Jump to content


Photo

H.264 vs. Sorenson3


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3057 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 11 November 2005 - 03:53 PM

Apologies if I'm asking this question in the wrong place. I've heard a lot about H.264 and it's incredible quality. I've watched a number of film trailers encoded in this way, and the quality has been amazing considering the small file sizes. However, when I'm encoding my own stuff, H.264 doesn't seem quite as good, in fact I'm finding that good old Sorenson 3 has got the edge in a lot of ways.

I'm not the most computer-savvy person in the world, so it's probably something I'm doing wrong. Does anyone have any pointers for getting the most out of H.264?

Thanks.
  • 0

#2 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 11 November 2005 - 05:11 PM

Stuart,

This may be the wrong place to inquire about this. Try forums on creativecow.com. I have used Sorenson 3 and like it alot but have yet to use the new codec but am impressed by what I have seen on Apples website. I am far from a professional "compressionist" but many of the movie trailers we see may be using top of the line computers and hardware compression tools that achieve far greater results than what you or I could do at home using just software compression tools.

Best

Tim
  • 0

#3 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 12 November 2005 - 08:11 AM

For it's size, H264 is unbeatable. I'm re-recoding all my films on my website in H264 simply because they're so much smaller.

I'll give you an example: I used to encode Sorenson3 in 12 fps to save space. Now, even though I encode my new material in 25fps in H264, the file is less than half the size of the old Sorenson one.

My only gripe is that the sound compression has to be done using other algorithms. I'm currently using AAC (mp3) at 128kbit/s, which sounds pretty good (like most mp3 songs, basically). I used to use Qulcomm compression, but the sound often got tinny and bad.
  • 0

#4 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11937 posts
  • Other

Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:02 AM

Hi,

H.264 is the ITU-T designation for the ISO/IEC standard MPEG-4 part 10, so in essence. H.264 is MPEG-4. MPEG-4 is very clever indeed, continuing the progression from 1 and 2 (there is no 3) by adding still more ways to map old picture data into new picture data without having to store more than a few transform commands. Sorenson 3 works similarly, in that macroblocks are stored as the quantised long decimal result of a discrete cosine transform, but since Sorenson have long considered the internals of the codec to be a trade secret it's difficult to be more specific than "similar to H.264", as reported by dedicated reverse-engineers. In preference, the open standard would be more universally playable, especially now Apple have included H.264 in Quicktime 7, now available for Mac and Windows - previously the only thing to reccommend Sorenson was that it was the best codec available for the easily-deployed Quicktime architecture.

Phil

PS - Oh, by the way, the H.264 encoder in Quicktime 7 is abysmal.
  • 0

#5 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 12 November 2005 - 01:28 PM

PS - Oh, by the way, the H.264 encoder in Quicktime 7 is abysmal.


Hi Phil,

I was trying H.264 from QT7 and gave up as it was so bad. I am pleased I was not doing anything wrong!

Cheers,

Stephen
  • 0

#6 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3057 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 November 2005 - 11:19 AM

I'm glad it's not just me that is having trouble with the Quicktime H.264 encoder. Any recommendations for a better software solution?
  • 0

#7 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11937 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 November 2005 - 11:42 AM

Hi,

A lot of people are just sticking with Sorenson for this reason, Sorenson being based on what the MPEG-4 working group were proposing in the mid-90s.

There are many excellent MPEG-4 encoders. Windows Media 9 (which is sort of largely more or less MPEG-4) is superbly good, whatever you think of Microsoft, and a number of the free Windows AVI codecs (DivX, Xvid) are good, especially in 2-pass VBR. There are opensource solutions (of iffy, or sometimes downright black-hat legality) for both encode and decode. The problem is that none of these are as easily deployable as Quicktime, even Windows Media 9 is hidebound by obviously platform-partisan commercialist maneuvering and the AVI codecs, while excellent, often require manual installation since Microsoft refuse to make a codec that supports them available to Media Player via the automatic codec download mechanism.

This is one area of computing that is really being clobbered by the increasinly overt commercialism of OS manufacturers and the machinations of outfits like the RIAA as they try to influence the development of technology. The technology exists to do web video simply and very very well, but it's being tied up by politics and greed. Microsoft released Windows Media, er, was it 7 with the MPEG-4 codec locked out of making AVI movies - you could only create windows media format, with the resulting impression that Windows Media is great. Actually, they're standing on the shoulders of giants and pissing down the backs of their necks - MPEG-4 is great, but Microsoft didn't develop it; they just bound it up in proprietary drivel and tried to stop people using it for what they really wanted.

Computing in general has plummeted downhill in this regard since the release of Windows XP, and the trend looks set to continue. It's good to see that HD-DVD will (optionally) use the codec, though.

Phil
  • 0

#8 Gordon Highland

Gordon Highland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • Director
  • Kansas City

Posted 13 November 2005 - 05:40 PM

One problem is that not a ton of people are on QT7 yet, so I personally would avoid H.264 unless you know exactly who your audience is. I stick with Sorenson3 for this reason for now. Actually, if you're looking for the widest compatibility, forget both of them and create SWF movies, cuz Flash Player is on more browsers than either QT or WM.

I like On2 a lot, but it requires Flash8 Player (too new for many people) and right now I can only do single-pass with it. But it's extremely efficient when it comes to file size.
  • 0

#9 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11937 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 November 2005 - 08:24 PM

Hi,

Flash video is Sorenson...

Phil
  • 0

#10 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 13 November 2005 - 09:27 PM

One problem is that not a ton of people are on QT7 yet, so I personally would avoid H.264 unless you know exactly who your audience is. I stick with Sorenson3 for this reason for now. Actually, if you're looking for the widest compatibility, forget both of them and create SWF movies, cuz Flash Player is on more browsers than either QT or WM.

I like On2 a lot, but it requires Flash8 Player (too new for many people) and right now I can only do single-pass with it. But it's extremely efficient when it comes to file size.


This has always annoyed me to no end. QT7, or whatever media player one chooses, are FREE and can be installed in a second. I don't want to point the dirty finger in any specific direction, but it seems that Microsoft users are the main culprits in this area. Half of them are still on Win98 and then they wonder why they're QT7 doesn't play the latest trailers in HD? Seriously, how hard is it to install QT7....

I've now coded all my films on my website in H264 which needs 7. I know many people are not going to be able to access stuff on the site (yeah, like they'd die if they didn't see some crappy music video of mine...
:P ), but I can't cater to everyone.
  • 0

#11 Gordon Highland

Gordon Highland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • Director
  • Kansas City

Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:33 PM

Flash video is Sorenson...


Yes, you use the app Sorenson Squeeze to create the Flash video, but you can create an MOV or WMV with the Sorenson codec as well, so they're not really the same when you consider what's required to play them. FLV, SWF, MOV, WMV, etc all require different players on the user's end, yet are created with the same tool.

And to Adam's point, there are very good reasons why people don't have the latest version of Quicktime on any particular day. QT is in many ways the backbone of my media workstation, which is running like 15 different apps that rely upon it. But I'm not necessarily ready to upgrade every piece of software i have just to be on QT7 now (which I'm not). I upgrade to QT7 and suddenly ProTools doesn't work, or maybe an older version of Final Cut Pro, or I gotta go hunt down a bunch of drivers or something. I know that's not literally the case for all apps, and it's less of an issue in the post-OS X world, but it's a major problem if the business day stalls for something like this.

Also, some people work for large companies (or even small ones) where their system image is mandated or administered elsewhere, and they can't just make these upgrades indiscriminately (for good reason, including quality control). At my day job, my encoded clips go out to about 60,000 employees, and if I do them in Flash8, only a handful of people will see them, and they're probably the ones sitting next to me. Bandwidth limitations are what really chap MY hide. . .
  • 0

#12 Charlie Seper

Charlie Seper
  • Guests

Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:41 PM

I personally will stick with wmv files for the time being. They look as good as anything out there and more people can view them than anything else. Even if they're using an older version of Windows, they still may have downloaded a newer version of IE, and MS has made IE able to integrate video into the browser for the past few years now. If my site stats mean anything, there's an awful lot of people playing movies through the IE web browser.

Also, I love working with Flash but I avoid incorporating movies in the Flash player simply because it just makes the movie take that much longer to start streaming, making it a nuisance to most people visiting a site. (Your web browser first has to tell your computer to access the Flash player, and the Flash Player in turn has to see the code for the video and decide what to do with it before it ever starts streaming). Better to just give an url for the video clip and let people stream with Media Player or via the browser window if they have that inabled. If its a wmv coded movie then most people will be able to view it fine and this is the fastest way to go for them.

I've always hated that crummy Quicktime movie player. Not only is it an amatuer looking eyesore but it's features are difficult for most people to get a handle on. WMP is a breeze unless you're trying to create a song list....
  • 0

#13 barryagilbert

barryagilbert
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 37 posts
  • Producer
  • New York City

Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:55 PM

H.264 is fantastic especially given the expansion of Broadband but I have found that many people do not have a current enough version of Quicktime to play it back. Same with Flash 8 - although I'm starting to offer versions in taht format because of its rapid adoption.

It's also rather tricky to set up an automatic version detector, which would be very helpful. A year from now life will be beautiful when most people have caught up.

I personally will stick with wmv files for the time being. They look as good as anything out there and more people can view them than anything else. Even if they're using an older version of Windows, they still may have downloaded a newer version of IE, and MS has made IE able to integrate video into the browser for the past few years now. If my site stats mean anything, there's an awful lot of people playing movies through the IE web browser.

Also, I love working with Flash but I avoid incorporating movies in the Flash player simply because it just makes the movie take that much longer to start streaming, making it a nuisance to most people visiting a site. (Your web browser first has to tell your computer to access the Flash player, and the Flash Player in turn has to see the code for the video and decide what to do with it before it ever starts streaming). Better to just give an url for the video clip and let people stream with Media Player or via the browser window if they have that inabled. If its a wmv coded movie then most people will be able to view it fine and this is the fastest way to go for them.

I've always hated that crummy Quicktime movie player. Not only is it an amatuer looking eyesore but it's features are difficult for most people to get a handle on. WMP is a breeze unless you're trying to create a song list....


  • 0

#14 Charlie Seper

Charlie Seper
  • Guests

Posted 14 November 2005 - 03:56 PM

BTW, I'm assuming that most of the people posting and/or reading this post were referring to typical low-band Internet movies, however, there's an interesting, though not sciency, web page here comparing the WMV-HD and the Quicktime H.264 high-def versions of the these codecs. Their findings were based more around CPU lodes and Macs/PC's rather than a visual difference in the codecs (which they admit look about the same).

H.264 content on your PC
  • 0

#15 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3057 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 14 November 2005 - 04:51 PM

There are many excellent MPEG-4 encoders. Windows Media 9 (which is sort of largely more or less MPEG-4) is superbly good, whatever you think of Microsoft, and a number of the free Windows AVI codecs (DivX, Xvid) are good, especially in 2-pass VBR.


I've seen some great looking WMV files (the BMW films, for instance, look great) but unfortunately I'm Mac based, and Microsoft has understandably not been too bothered with updating their Media Player for OS X. The H.264 encoder in QT7 is, as Phil points out, awful, and Cleaner 6 doesn't seem to know what to do about H.264. It recognises the CoDec, but returns errors every time I try to use it.

So, what are Mac users out there using to encode H.264? Is there any software for OS X that can do it well, or should I just stick with Sorensen until Apple get their act together and put a decent encoder into Quicktime?
  • 0

#16 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 14 November 2005 - 06:29 PM

So, what are Mac users out there using to encode H.264? Is there any software for OS X that can do it well, or should I just stick with Sorensen until Apple get their act together and put a decent encoder into Quicktime?


First I don't agree that QT7 is a bad encoder in H264 at all. And secondly - Compressor is a very able program that can copmress any format. I love the speed and user-friendliness of Compressor, but the files QT7 produce are much slimmer.

Cleaner is dead as a software since Discreet bought it. It never was very good or fast anyway. Compressor blows it away in speed.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 14 November 2005 - 06:29 PM.

  • 0

#17 Brian Wells

Brian Wells
  • Sustaining Members
  • 438 posts
  • Other

Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:50 PM

Flash video is Sorenson...


If you weren't already aware, Flash8 also offers the VP6 codec from On2. It's important to think about all the new codecs and players from a user interface point of view. H.264 can look very good, but it requires the user to download a 20+ MB software program to view the files! Flash8 Player, on the other hand, is a 1MB download... which is one of the reasons I think it's a good choice.

Here is some info about On2/VP6:
http://www.on2.com/technology/vp6/
http://www.on2.com/t...gy/on2-vs-h264/

Also, FWIW, I have had only the most positive experience with H.264 using the QT encoder on a Mac (both progressive and interlaced). Based on what I've heard from Phil and other PC users, I wonder if the PC implementation may be a little different and not have as many customizations as the Mac?

I don't want to point the dirty finger in any specific direction, but it seems that Microsoft users are the main culprits in this area. Half of them are still on Win98 and then they wonder why they're QT7 doesn't play the latest trailers in HD? Seriously, how hard is it to install QT7....

Pretty hard unless they're using Windows 2000/XP. Quicktime 7 will not run on Windows 98! (I just checked Apple's specs to verify this, http://www.apple.com...nload/win.html)
  • 0

#18 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3057 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 15 November 2005 - 01:25 PM

First I don't agree that QT7 is a bad encoder in H264 at all. And secondly - Compressor is a very able program that can copmress any format. I love the speed and user-friendliness of Compressor, but the files QT7 produce are much slimmer.

Cleaner is dead as a software since Discreet bought it. It never was very good or fast anyway. Compressor blows it away in speed.


Maybe I should persevere with QT7. Compressor doesn't work for me. All I get is an error 'Cannot connect to background action' or something. It's a well known conflict which Apple have done precisely nothing to solve, and it means that a large part of their flagship media package doesn't work- at all!

I always liked Cleaner, the presets return really nice results, but the fact that they still haven't produced a work around to deal with h.264 doesn't say much for their R&D. ho hum...
  • 0

#19 Gordon Highland

Gordon Highland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • Director
  • Kansas City

Posted 15 November 2005 - 02:03 PM

Compressor doesn't work for me. All I get is an error 'Cannot connect to background action' or something.


I used to have this problem, too. I believe it might've had to do with the install order. Did you install FCP before DVD Studio Pro? If I remember correctly, I THINK it has to be the other way around for Compressor to work properly.
  • 0

#20 Brian Wells

Brian Wells
  • Sustaining Members
  • 438 posts
  • Other

Posted 15 November 2005 - 02:56 PM

It's a well known conflict which Apple have done precisely nothing to solve

RTFM!
http://docs.info.app...ml?artnum=93234
  • 0


CineLab

Abel Cine

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineTape

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

FJS International, LLC

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

Metropolis Post

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

CineLab

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Visual Products

The Slider

Opal

Aerial Filmworks