Quantcast H.264 vs. MPEG-4 retains detail better? - digitalFAQ Forum
  #1  
09-13-2014, 08:20 PM
premiumcapture premiumcapture is offline
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To my eyes, MPEG-2 seems to retain detail better than H.264 when copying SD DVDs even at equivalent bit rates. Since MPEG-4 is a precursor to H.264, will it retail greater detail, albeit at a higher bit rate?
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  #2  
09-13-2014, 11:37 PM
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Correct.

H.264 has an internal softening filter that is on by default. This is to help it with lower artifacts, from lower bandwidth/bitrate, but sometimes the outcomes are what you have observed. So the idea that H.264 is "better" is a myth -- it's just different. It's the main reason we only use MPEG-2 for our VHS conversion projects to Blu-ray. The minor artifacts are better than the wholesale softening that can occur.

I think the filter can by disabled, but there's still other nuisances in H.264 that do not exist in MPEG-2. That makes a KISS workflow needlessly complex.

To end users, MPEG-4 is mostly just a container. (Remember that MPEG-2 is a container AND a format/codec.) But MPEG-4 is also sort of like a toolkit for creating codecs or formats. Unlike MPEG-2, MPEG-4 is not format itself.

It's complicated.

MPEG-4:
- MP4 as AVC/H.264 = MPEG-4 part 10
- AVI as Divx/Xvid = MPEG-4 part 2

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  #3  
09-13-2014, 11:39 PM
premiumcapture premiumcapture is offline
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I meant MPEG-4 part 2 (think Divx), commonly referred to as MPEG-4
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09-13-2014, 11:46 PM
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Divx (or open source Xvid) just isn't as good as MPEG-2. It valued size over quality. It was replaced by H.264 by almost everybody, from the hobby users to the equipment manufacturers.

So again, what you see is not surprising.

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  #5  
09-13-2014, 11:48 PM
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so to choose the better of two options, will Divx retain detail more like MPEG-2 or is it worse than H.264 in that sense?
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09-13-2014, 11:51 PM
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Xvid/Divx will retain more noise, as it's really a mix of MPEG-2 and H.264. It's an earlier era of video compression from 10+ years ago.
H.264 will blur if not given enough bitrate.

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  #7  
09-14-2014, 12:15 PM
msgohan msgohan is offline
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What do you mean by "copying" DVDs? You're compressing a retail movie down to a smaller size using both MPEG-2 and H.264?
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09-14-2014, 08:14 PM
NJRoadfan NJRoadfan is offline
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MPEG-4 Part 2 is a different compression algorithm from MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264). The H.264 standard is newer, having come out in 2003 vs. 1999. Really the only thing they share is the name "MPEG-4", they are completely different video compression formats. Part 2 is the original video codec developed for the standard, while Part 10/AVC was jointly developed by ITU and MPEG and later added to the MPEG-4 family of codecs. If you have a fast machine, encode with H.264. Support is universal now, and the codecs are mature. Much better compression can be achieved over the old Part 2 codec while retaining the same quality.

Also to clear things up, MPEG-4 Part 2 video can be in a MP4 container (defined in MPEG-4 Part 14). It wasn't really intended for use in AVI containers. That was popularized by DivX, which was originally a hacked codec to allow Microsoft's old MPEG-4 encoder to store video in containers besides the proprietary ASF format (AVI doesn't officially support features required by the MPEG-4 codec). MP4 didn't come until 2003. Before that, MPEG-4 Part 2 video was mostly distributed in Quicktime MOV and Microsoft ASF containers.
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  #9  
09-15-2014, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
What do you mean by "copying" DVDs? You're compressing a retail movie down to a smaller size using both MPEG-2 and H.264?


Quote:
Much better compression can be achieved over the old Part 2 codec while retaining the same quality.
I see this very evidently with H.264 Blu-Rays, and the codec does an awesome job with HD material. To my eyes, perhaps due to converting the already compressed MPEG-2 stream, the psychovisiual settings seem to noticeably soften image detail and result in a bit of banding at times and blur edges. I have played with H.264 settings in Handbrake and TMPG and haven't found the sweet spot yet.

No question its a great codec, but for SD, my eyes tell me MPEG-2 has better PQ at high bit rates than H.264 with identical bit rates. Maybe my settings are off, but since part 2 is closer to MPEG-2, I was thinking PQ might be better, but using the MPEG-4 part 2 encoder in Handbrake, I was not satisfied at all. I am probably sticking to x264 for now.


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