I'm compressing video for IPods and wondering if anyone has an opinion about H264 vs. other codecs. H264 seems to take longer than I'd like to process the video. What is an alternative compression codec that still maintains the high quality?
Well, there is Windows Media VC-1, DivX 6, Real 10, and Flash 8. The quality you get from all of these "next-gen" codecs is pretty comparable, with positives and negatives for each. I don't really think there is any one or two codecs that truly dominate the others right now in all facets. Flash has a lot of support for free web-based videos, and VC-1 has good support for the paid, subscription, and physical media deliveries, while H.264 has gained good support in the STB and portable player arena.
It should be noted that speed is really a relative thing that can fluctuate greatly from one encoding app to the other. If you are on a mac, I have found the H.264 encoding capabilities of VisualHub to be very impressive. The latest version, 1.21, has some reworkings that make it slower (but with better quality) than the previous version, but the developer says that the next version of the app should be back on track in speed as it was with 1.20. v1.20 could encode max-res video for the iPod from 720p sources in about 4x/pass, and the quality at the 1Mbps bit rate is phenomenal.