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View Full Version : What is the best video compression format in your opinion?




macphoria
Oct 5, 2003, 01:31 AM
What is the best video compression format in your opinion?

Sorenson 3?

DivX?

MPEG-4?

Which format offers best quality with smallest file size?



advres
Oct 5, 2003, 02:13 AM
what are you compressing for? web transfer? DVD? - certain things work better for certain uses.

Makosuke
Oct 5, 2003, 08:03 AM
Agreed--it depends entirely on what you're compressing for. Some things are designed for low-bandwidth use, others are great for uber-quality. That's why there are so many formats.

Now, if you're talking about the standard "good quality in a reasonable amount of space" type of compression for videos and that sort of thing (the 240X320 - fullscreen size range, bitrates in the 100-300K/s range), then the choices are slimmer.

The current choices for best quality are probably:
Apple-style MP4 (actually only one of the video compression codecs available in MP4)
DivX
XviD
3ivx
Sorenson 3

As I understand it (though I'm far from an expert) DivX, XviD, and "MP4" are all now accepted parts of the MPEG4 spec (3ivx might even be, too). They're all fairly similar in terms of potential quality, though, and use similar styles of compression. I think (not positive) that new versions of any of those codecs will work on the others--if you've got the DivX codec installed in QuickTime, you can watch XviD video, for example.

In my personal experience, it's sort of a toss-up between MP4 and XviD; I believe XviD is theoretically just a royalty-free version of DivX, but I've managed to get far better quality out of the free version. Apple's MP4 compressor seems to produce better color at the cost of slightly more noise, but that could just be Apple's compression scheme.

As a Mac user, I'd highly recommend MP4--it's built into Quicktime, Apple's compressor works quite well (especially if you don't set it to constant bitrate), and it's fairly compatible with other systems. AAC audio seems to have poor support on Windows outside of QT, but I'm not sure about that.

XviD might be a better choice for some files though; it's supported by a lot of PC video players, and it will play just fine on a Mac with the proper codecs installed.

There are freeware XviD encoders on the Mac, and ffmpeg supports it quite well.

MacUser1
Oct 5, 2003, 09:50 AM
how about the new pixlet compression that i think will be included in Panther?

macphoria
Oct 5, 2003, 02:06 PM
I have some movies on iMovie and I do not want to turn it into DVD, just turn it into small archival movie file at 320x240 with about 24fps.

I've experimented a little and seems like MPEG-4 gives best quality for smallest file size? I think.

I didn't get to try DivX much because I only have the free version with missing functions (screen resize, etc). Do you know if DivX Pro can match up to MPEG-4 and worth the try (and $20)?

Makosuke
Oct 6, 2003, 01:14 PM
Originally posted by macphoria
I have some movies on iMovie and I do not want to turn it into DVD, just turn it into small archival movie file at 320x240 with about 24fps.

I've experimented a little and seems like MPEG-4 gives best quality for smallest file size? I think.

I didn't get to try DivX much because I only have the free version with missing functions (screen resize, etc). Do you know if DivX Pro can match up to MPEG-4 and worth the try (and $20)? That's what I figured you were planning on doing--I've done much the same thing several times.

In my tests, even the pro version of DivX (they used to have a free test-drive for the Mac--check for it) was highly disappointing--in "compression time no object" tests of mine it produced files of notably worse quality than both Apple's MP4 and XviD even using multi-pass encoding, so I'd never use it unless I had no other option for some reason.

In your situation, I'd almost guarantee MP4 to be the best choice; although you might get slightly better quality out of XviD, the added compression time and hassle of working with non-Quicktime-based encoders is almost certainly not worth the time.

It's also integrated with iMovie, or you can use the QT Pro version (definitely worth the $20) for finer control (if you're using iMovie 3, just open the reference movie in QT Player and do whatever you want with it.

3ivx is another DivX-compatible option if you want to experiment with it (there's a Mac-based encoder for free), but I didn't find it any better than MP4.

macphoria
Oct 6, 2003, 01:45 PM
Thanks a lot for the information, Makosuke.

kwajo.com
Oct 6, 2003, 02:23 PM
pixlet rocks for quality, but it takes mucho processor power. we're talkin minimum 1gig G4 here fellas

Makosuke
Oct 6, 2003, 02:42 PM
Processor power issues asside, you'd really only want to use Pixlet for professional-level video work, which is what it's intended for; since it's a lossless compression format, even compressed files are going to be massive, and there's just no point in it for the average user, much less what the original question in this post is about.

Funny how often people seem to mention Pixlet when compression questions come up--just because it's new doesn't mean it's what you want to use.

Even if you do want uber-quality, the average consumer will be perfectly well served by sticking with DV, which is much more versitile with consumer tools anyway.