H.264 for the rest of us


Kush Amerasinghe

Created

18 November 2009

H.264 is taking the web video world by storm. This relatively new technology is as intriguing as it is mystifying. As a person who didn't have the patience to understand all the intricacies of how this marvel actually works, yet who was keen to enjoy the best of what it has to offer, I had my own awkward share of learning experiences—which made me feel like a teenager again.

The aim of this H.264 compression primer is not to dive into a comprehensive explanation of how H.264 works or all its possible applications. Rather, I explain the underlying parameters in a less technical fashion so that the average web video publisher can make informed decisions when choosing various options and determining the optimal values to critical parameters of H.264 as applied specifically to Adobe Flash Player.

As you'll see, video compression using H.264 is more of an art than a science. However, having a basic understanding of how certain factors influence the outcome can greatly improve your ability to achieve better results. While there are no magic formulas or clear-cut rules, starting off from a sound foundation and then gradually refining your settings through controlled experimentation can yield optimum results in any given situation.

Read the paper:

The main components of this paper include a layman's guide to video compression and F4V (see Figure 1), an explanation of F4V-specific settings in Adobe Media Encoder and Adobe Flash Media Encoding Server, and a case study of estimating an acceptable bit rate for videos.

Lossy compression is destructive. Packing your clothes the lossy-compression way means you won't have the same clothes when you get to your destination!
Figure 1. Lossy compression is destructive. Packing your clothes the lossy-compression way means you won't have the same clothes when you get to your destination!

 

I hope you find this paper useful and enjoyable as you follow my journey though the turbulent airways of the encoding world.