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Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black

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Andrew Saliga
Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 19, 2009 at 10:19:23 pm

I normally use Compressor and Apple's H.264 implementation or DV Kitchen with the x.264 encoder for creating H.264s.

I was drawn to Sorenson for some very specific FLV and WMV encoding needs and have since learned about the Main Concept H.264 encoder.

I've heard that it's a better (more efficient) encoder than Apple's, at least according to Jan Ozer, who I found some links to on the COW forums.

I assume that it's a case of certain implementations have different strengths and weaknesses, but I would like get some opinions.

I'm encoding a video for web with the following specs:

  • H.264 encoder
  • MP4 container
  • 640x360
  • Multi-Pass encoding
  • Data Rate: 1000Kbps
  • Key frame every 100 and auto on scene changes
  • High profile
  • "Best" encoding effort
  • B-Frames at 3
  • CABAC Encoding on



The encode looks great until the end when there is a 15 frame fade to black. The spot closes on an wide aerial shot showing lots of trees. The picture starts to degrade heavily just a few frames before the fade begins.

Is the Main Concept encoder known to have a weakness encoding either areas of high detail or slow fades? I realize that's difficult for any encoder, but are there known shortcomings of this encoder? I like having all the additional features it offers, but regret that Apple's version has produced a clean result this time around.


-Andrew Saliga

Steelehouse Productions
http://www.steelehouse.com (undergoing a much-needed redesign)
http://www.vimeo.com/steelehouse


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Daniel Low
Re: Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 19, 2009 at 11:38:36 pm

[Andrew Saliga] "Key frame every 100 and auto on scene changes"

Try increasing that to be 10x your target frame rate and also try it without Auto on scene changes.

P.s. - Squeeze uses the Main Concept Codec, Episode uses the Dicas H.264 codec which is better than either the Apple one or MainConcept's



__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."
Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"
Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


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Daniel Low
Re: Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 19, 2009 at 11:42:00 pm

P.S - I never use less than a 1 second fade to/from black, preferably longer.

__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."
Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"
Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


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Andrew Saliga
Re: Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:23:38 pm

Thanks for your help (as usual on the compression forum) Daniel.

First about the fade to black...this time around I don't have any control over that one. This was an odd job in the sense that we did all the animatics/previs and then handled all final compression and output of the masters. So this was unusual in the sense we didn't' do the edits.

Back to the topic at hand...

I couldn't get the same results I got yesterday with the horrible compression, possible because today in an attempt to save time during testing I only compressed last 10 seconds or so where the major issue was. My guess is this would change the GOP structure???

I compared turning off the "Auto Key Frame on Scene Change" setting on one compression and on another I left it on and changed my keyframe rate to 10x my framerate.

Turning off "Auto Key Frame on Scene Change" made the greatest difference. With this off, areas of high detail (leaves of trees in an aerial shot) were better preserved than the compression with "Auto Key Frame on Scene Change" on but the key frame rate increased. There was more blockiness in areas of gradual color transitions (a small amount of fog that was partially shaded by a mountain).

In H.264s in Squeeze I have the options of Apple, Main Concept, Sorenson, and also a Sorenson MPEG4 Pro. I've heard Dicas' implementation is good. I know you're a Episode guy, buy do you have any insight/thoughts on the Sorenson MPEG4 Pro?

-Andrew Saliga

Steelehouse Productions
http://www.steelehouse.com (undergoing a much-needed redesign)
http://www.vimeo.com/steelehouse


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Daniel Low
Re: Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:54:37 pm

[Andrew Saliga] "I only compressed last 10 seconds or so where the major issue was. My guess is this would change the GOP structure??? "

Yes

[Andrew Saliga] "Turning off "Auto Key Frame on Scene Change" made the greatest difference"

Interesting and expected, Sorenson seem to have a bad implementation of this technique, they consider scene change only by the difference between a selection of frame difference thresholds and little else. Obviously best left off!

[Andrew Saliga] "In H.264s in Squeeze I have the options of Apple, Main Concept, Sorenson, and also a Sorenson MPEG4 Pro. I've heard Dicas' implementation is good. I know you're a Episode guy, buy do you have any insight/thoughts on the Sorenson MPEG4 Pro? "

I don't know what MPEG-4 Pro is but it sounds like MPEG-4 SP with some tweaks rather than H.264. Of the choice I'd pick MainConcept, I have deep experience of it and it can be great (although maybe not up to Dicas level with difficult situations; complex source at ultra low bit rates, for example

[Andrew Saliga] "I know you're a Episode guy, buy do you have any insight/thoughts on the Sorenson MPEG4 Pro? "

I'm not an Episode guy, but I do find it the best all-round transcoder on the Mac. For MPEG-4 and H.264, Handbrake and ffmpegX are the best on the Mac.

FWIW, the best transcoder on the market is made by Rhozet.



__________________________________________________________________
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."
Steve Ballmer To USA Today: 30 April 2007

"We and Apple are neck and neck and we're chasing the two
other players,"
Steve Ballmer, referring to Nokia and Research in Motion. October 6th 2009


Return to posts index

Andrew Saliga
Re: Main Concept H.264 vs. Apple H.264 on Video with 15 Frame Fade to Black
on Nov 23, 2009 at 3:54:37 pm

So the best MPEG-4 encoding tools on a Mac are open source ones? You think these are more efficient encoders than Squeeze or Episode?

-Andrew Saliga

Steelehouse Productions
http://www.steelehouse.com (undergoing a much-needed redesign)
http://www.vimeo.com/steelehouse


Return to posts index

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