Hmm, that’s a little unsettling. If file size goes down, then quality can’t go up by much without eating into the space savings. Is it possible to visually compare H.264 and H.265 recordings of the same flight path? That would answer whether H.265 improves quality or just reduces file size. Tests would need to be done on both moving and still footage.
Sorry, I must be missing the question. What was the query? With YouTube, generally speaking, so long as a file is uploaded with sufficient quality to gracefully survive one generation of re-encoding, then that’s the best that can be done. The actual format is immaterial, since nearly all modern formats can achieve equal quality if given sufficient bitrates.
Unfortunately, H.265 is dead in the water because its patent situation is so absurdly complex that few companies risked touching it. It’s been around for seven years, and in some notable places has an adoption rate of only 12% compared to H.264 at 84%, and H.264 dates back to 2003! Details are at the top of page 3 in the following PDF by the IBC. This PDF also describes the origin story of the new EVC format, and is a very worthwhile read to anyone interested in the future of video encoding:
To fix the legal disaster of H.265/HEVC, three new codecs were released this year by MPEG:
VVC: Compresses better than HEVC (approaches AV1), but costs money to distribute videos encoded with it
EVC: Has similar compression to HEVC while also encoding much faster, and comes in two flavors… Baseline profile which is free to use even commercially whereas Main profile compresses a little better but costs money to distribute videos
LCEVC (technically not a new codec, but still a new standard): Most likely to be used by streaming providers to reduce bandwidth, but not likely to be used for stand-alone video editor output. LCEVC is a process that combines two streams (a base layer and a detail enhancement layer), which is useful for adjusting detail (resolution) while streaming, but overkill for a standalone video file.
In my personal opinion (which counts for nothing haha), MPEG got it right this round. The legal and patent structure is efficient and reasonable, which was completely broken in HEVC. And with EVC Baseline being a totally free option, I can see it becoming very popular among independent producers. If these formats catch on, there will be little incentive for any software or hardware vendors to add support for H.265 to anything that didn’t already have it. H.265 growth would likely halt in favor of the new codecs that replace it, which have equal/better/faster compression and less royalty complexity.
Back to the original issue of future-proofing video… I’m trying to suggest that the industry isn’t coherent enough for true future-proofing to be possible. MPEG’s new standards are extremely ambitious and aggressive, and completely wipe out the advantages of older formats (assuming they become widely adopted). However, we can’t encode in these new formats yet because FFmpeg doesn’t have support for them (the codecs were only finalized two months ago), which in turn means Shotcut doesn’t support them until FFmpeg does. So we’re in a limbo state right now.
The number of relevant delivery formats is currently dizzying, but also understandable if given the background:
H.264: still the ultimate fallback option due to ubiquitous support and hardware acceleration
H.265: on track to get completely replaced by VVC and EVC
VP9: a decent option for now since it’s free and often hardware accelerated, but will likely be completely replaced by the also-free EVC Baseline codec (which also encodes faster)
VVC: intended to be the go-to format for anyone distributing video and willing to pay for the best
EVC Main: not quite VVC quality and size, but encodes much faster (and costs money to distribute)
EVC Baseline: likely to be the go-to royalty-free format that’s ideal for home users and independent low-budget producers
LCEVC: likely to be used by streaming platforms
AV1: was supposed to be the format to end all formats, but appears to be crumbling since encoding is still incredibly slow and a patent pool has started around it, negating its “open” primary appeal (search “Sisvel AV1 patent pool”)
Basically, “future-proof” is dicey because the future is already chaos. All we can do is pick a format that’s popular enough to be around for awhile and also encodes to a quality level that meets our requirements. Many codecs fit that bill, and H.264 is potentially the most future-proof of all right now because of its sheer popularity and widespread support that cannot be undone overnight.
Since H.265 is already baked into a lot of hardware for decoding, existing support is unlikely to be dropped. So encoding to it would be fine. But if you ever wanted to sell a video you made, you would have to pay for distributing H.264 or H.265. That’s where VP9 and EVC Baseline become more attractive options. If you aren’t selling and merely encoding home videos or uploading to YouTube, then YouTube pays the royalties, so it legally doesn’t matter what you use.
Personally, I will be targeting EVC Baseline when it becomes available. It has excellent compression and encoding speed while also being royalty-free, meaning I can do anything I want with my videos and not have to contact any lawyers or royalty pools. That’s the kind of future I want.
Sorry for the long response that gave way more detail than requested, but this was a chance to introduce VVC and EVC to the forum since nobody’s talked about them yet and these formats should be a big deal pretty soon.