Step 4: MeGUI: Video Encoding Options
We'll now set up the H.264 encoding options in the x264 encoder. This step has the most options to configure, and this is where Xbox 360 compatibility is determined. This guide won't go into detail about all the options, just the ones you need to ensure Xbox 360 compatibility - and if you need further explanation of the options, refer to our x264 Options Explained article.
In the MeGUI "Input" section, select one of the "x264" profiles for the "Encoder setting" option. We do not need to set a container as we will do that later using the "AutoEncode" function.
Xbox 360's H.264 video support is limited to the following (you don't need to understand what it all means):
- AVC Profile: Baseline, Main or High Profiles
- Maximum bitrate: 10 Mbps (although testing shows stuttering only occuring above 20 Mbps)
- AVC Level: 4.1
- No B-Pyramid and P4x4 support
The "x264: Xbox 360" set of profile is the one that we need and using this one will ensure compatibility with the Xbox 360. If you want to be able to set the output file size, you need to select the "2-pass" profile - all the other profiles will have unpredictable output file sizes as they're either based on encoding speed or output quality. For example, "Balanced" will give you a good balance between encoding speed and quality, but you can choose something like "High Quality" for that extra bit of quality, or "Insane" if you don't mind spending hours to encode just a few minutes of video.
The problem with both of these profiles, however, is that they are all High Profile profiles, meaning that software like Zune will not support them (the second section of this guide will cover how to connect your Xbox 360 to your PC so you can play/stream files off it, and using Zune is one of the options). This is easily solved though, because you can press the "Config" button to open the profile editing area. Next, select one of the Xbox 360 profiles, depending on which you want to edit. Change the "AVC Profile" setting to "Main" or "Baseline". Then press the "New" button, and enter in a new name for the profile.
We can determine which of these profiles we should use for our encoding. You can use the Baseline profile for all encodes, it's the fastest and it will be the most compatible. Using the Main Profile will improve quality (at the expense of encoding speed, and some compatibility issues). Using one of the "High Profile" profiles will further improve quality (and reduce encoding speed), but compatibility might be an issue (we had no playback problems once we disabled "B-Pryamid"). The main compatibility issue is that High Profile files will not show up in the Zune software, and therefore, not show up on the Xbox 360 for playback - the only way around this at the moment is to copy the file to a USB drive or CD/DVD media and play the file from there (hopefully a software fix will solve this problem in Zune).
It is recommended that you use one of the "High Profile" profiles, as this would ensure maximum quality. You can always share the file with your console using TVersity, which will support High Profile encodes.
Select the profile you want to use from the "Video Profiles" drop down menu.