Understanding the H.264 video coding system, its benefits, and its uses

H-264

Over the last two decades, video technology has advanced quickly. A technological advancement brought about by video encoding is the compression of large data to take up less space. Additionally, real-time and on-demand video streaming over the Internet has been made available.

H.264 (AVC – Advanced Video Coding), one of the most widely used encoding systems, every element of our digital life is impacted by H.264, and its use is on the rise. It has been able to address a number of video transmission quality difficulties. For instance, HD DVDs, HDTV, pay TV, or YouTube videos all use this codec. So, in this article, you can explore the video compression technology called H.264, with its advantages, works, and more.

What is H.264 encoding?

H.264 is a video coding system for recording that is an industry standard for video compression, which is the act of transforming digital video into a format that requires less storage or transmission capacity. Together with the ISO/IEC JTC1 Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), it was created and is currently maintained by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). A key technique for uses including digital television, DVD-Video, mobile TV, videoconferencing, and internet video streaming is video compression (also known as video coding). Encoders, decoders, and storage media, for example, may all communicate with one another due to standardizing video compression. Video is converted into a compressed format by an encoder, and it is converted back into an uncompressed format by a decoder.

Almost every streaming protocol in use today, such as the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS), and Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (MPEG-DASH), is compatible with H.264. Even though some streaming protocols allow the use of different compression standards, HLS only supports H.264.

One of the most popular forms of container files is MP4, which includes video, audio, and metadata in addition to other features. The container formats MP4, TS, and MOV are compatible with H.264.

Understanding video encoding and decoding

RAW video files are transformed into digital files during video encoding so they can be saved as a fluid video instead of discrete images. In order to lower the enormous video file sizes of RAW video formats, which are created from a collection of several thousand static frames per minute of video, video encoding is crucial. We can reduce these big files with the greatest codecs without losing quality.

The process of decoding transforms compressed video into an uncompressed one. The compressed file is delivered to the video decoder, which decodes it and reconstructs a series of video frames. The original video sources will eventually be converted into a final video output in a container format, such as.MP4 or.3GPP, following the encoding and decoding of the video.

Comparison between MP4 and H.264

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H.264 is the video codec, whereas MP4 is the container format. Thus, a video container is necessary to store the encoded video, and H.264 is the video compression method that accomplishes this. H.264 is designed to reduce the size of the video data, making it easier to store, stream and share it with others. The MP4 container format is the most popular choice for storing video encoded with H.264.

Advantages of employing H.264 encoders and decoders

Monitoring at a higher resolution while using less bandwidth

In comparison to older video standards like MPEG-2, H.264 was created to provide high-quality full-motion video transmission with less latency and bandwidth use. H.264 uses a very efficient codec that uses little bandwidth while producing high-quality images.

It has a lower bitrate than other formats

The bitrate of H.264 is 80% lower than that of Motion JPEG video. According to estimates, bitrate savings over MPEG-2 could reach 50% or higher. For instance, H.264 can deliver greater image quality at a constant bit rate of compression. It offers the same image quality at a lower bit rate.

Less of a need for video storage

H.264 utilizes a lot less capacity to store video than other standards, which is crucial for enabling simple video transmission over IP.

Video extension solution independent of vendors

H.264 video offers a vendor-neutral video extension option because it is standards-based. Users don’t need to be concerned about proprietary or incompatibility issues when combining H.264 equipment from several vendors.

How is H.264 implemented?

The H.264 codec has the advantage of being adaptable and may be used with a variety of applications, networks, and systems. It is capable of handling low and high bit rates, low- and high-resolution video, broadcast, and the internet since it can be put into a variety of container formats. Both MPEG-4, which has the .MP4 extension, and 3GP for mobile phones are common container formats. The audio is typically compressed using the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) codec when the video is encoded in H.264.

You may learn why H.264 is a versatile video codec by understanding how the encoding and decoding procedures work. RAW video files are transformed into digital files during video encoding so they can be saved as flowing videos instead of discrete images. In order to lower the enormous video file sizes of RAW video formats, which are created from a collection of several thousand still photographs each minute of video, video encoding is crucial. We can reduce these big files with the greatest codecs without losing quality. In addition to shrinking the file size, video encoding helps alter the audio format, video resolution, and aspect ratio. It also lessens buffering for streaming videos.

When decoding, compressed video is converted back into an uncompressed format. The compressed file is delivered to the video decoder, which decodes it and reconstructs a series of video pictures. The original video sources will eventually be converted into a final video output in a container format, such as .MP4 or .3GP, following the encoding and decoding of the video.

The following are some typical objectives for video encoding:
  • File compression
  • Buffering for streaming video is being reduced.
  • Modifying the aspect ratio or resolution of a video
  • Changing the audio format or quality
  • Converting outdated files to contemporary formats
  • The process of adapting a video to run on a certain platform, such as a computer, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, etc.

H.264 levels and profiles

The video is encoded using several H.264 codecs using various profiles, and the profiles guarantee compatibility with devices that have additional decoding capabilities. Baseline (which targets outdated mobile devices), Main (for contemporary devices and web streaming), and High profile are some of the most popular profiles (for long-term storage, HD and Blu-ray discs).

H.264 on camera hardware

H.264 is a common recording standard for video cameras, and Sony and Panasonic also offer AVCHD. AVC-Intra, created by Panasonic and XAVC, uses the most advanced H.264 codec and supports 4K resolutions and 60 frames per second. After importing the H.264 file provided by your camera into your editing program, you can convert it to .MP4 so that it can be distributed while retaining high video quality and shrinking the video file size compared to the footage from your camera’s initial recording. To achieve the optimum quality and file size, experiment with the settings.

Final Words

H.264 is only a compression technology that is widely used to encode on-demand video and live streaming, despite how complex it may sound. It has been since 2003 and is most likely to continue existing for a very long time. If you need to upload or stream a new video, it is important to consider several aspects of the video, from the file type, codecs used, and frame rate. Understanding these basic concepts is important in order to make sure that the video you are creating is compatible with a variety of devices.

But keep in mind that H.264 can be seen on a wide range of devices and is the standard codec used by iTunes and all well-known manufacturers of mobile devices or applications.

All videos on Vadzo are H.264 encoded, too. By encoding each video at various quality levels, our customization provides adaptive bitrate, which modifies the video’s quality as it plays.

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