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H.264 vs x264

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Brent Streeper
H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 6:28:04 pm

Hi,

I've heard that x264 is superior to h264, and I was wondering if anyone here could back up that claim.

The Apple trailers are what got me wondering about this. To me, trailers on the Apple site represent the gold standard of web compression. I've downloaded some of them and, according to the inspector, it looks like they're all using straight up h264.

And does anybody know what compression software is typically being used for trailers?

Thanks!
Brent



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Craig Seeman
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 6:37:55 pm

Things are a bit more complex than that comparison but generally Apple's H.264 is about dead last in quality. Keep in mind that they may be doing multipass encodes to get to that point (assuming they're using their own codec) whereas some H.264 codecs may match or at least come close on a single and definitely and exceed it on two pass.

Just off the top of my head (in no particular order) there's:
Matrox MAX H.264
Main Concept
Dicas
X.264
Apple

Apple's is the worst of the lot though.



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Daniel Low
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 8:17:55 pm

x264 is Open source, where as H.264 is commercially licensed by the MPEG LA.

No commercial software can use x264 without itself becoming Open source.

x264 is considered the best out there but you have to be something of an expert in the coding parameters to get the best out of it, despite there being a number of decent front end GUIs for it.

Unless you are pushing the extremes of low bitrates with complex material, you find there's not much in it between x264 and the better codecs from the likes of Main Concept and Dicas.

Remember there's more to encoding/transcoding than the codec, there's also scaling, deinterlacing, colour space conversion and so on. Those are handled by the rest of the compression software

There is also of course Ateme, which although of great visual quality, is stupidly expensive and the software was clearly designed by blind alligator (or similar)

__________________________________________________________________
"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


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Craig Seeman
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 8:58:32 pm

Actually Telestream Episode can access x264. They've had some back and forth with one of the developers and while Episode doesn't have best access to all the feature (no 2 pass yet) they are looking at better support.

As you know Episode also supports Matrox MAX H.264 as well.

It has Dicas H.264 inherintly.

. . . and of course Apple's H.264 (Yuck).

Telestream is really looking at making Episode close to an ultimate 264 encoder.
The idea being you pick your 264 of choice and then have access to Episode's powerful filters to do their stuff.



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Daniel Low
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:17:49 pm

[Craig Seeman] "Actually Telestream Episode can access x264"

How?






__________________________________________________________________
"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


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Craig Seeman
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 10:53:43 pm

If you select Quicktime as the component and you have X.264 installed you should see it. It also accesses MAX H.264 that way.



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Daniel Low
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 15, 2010 at 11:27:09 pm

Ah, so via Quicktime. Unfortunately that codec was last updated in 2006, there have been over 800 revisions to the codec since then, some of them really major updates.

Matrox Max on the other hand is really great if you need stuff fast, but from what I've seen it has a habit of crushing blacks and loosing shadow detail, like the contrast has been over done.

__________________________________________________________________
"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


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Brent Streeper
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 16, 2010 at 12:19:23 am

Thank you both for all of this info. I'm just scratching the surface of web compression so it's nice to know there is a support forum for it here on the COW.

I've downloaded the trial versions of Episode and Main Concept's Reference, so I'll give those a try.

Are the Matrox and Dicas codecs tied directly to their hardware? Or is is possible to download the Matrox Max h264 codec to try out without the hardware accelerator?

I've been experimenting with DVKitchen's x264 encoder and have spent the last few days trying to figure out all of the libavcodec settings and what they all mean.

Thanks!
Brent


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David Chai
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 16, 2010 at 8:13:37 am

There's a new version for download on Apple's download page under video. Follow the link:
http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/x264encoder.html


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Daniel Low
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 16, 2010 at 10:51:09 am

Excellent! I hadn't seen that.

Thanks.

__________________________________________________________________
"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


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Brent Streeper
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 18, 2010 at 8:17:17 pm

Hi Craig,
I downloaded the trial version of Episode and couldn't see any x264 support in it. I've got the new x264Encoder.component installed, but can't find the controls in Episode. I do have access to the x264 controls in Compressor though.
Why does Episode have the Dicas h.264 inherently? Not sure I quite understand the different flavors of 264.
Thanks!
Brent


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Craig Seeman
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 18, 2010 at 8:30:07 pm

Have you set Output to QuickTime?
Once you do that the Video will show as QuickTime Move Settings... and then you have access to your QuickTime codecs. Matrox MAX is accessed the same way.

Telestream when with Dicas for their encoder. It an MainConcept have been the leaders in supporting H.264. There are quite a bit of differences between the codecs (It's what makes H.264 unusual compared to other codecs) some of them involve what features of the H.264 spec are accessible to the developer and end user.

You might want to read the excellent article by Jan Ozer of StreamingMedia on the subject.

The article is a bit long in the tooth now as Dicas has made major improvements in their codec.

So Many H.264 Codecs, So Little Time
http://www.streamingmedia.com/article.asp?id=10570



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Brent Streeper
Re: H.264 vs x264
on Jan 19, 2010 at 1:56:51 am

Thanks Craig!



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