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What is H.264

What is H.264

H.264 also known as MPEG-4/AVC is the next generation video compression technology in the MPEG-4 standard. H.264 is also known as MPEG-4 AVC. Developed for use in high definition systems such as HDTV, Blu-ray and HD DVD as well as low resolution portable devices such as Sony’s PSP and Apple’s iPod, H.264 offers better quality at lower file sizes than both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 ASP (DivX or XviD).

It is a newer technology than MPEG-4 Part2, providing good video quality up to four times the frame size of video encoded with the MPEG-4 Part 2 video codec at a given data rate. H.264 can provide enough flexibility to allow the standard to be applied to a wide variety of applications on a wide variety of networks and systems.It is also one of the formats chosen to be supported by both high definition DVD standards, and is destined to be the future standard format for Blu-ray. Even AVCHD, the consumer format offered by the same people behind Blu-ray and for use in camcorders and Blu-ray recorders, uses H.264 as the main video format.

H.264 is sometimes referred (erroneously) as x264 – x264 is the name of a popular freeware encoder for the H.264 format. H.264 is also sometimes referred to as MP4, again this is technically incorrect. MP4 is a container format much like AVI or MKV and it can be used to “house” many different types of compression codecs, not just H.264. It is true though that MP4 is a very popular choice for the H.264 format. MP4 should not be confused with MPEG-4 video either.

The latest version of ffdshow supports H264 playback. Pleaseremember, ffdshow is a DirectShow filter so after you install it you’ll be able to play H264 in most video players you already have installed, including Windows Media Player. Alternatively you can download VLC player. It can play H.264 without need of any codec or DirectShow filter.Apple has official adopted H.264 as the format for QuickTime, but their support is not so great for all formats, so don’t use them for general H.264 playback.You may also watch your H.264 files on your Xbox 360 and PS3 with smooth playback.

file extensions and still the codec can be H.264:
.avi – People also use .avi for H264 videos too!
.mkv – Matroska container – can support many video and audio formats.
.m4v – The standard file format for videos for iPods developed by Apple.
.mp4 – QuickTime use this format. Better than AVI as you can store AAC audio as well.
.h264 – Not commonly used, but you may download some video files with this extension name from Internet.

Next Article: Blu-Ray to H.264 for Mac


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