What's the difference between 2nd pass and two pass in h.264 encoders? Which one is the better? There are (at least) three main encoding options in many h.264 encoders: 1st pass 2nd pass and two pass. I know that 2nd pass and two pass are not the same.
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I'm surprised you weren't able to answer this by doing some simple search,...
encoders normally have:1. one pass encoding methods (average bitrate, constant quantizer, constant rate factor and similar)
2. n-pass encoding methods, which consist of two passes, a first pass which is normally done to collect a bunch of statistical data (possible, key frame positioning, some complexity measurement etc.) and following passes which use the data from the previous pass to archive a better rate control. If the used encoding method supports more than two passes, all passes will update the statistical data file. (for most encoders more than two passes are a waist of time)
Note that due to the nature of rate control only with n-pass encoding it is possible to in example archive a specific file size and at the same time try to optimize the quality.
1st pass = the first pass of a n-pass encoding scheme
2nd pass = 2nd pass of a n-pass encoding scheme (requires that a first pass was run before, so that a statistical data file is present)
two pass = a special mode offered by most guis which will run the 1st and 2nd pass automatically one after another, so that the user does not have to start them manually.