 0.08 to 0.06, a 20% or 25% improvement.

I will run this experiment with lower bitrates as well as with a lower-motion source video to see what happens :).
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by JESUSatWork » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:29 am

Hi,

By any chance, OP, could you elaborate on the game(s) that you tested these on? I stream veryfast 720p @ 50 with a Blackmagic Intensity Pro, using a bitrate of 4500... I used to use lower, but in high-motion sequences (in Cod), graining and blurriness became very apparent.

Does the Live Gamer HD require less bitrate than the BMI for some reason? Or is my judgement just skewed a bit?

Here is an example of my direct stream quality:
http://www.twitch.tv/mrjesusatwork/b/330996292
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Augustine » Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:37 am

Thank you for sharing your test results with us. Like JESUSatWork, I'm curious. Can you tell us more about the games you tested these on?
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by SwiftWave » Fri Sep 07, 2012 5:04 am

At first I thought games would look the same, after recording clips I did figure pixelation would become more apparant in brighter games.

The testclips here are on Left 4 Dead 2, but I've ran the same tests on CS:GO, which is a pretty bright game. CS:GO appeared to be less demanding on the bitrate, which is understanding because most of the colors just blend in, making blurriness harder to spot. An extra thing I'd like to add is that increasing the constrast by 2-6, depending on the image received from the Game does actually "mask" a bit of pixelation. Granted, it makes things a bit darker, but if you stay on 2-3 there's only a small difference.

The difference between these two games and CoD is definitely a bit bigger as CoD simply has a more "complex" image during the encoding.

As for ZeroTalent, I'll get on that for you. This will also answer if the Live Gamer HD simply has it easier than the rest of the capture methods.
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- Input-output, splitters, virtual/physical setups
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My Guides:
- Bitrates & Presets
- GrooveShark XSplit Overlay
- AVerMedia Live Gamer HD Guide
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by SwiftWave » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:50 pm

Okay, apparently my videos are gone.. That's just awesome.

Edit; I'll redo these videos soon, I'll make to use a clip with more motion.
High/Advanced Experience with:
- AVerMedia Live Gamer HD
- BlackMagic Intensity Pro
- Input-output, splitters, virtual/physical setups
- XSplit
- Single-PC Setup & Dual PC-Setup

My Guides:
- Bitrates & Presets
- GrooveShark XSplit Overlay
- AVerMedia Live Gamer HD Guide
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Kuratchi » Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:35 am

Buffer the same as bitrate? Wouldn't it be better to double the buffer?
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Sapiens » Sun Oct 21, 2012 6:44 am

Kuratchi wrote:Buffer the same as bitrate? Wouldn't it be better to double the buffer?

Read about how the two settings work at https://www.xsplit.com/blog.php?post_id=305 - there isn't a "this way is better than that way" answer. :)
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Kuratchi » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:06 am

Sapiens wrote:
Kuratchi wrote:Buffer the same as bitrate? Wouldn't it be better to double the buffer?

Read about how the two settings work at https://www.xsplit.com/blog.php?post_id=305 - there isn't a "this way is better than that way" answer. :)
Just read through it. So in all honesty, it really doesn't matter what the buffer is?
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by MLGUmbra » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:46 am

Yes I love this Chart a lot, but I have a few comments and questions. On Twitch for Non Partnered Channel we are not able to truly stream at 720p or above (from what I'm told from a Twitch Admin), so what is the next best thing for Non Partnered Streams to stream at? Like 480p if so what would be the Best Frame Rate and settings to have a great quality stream until partnered? Please Help me
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by ECGxFranky » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:13 am

@SwiftWave

Not sure if you have been streaming recently but Twitch is changing the site. Looks like the default window is much closer to 720p as it is quite large. If you have not tested this out yet, its only available for broadcasters so we can start making the necessary changes.

So I am requesting if you will make a new guide or adjust this one accordingly? I found it quite useful. Thanks!
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Sapiens » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:35 am

MLGUmbra wrote:On Twitch for Non Partnered Channel we are not able to truly stream at 720p or above

I'm a bit late here but I wanted to point out that this is incorrect, non-partner channels on Twitch are not restricted to sub-720p resolutions.

ECGxFranky wrote:So I am requesting if you will make a new guide or adjust this one accordingly? I found it quite useful. Thanks!

It's just a bigger 16:9 window, nothing needs to be modified on the broadcasting end of things.
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by ECGxFranky » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:12 am

ECGxFranky wrote:So I am requesting if you will make a new guide or adjust this one accordingly? I found it quite useful. Thanks!

It's just a bigger 16:9 window, nothing needs to be modified on the broadcasting end of things.[/quote]

That cant be right. If I am reading this correctly, he suggested these bitrates for default channel view. Meaning it looks really good in its small parameters. Of course that doesn't look as great on full screen but that was not what the guide was before.

Now the new window is around twice the size of the last one which could show more pixelation then before. Because I have the window up on another computer so I can mod my own channel, I know for sure that we need to up the bitrate to ensure quality is still there.

So far I am streaming at 720p/60fps on Medium Preset. I ran a few tests myself tonight and it starts to clear up around 2250. I ran small 50 second tests at 1750,2000,2250,2500,2750 and 3000. I don't have a really good eye and not sure what to look for but my comparison was of a shot that was looking at some vending machines. As the bitrate increased, it became easier to read the graphics on the vending machine.

I was doing the same thing with Forza Horizon and the signs planted everywhere before I found this guide.
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Sapiens » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:48 am

The default video window's size is unchanged in the new Twitch layout. You have to click the arrow in the upper right corner of the frame to expand it. I suppose if you want to adjust your stream settings for that expanded view then you've already found the secret: increase the bitrate until you're satisfied with the quality. There aren't any magic bitrate numbers that will work best for everyone.

Edit: Oops I was wrong. There is no default size, it's selected automatically based on the size of your browser window.
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by WellOfWishes » Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:04 am

I usually stream PS3 games at 720p60, quality 10, medium preset, bitrate 5000. Audio is AAC 128kbit. It works fine on my system (listed on the right).
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by AndehX » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:40 pm

wow, i was excited when I started reading this guide, then I realized all the links to the videos are dead, and a little bit of me died inside....
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by RazorFyre » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:46 pm

AndehX wrote:wow, i was excited when I started reading this guide, then I realized all the links to the videos are dead, and a little bit of me died inside....


lol same here - It was a really good idea. Very glad OP put some descriptions about the results though
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by ScubaDog2011 » Sat Dec 22, 2012 5:17 am

I feel like a portion of your user base is kind of left out with the various guides. Not everyone uses XSplit for gaming. A number of us are doing live video podcasting (similar to TWiT), so most of the discussion doesn't seem helpful. I'd love to see more examples done with multiple cameras, mixing boards versus camera mics, etc. I suspect my setup isn't terribly atypical of my type of podcast. I know I'm running my system on the ragged edge, so any tweak might give me a little bit of breathing room. Feeding three HD webcams (two LifeCam Studio and oneLifeCam Cinema) in 720p mode, three mics processed through a Behringer board w/USB interface, as well as scenes with video or screen regions viewing web videos, puts everything through the ringer. And then there's the specter of adding Skype video calls into that (which currently doesn't seem to like me pumping HD from XSplit to it). Obviously, this all places a number of competing demands on both the system and the software. And I think what I'm getting as the end result (I both record and stream the podcasts at the same time) is pretty decent, but the various discussions and examples aren't as helpful as they otherwise might be if we could see someone doing something along the lines of my setup, someone who really knows their stuff with XSplit like you folks clearly do, we could really benefit from it.
I have yet to see any podcasting software that provides the capability that XSplit does for nearly this reasonable a price. I think you'd have to buy a Tricaster in order to get something like this. It's a great product, and I'd just like to maximize my use of it. I often tell viewers about XSplit, bragging about how good it is.
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by Sapiens » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:24 am

ScubaDog2011 wrote:I feel like a portion of your user base is kind of left out with the various guides. Not everyone uses XSplit for gaming. A number of us are doing live video podcasting (similar to TWiT), so most of the discussion doesn't seem helpful.

The general ideas presented in this thread and many of our other guides can usually be applied to any type of stream, the examples given here just happen to be of high motion sources. You adjust the level of compression to match what your CPU is capable of without maxing it out or starving other applications of resources. You adjust the bitrate to meet your quality needs without exceeding your upstream bandwidth and your average viewer's downstream bandwidth. It takes some trial and error but the overall process is the same.

You mentioned using three HD webcams, three mics through a Behringer board, multiple screen regions, etc. It's all just source material, and the different devices all consume some of your system resources which you need to account for, just as you would with a game. Which aspect of encoding would you like to see discussed that hasn't been so far?
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Re: Bitrates & Presets [720p & 1080p]

by NovaWar » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:43 am

Related to this I seem to be having some issues with a dual PC set up getting a 3770k to encode at anything slower than Faster for 1080p@30. The cpu simply spikes to 100% in spots at Fast and below, and thus gives stutter to the stream.

I didn't think that could possibly be an issue given a dual pc environment. Any ideas on why the 3770k is having so much trouble? Will an OC help or is a hexa core really necessary even in a dual PC environment for Fast and Medium presets? Thread about this issue also here:

http://www.xsplit.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=91&t=17725

Thanks!
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