4K HEVC videos look like crap on older iMac

Discussion in 'macOS High Sierra (10.13)' started by zorinlynx, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. zorinlynx macrumors 603

    zorinlynx

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    Florida, USA
    #1
    I have an older iMac (2012) and 4K HEVC videos I've taken with my iPhone 7 Plus look like absolute crap when played back in Photos. The video is blurry, far blurrier than even 1080p.

    I don't have a machine that can play back 4K video at the moment, but I still want to take them in 4K so that I can enjoy them in 4K in the future. Am I stuck with blurry worse-than-1080p video on my older Mac? It's almost enough to make me want to go back to taking 1080p h.264 because that looks amazing. The least High Sierra can do is scale it down to that instead of what looks like low-quality compression 720p.
     
  2. GuilleA macrumors regular

    GuilleA

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    #2
    Hmm. Most likely the videos are being converted. How are you downloading the videos to Photos? Directly via Lightning cable or via iCloud Photos? I know that iPhone automatically converts HEIF pictures to JPEG when the destination does not support it (i.e. when AirDropping a picture to another iPhone not running iOS 11 and and A9 CPU).

    Perhaps the same thing is happening with your videos. Just to make sure, open one of the videos with QuickTime and see what the Info panel reports. BTW, 4K HEVC is far more difficult to decode than H.264.
     
  3. EugW, Oct 9, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017

    EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    #3
    I have the ability to play back my HEVC videos on the screen of my 2010 non-Retina iMac at full fps. The reason is that I have a dual 27" iMac setup where I can use my 2017 iMac to output video to the screen of my 2010 iMac. The videos are from my iPhone 7 Plus.

    Unsurprisingly, the videos look noticeably better than my old h.264 1080p videos. Way better.

    I assume you are using High Sierra, but I just want to confirm. Also, when you import video into Photos on your 2012 iMac, does it take a long, long time? Like GuilleA, I just wonder if it is re-encoded to h.264 because you have such an old machine. They way I would have expected it to work would be to transfer natively in HEVC to your 2012 iMac, but your phone should be set to export the original.

    You can check the format by right-clicking and choosing Get Info.

    In the meantime you can use 4K h.264. The quality will be the same, but it will use a lot more space on the phone. About two-thirds more than HEVC.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2017 ---
    Interesting. I just tried this on a High Sierra 2008 aluminum Unibody MacBook.

    I can import a 4K HEVC file into Photos and it stays as HEVC but Photos refuses to play the video, throwing up an error saying it is an unsupported format. This is odd, since if I re-export the video to the desktop as the original file, it will play in QuickTime (albeit with stutters, which isn't a surprise given that this is a Core 2 Duo 2.0). OTOH, if I import a 1080p HEVC file it plays just fine in Photos and doesn't give me that error.

    Note though that this is a machine that doesn't officially support High Sierra, so it could be a bug.
     
  4. h9826790 macrumors G5

    h9826790

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  5. EugW macrumors 603

    EugW

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    #5
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207022

    On some older devices, support for HEVC is also affected by the resolution and frame rate (fps) of the video:

    - iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPad Air 2 work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240 fps.
    - iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini (Retina models) work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/60 fps or 720p/240 fps.
    - Mac models from mid 2015 or earlier work with HEVC video that was captured at no greater than 1080p/240 fps.

    The files will already play at full quality in QuickTime. See my post above.
     
  6. zorinlynx thread starter macrumors 603

    zorinlynx

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    #6
    Thanks for the replies.

    It looks like I'll stick to h.264 for now, until I upgrade my equipment. Storage I have plenty of. :)
     
  7. GuilleA macrumors regular

    GuilleA

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    #7
    HEVC is mostly better for streaming as it requires a lot less bandwidth. If you have the storage space, stick to H.264 for greater compatibility. If you ever need to edit HEVC, not even Final Cut Pro X supports it as of now, so you need to transcode it using something like EditReady https://www.divergentmedia.com/editready or similar.
     
  8. zorinlynx thread starter macrumors 603

    zorinlynx

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    #8
    Another note I should add: The files are arriving on the Mac via iCloud Photo Library; they are not being imported directly. I can actually understand the videos being downscaled so the machine can play them, but it should be downscaling to less of an extreme.

    I'd be happy with downscaling to 1080p, but nope, it goes too far!
     
  9. GuilleA macrumors regular

    GuilleA

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    #9
    That's weird. If I may ask, what are the specs of the resulting video file you get from iCloud?
     
  10. Trebuin macrumors 65816

    Trebuin

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    #10
    Quicktime will convert the videos if your machine does not support them. You could also use VLC to view them. HEVC is extremely processor intensive unless you use intel build in HEVC support, which isn't that great. In the end, decent encoding will take a lot of power. Decoding off a supported CPU will perform well for the most part. If not supported, you'll decode using software to play the video...in which you need a high powered CPU or tuned settings. For example:

    Apple TV 4: (same bitrate for both)
    1080p HEVC-Choppy playback
    720p HEVC-good playback
    (this shows there's a lot more work going on to produce a 1080p image vs the 720p. In the end, we might not be able to distinguish the difference between 720p & 1080p unless we have a greater than 42" tv & a very high bitrate)

    Apple TV 4k: (same again)
    1080p HEVC-good playback
    720p HEVC-good playback
    Both processors support HEVC, but the 4k has enough power to support 1080p images. This of differences as the old h.264 profiles. The higher the profile, the newer the technology required.
     
  11. zorinlynx thread starter macrumors 603

    zorinlynx

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    #11
    1280x720 (720p) at around 3.5 megabits/sec.

    I don't know if Apple's servers are recompressing it, or if my Mac did and uploaded the recompressed version.
     

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10 October 9, 2017