Archive for codec

Adobe e Seminar – Editing for the Web

Posted in Connect Recordings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2009 by evanbutson

Here’s the link to my latest Connect Session, editing for the web.

H.264 the CODEC to rule all CODECSs?

Posted in Technology with tags , , , , on July 3, 2009 by evanbutson

For a long time now there has been a major battle of CODEC’s, for different purposes you would choose different CODECS, if you were delivering to the web you might choose FLASH, for DVD’s you would choose MPEG 2, CD-ROMS might make use of Quicktimes and cellphones, had a variety of propriety CODECs. This meant that not only did an editor need to know how to edit, but they had to be a master compressionist, knowing a wide variety of CODECs and their uses. However, recently, there has been a new CODEC that seems to possibly fit the bill as the CODEC of choice for the vast majority of cases, that CODEC is H.264. So why is H.264 so great, well to quote the creators of DIVX ‘the standard’s flexible bit stream control enables H.264 to deliver high-quality video to a variety of devices ranging from low-powered cell phones to high-powered Blu-ray devices. That’s why the H.264 standard is set to supersede some of the formats that are commonplace today such as DV, the standard used by many consumer video cameras, and MPEG-2, the standard for DVD video and some types of cable TV and digital broadcast. In a nutshell, H.264 is suited to any platform — handheld to high def.’

This means that the one compression format can be used to deliver a file suitable for playing back on a cellphone, another that is suitable for an iPod or Sony PSP, another that is suitable for playback within a FLASH presentation via F4v FLASH files all the way up to BluRay. Tricky isnt it.

Now chances are you have seen H.264 before and havnt even known, most Podcasts that are comressed for delivery to iPod videos and iPhones use H.264 compression (in fact when you watch a YouTube video on an iPhone, as the iPhone doesnt have FLASH support, you are actually watching a H.264 file.)

So, wow, H.264 is awesome and will rule the world right? Well not exactly, there are still some issues, the first being cameras. All those new snazyy small solid state video cameras that record to AVCHD actually compress the files with a version of H.264, problem is, H.264 is easier to read than it is to write, (ever tried to export a file to H.264, those render times are fun right) well, as most editing and effects are effectively the process of decompression a video, creating an effect (say a transition) an then re-encoding the file again back to the compression format, editing H.264 or AVCHD files is, for want of a better word, a pain in the ass.

Then their is compression, those of us used to faster than real-time encodes to MPEG2, FLASH etc, will discover that high quality H.264 compression, even on a fast system, takes time. As with MPEG2, and MPEG 1 before it, there are hardware options out there to offload the task to specialized chips. Matrox has their Max (not to be confused with the MAX options for the DigiSuite of years gone by) and their are plug-ins for NVIDIA and ATI graphics cards that can make use of the GPU on your graphics cards to accelerate encoding.

So if you deliver video, in any way shape or form, I highly recommend you get to know H.264 in all its incarnations, a good start is here, this Primer from Adobe gives you a good overview