h.264 vs mp4

Discussion in 'iPod touch' started by hayakuu, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. hayakuu macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    Which encoding should i use? I want to save space, but at the same time, i want great quality to excellent quality. So which can give me the best quality for the lowest amount of space, audio is not a factor, since i cant tell the difference. Can you actually tell the difference between these 2?
  2. Mercury7 macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2007
    h.264 is mp4....or at least that is my understanding, but there are other variations of mp4 i think. To make things easy though just think of h.264 as
    the new standard, all your encoding should be h.264 for future and present compatibility, It is a great codec that really produces outstanding results. my encodings come out to approx 600mb for a 2 hour movie and look excellent.

    hope that helps
  3. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    it is a variation of mp4. but it takes so long to convert, and it takes up so much space, and i really cant tell the difference between mp4 and h.264. Have you?
  4. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) takes up less space than plain MPEG-4 for the same quality.
  5. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
  6. bloody macrumors member

    Sep 16, 2007
    what settings should i use to convert to AVC MPEG-4, to get the full quality of 640x480 or 360, of regular MPEG-4?
  7. cwolves macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2007
    First of all H264 IS MP4.

    "Apple MP4" = MPEG4 2
    H264 = MPEG4-10

    I really wish people would stop saying this...

    H264 with CABAC encoding is the best codec there is right now. Unfortunately the iPod does NOT support CABAC. It doesn't support b frames or several other features either.

    On a desktop H264 > other types of MPEG4.

    On the iPod Touch: MPEG4-2 > H264

    the touch supports more features from mp4-2 than mp4-10 so you can actually get better quality video at the same bitrate from an mp4-2 video ("mp4") than you can from mp4-10 (h264)
  8. Mercury7 macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2007
    I think I'll go ahead and insert a plug here for turbo264, If you have a powerpc or a single core mac intel then this little usb hardware decoder is awesome.

    I have been curious though about other peoples results, I have been slowly converting my movies for the ipod touch and though of burning them to disc to get someone experienced here to evaluate the frame rates etc and getting some examples of what is better.

  9. Mercury7 macrumors 6502

    Oct 31, 2007
    this is what I have encoded so far

    lord of the rings trilogy extended
    dune trilogy (sci fi )
    logans run
    empire strikes back
    startrekmovies 2,3,6,7
    close encounters
    led zep
    2 parts of from earth to the moon
    5th element

    I think thats about it, It is definitely time intensive getting your moviesw ready for the touch.
  10. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    so i shouldnt bother converting it into h.264?
  11. ScottFitz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 3, 2007
    When I use Handbrake's Iphone/touch settings, I get an output file in .mp4. They work great. When I used iMovie to make some ipod friendly movies, I did it in h.264 and the files came out as .m4v.

    Both look gorgeous on my touch. I can't tell the difference.
  12. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    This is all just confusing the question.

    Everything will be an mp4 extension essentially. But there are two options for encoding them - mpeg-4 or h.264. H.264 takes about twice as long to encode but is of higher quality at the same file sizes.
  13. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    but what about cwolves explanation? he sounds like he knows his stuff.
  14. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Apple themselves encode their own videos in h.264, no?
  15. cwolves macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2007
    hayakuu -

    Correct, don't bother with h264. mpeg4-2 is faster to encode and will be of HIGHER quality (at max settings) than h264 video on the touch.

    Again, please stop saying this as it is completely incorrect as far as the iPod touch is concerned. "mp4" (mpeg4-2) will generate BETTER results than h264 (mpeg4-10) on the touch because h264 is crippled on the touch.

    To give you an analogy...

    I take a VW Bug (mp4) and pit it against a Corvette (h264). Who wins? The Corvette of course... Okay, now I say that the Bug can do whatever it wants but the Corvette can't shift past 2nd gear and it's a 20 mile race. The Bug wins because the Corvette is crippled.

    This is exactly what's happening here. H264 IS the better codec but the implementation that Apple decided to go with crippled it to the point where the previous codec is BETTER.

    Why did they do this? Because H264 is a resource hog. CABAC decoding, 2x2 macro blocks, B-Frames...they all take a huge hit on system resources. Put simply they were left with a choice: Support the new format ("Apple's" format, mind you) in all its glory and have 1 hour of battery life or support it in a trimmed down version and have good battery life.

    Just to clear something up, however...H264, even on the touch, will not yield bad results. It will still be good quality video, but "mp4" will be slightly better. As has been pointed out the quality is so similiar that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. The only time you really can is in fast action sequences and scenes with a LOT of detail. But considering that the touch screen is small how much detail do you -really- see?

    So the ultimate question of which to use? MP4. It's faster, it will be better quality, the touch will have longer battery life (by maybe 5 minutes).

    Ask again when the next touch supports Main or High profile Level4+ H264 and H264 will win.

    Yes, but...

    Quicktime supports multiple streams from one source. Apple has actually re-encoded every video they have (that works on the touch) to the baseline-3 H264 profile for the Touch and keeps the extended-5.1 videos for everyone else.


    Okay...You view the video on your desktop you get one version. View it on the touch you get another. The one on your desktop CAN'T play on your touch but the technology is so seamless that you never know that they do this.
  16. Creibold macrumors regular


    Feb 27, 2006
    As far as desktops go, under OSX, and I'm assuming your using handbrake, what settings do you use? Constant Quality? I tried to use H.264 at 80% quality and it took more than 4+ hours to do. I was encoding the new Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End. My machine felt like it was running laps at top speed just to get it done. While movies like Star Wars Episode 3 encoded right around the same quality (75% I believe) only took about 2 hours. Crazy stuff.

    Anyways, back the question: what quality do you use when encoding videos for iTunes.
  17. cwolves macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2007
    H264 as high as it will go. Turn every option on that you possibly can and leave the bitrate around 1,000kbps if you have that option. But then why is this in an iPod touch forum? :)
  18. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    but will h.264 still take up less space? Even though the quality is near the same as regular mp4 encoding?
  19. cwolves macrumors regular

    Oct 11, 2007
    The ONLY thing that determines the file size is the bitrate. A 1,000kbps bitrate will generate the same file size no matter what codec you use.

    The difference is that (on a desktop) with the settings maxed out H264 will give you better quality video at the same bitrate than mpeg4-2 ("mp4").

    So you have a 1GB video in "mp4" format and you can get exactly the same quality in 800MB if it's H264 (this is just an example, the actual numbers vary).
  20. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    if i am able to convert h.264 fairly quickly, onto my ipod touch, should i just go ahead and convert it to h.264? Or, stick with mp4 indefinitley. This is my last question i promise. :)
  21. lostless macrumors 6502

    Oct 22, 2005
    I personally like H.264 much better. The codec is a very efficient codec, and shows when comparing it to the original Mpeg4. Mpeg4 looks very good, but suffers from blocks, poorer motion estimation, and somewhat grainy image. H.264 does not suffer from major blockiness. In fact it tries to remove blocks all together. I have noticed it softens the image in the process, everything just looks smoother and clean in H.264. This is only comparing average bit rate of 1200, which is quite low (for SD material). Still looks very near DVD though, unlike mpeg4 which fails at high motion at those rates. At higher bit rates, H.264 starts dropping the softer image and looks just as good as a dvd.
    If your converting for an ipod, Mpeg 4 is fine. For an Xbox, PS3, or Apple TV, view on HDTV, H.264 is the way to go.
  22. decksnap macrumors 68040


    Apr 11, 2003
    Also, for computer viewing, 1000 kbps is low. Go higher. 1500-2000.
  23. aki macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2004
    cwolves, thanks for the really clear explanation. Made a lot of sense, got it clear in my head now.

    Re should you go h.264, I agree with lostless. If you are only ever going to watch on the touch, and it's slower to convert, why bother. If however you think you may sometime want to view the file on some other hardware, and you don't care about time, then h.264 is an option.

    In my own case I generally go the h.264 route but only because I have that Elgato Turbo thing which does it in the background.
  24. hayakuu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 18, 2007
    is h.264 2 pass supposed to look blocky at some scenes? ( i broke my promise :X)
  25. DrDanDDS macrumors newbie

    Apr 21, 2009
    Question about Samsung HMX-U10 camcorder

    Hi all,
    I'm looking for a compact HD camcorder such as the Samsung HMX-U10 and want to make sure the video output will be compatible with my Macs (and iMovie09). It outputs video onto an SDHC card in H.264 format. I'm assuming I can slip that SDHC card into a card reader on my iMac and iMovie won't have a problem reading it, right?

    Thanks in advance...

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