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Old 16th March 2005, 00:00   #1  |  Link
travisbell
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When should we move to MPEG4 AVC?

Hey guys, just seeking out opinions. Is AVC ready for primetime? If not, about how far off do you guys feel it will be ready to start using instead of Xvid?

Thanks!
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Old 16th March 2005, 04:29   #2  |  Link
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Regarding AVC, not GK/AGK. Moved to New Codecs forum.
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Old 16th March 2005, 08:09   #3  |  Link
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"how far off do you guys feel it will be ready to start using instead of Xvid?"
I already use it instead of Xvid if the hardware, the clip should be playable on, allows it.
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Old 16th March 2005, 08:45   #4  |  Link
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Hm; we had such a question coming, hadn't we.

First of all, that depends on you. You needn't switch at all, strictly speaking. As for the 'right moment' ATM AVC codecs only give an advantage for backups at very strong compression; i.e. for example 1 CD backups. In the high-quality arena we're still waiting for any efficiency surpluses of AVC (Nero AVC, x264) over ASP (XviD). When I don't manage to downsize something quite enough with XviD at quant=4 (h.263), I use x264. Mainly for intermediate storage of stuff from DVB-T that I don't intend to keep for long. Above that, there's nothing to gain. Especially for transparent backups XviD is tried and tested to deliver what I want.

So if your aim are 1 CD backups you could perhaps be well-advised to try Nero Digital AVC. x264 perhaps hasn't been tested long enough to call it stable.

If you do HQ backups with XviD [edit]you can[/edit] relax and wait; the time [edit]of higher efficiency of AVC in that area[/edit] hasn't come, yet. If you do anime backups AVC should more easily handle that genre. If you compress HDTV AVC would be a good choice if your PC is fast enough to play back the results.

If standalone playback is what you're after, right now the situation looks better for ASP (XviD) than for AVC (Nero, x264); it should turn around some day.
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Old 16th March 2005, 12:34   #5  |  Link
temporance
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teegedeck
If you compress HDTV AVC would be a good choice if your PC is fast enough to play back the results.
I agreed with every word of your post, Teegedeck, until this part. Yes, AVC could be useful for low bitrates (where you know that there will be artifacts whatever the codec). Yes, it is better for Anime where texture is not important. Its true forte is CIF resolution anime at 50kbit/s

But HDTV?

In my opinion Main Profile AVC with its 4x4 transform has its niche in lower resolutions. Even the guys that developed AVC acknowlege their codec has weaknesses in HDTV: this is why they are introducing a 8x8 transform.

When encoding HDTV at relatively low bitrates, cleaner, sharper looking video can be achieved by downsampling (e.g. going from 1920x1080 to 1280x720) and encoding with an ASP codec than by encoding with AVC at native resolution. This is because AVC will stomp over all the fine texture that comes with HDTV.
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Old 16th March 2005, 14:04   #6  |  Link
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OK, how about this: I assume AVC is a good solution if you aim at encoding 2 hours of HDTV content to 2 CD-R size, while ASP is better if you want to encode 2 hours of HDTV content to 1 DVD-R size. Is that correct? My own experience with HDTV is verrry limited...
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Old 16th March 2005, 14:16   #7  |  Link
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Well, most 1080i/p encodes can't be played back by ANY actual CPU if they're encoded with AVC and all options are used...
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Old 16th March 2005, 16:13   #8  |  Link
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Currently for me the real letdown, or weakness of avc is how artificial it looks. Things that i've encoded with avc in the medium bitrate arena always look too artificial for me to enjoy the lack of artifacts. As many people have already stated the strength of H.264 is imo the low bitrate arena, and even there (imo again ) Xvid with the right post processing is very competitive (I like the look that using ffdshow with Xsharpen set to strength 40 followed by spb deblocking with soft threshould at strenth 64 gives.).
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Old 16th March 2005, 16:31   #9  |  Link
temporance
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Quote:
Originally posted by *.mp4 guy
Currently for me the real letdown, or weakness of avc is how artificial it looks.
Here here. My thoughts exactly. I couldn't contemplate using AVC when I want good quality. Maybe there will more more decoder options / enhancements that improve this situation, but I think the artificial look is built right into the codec along with the in-loop deblocking.

On HDTV: My logic for dissing AVC as an HDTV codec is that AVC shines at low bitrate / low quality. If I have the choice of:
- ASP at 1280x720@24fps
- AVC at 1920x1280@24fps
and both would be "moderately" compressed, I would chose the former. Even projected onto the largest screen it's going to look better than the over-processed high quantizer AVC encode.

I guess my point is that there is no point doing HDTV in the quantizer range where AVC shows an advantage. What use are more pixels if they are over compressed, over smoothed and look over-processed?

Last edited by temporance; 16th March 2005 at 17:06.
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Old 16th March 2005, 19:06   #10  |  Link
travisbell
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Wow guys, great responses!

I have yet to encode a single thing with AVC which is the main point to my asking.

The only thing I encode to date is HDTV. I typically do an Xvid encode @ 1280x720 so I can fit a few eps of TV on DVD. If what I understand is right, I am probably better off with Xvid for now.

Here's a question for all of you. I am a Mac user and have been anxiously awaiting Quicktime 7 since I saw Jobs showcase H.264 last year at WWDC. When he showcased it, he said that the codec is capable of delivering HD (7-9mbps) with a much lesser file size. I think he was comparing it to H.263.

What are talking in regards to quality and file size if we compare these 3 codecs? H.264, H.263 & Xvid?

Thanks!
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Old 16th March 2005, 19:45   #11  |  Link
Leo 69
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Quote:
Originally posted by *.mp4 guy
Currently for me the real letdown, or weakness of avc is how artificial it looks. Things that i've encoded with avc in the medium bitrate arena always look too artificial for me to enjoy the lack of artifacts. As many people have already stated the strength of H.264 is imo the low bitrate arena, and even there (imo again ) Xvid with the right post processing is very competitive (I like the look that using ffdshow with Xsharpen set to strength 40 followed by spb deblocking with soft threshould at strenth 64 gives.).
I think with such right postprocessing Xvid looks more artificial
And no, Xvid isn't a competitor to AVC with any kind of postprocessing IMO.It smoothes much, adds mosquitos, squares, whereas AVC looks awesome. Well, AVC slightly changes the colors, and that's all, and it's unnoticable, when you haven't seen the source.
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Old 16th March 2005, 19:48   #12  |  Link
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Search for intel i263 codec yourself on google, it is the only working h.263 encoder I know of. On a side note H.263 is little better, most times worse then mpeg 2 at reasonable bitrates and resolutions due to it's intended purpose being teleconferencing etc.
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Old 16th March 2005, 19:55   #13  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally posted by Leo 69
I think with such right postprocessing Xvid looks more artificial
And no, Xvid isn't a competitor to AVC with any kind of postprocessing IMO.It smoothes much, adds mosquitos, squares, whereas AVC looks awesome. Well, AVC slightly changes the colors, and that's all, and it's unnoticable, when you haven't seen the source.
Eyes are different and because of this what you say is quite possible. However it is equally possible that you have never even tried watching an Xvid encode with those settings and therefore are not qualified to even state your opinion on the matter.
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Old 16th March 2005, 20:46   #14  |  Link
Leo 69
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Quote:
When should we move to MPEG4 AVC?
Well, I have moved already (evermore, probably), because there is nothing better ATM and in the nearest future either.

Last edited by Leo 69; 16th March 2005 at 20:49.
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Old 16th March 2005, 21:32   #15  |  Link
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imho every codec has it's own purpose for Anime i would use AVC or VP7 even if the Source is Mpeg-2 (DVD,HDTV or DV). For uncompressed sources like those from a Film scanner i would use AVC,VC-1 (Hollywoods choice) or VP7 and for Mpeg-2 Real footage (DVD,HDTV or DV) i'm still for ASP XviD,DivX and company finaly for HD-DVD backup (if anyone will ever be able to backup it) i would use AVC, VC-1 or VP7. But it's all a matter of personal taste
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Old 16th March 2005, 21:43   #16  |  Link
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I actually agree with Leo. Xvid with postprocessing, while it does have its strong points, doesn't truly make the content look any more real than AVC in my eyes. As a matter of fact, the postprocessing washes over the details quite a bit and leaves the crisper outlines (especially if Xsharpen is used initially). X264, if you reduce the in-loop deblocker for more detail gain, delivers optimized encoding without the unnecessary washing, etc.

Although I agree that extended 8x8 transformation capabilities are needed before AVC-encoding HDTV content (if you're into this kind of detail).
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Old 16th March 2005, 21:46   #17  |  Link
pest
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you said it right cruncher

looking at the audio-side people are still using
lame, not instead but with aac...

avc's core transform is really simple
it try's to compensate through clever block based
predictions but there's always a
compromise between local edge adaptivity and
good texture reproduction

the future are wavelets imo

Last edited by pest; 16th March 2005 at 21:52.
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Old 16th March 2005, 23:25   #18  |  Link
Elias
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Seriously, I'm most likely never to use AVC. Why? I don't see the benefit with it. Sure, it looks a bit better than ASP, but the quality isn't really that different. If you know ASP in and out, if you're a mastery of settings and quantizer stuff, you can make ASP looks just as good as AVC, or even better. ASP is underestimated when it comes to quality. It's actually a really powerful codec. And it has much higher compatibility and takes less CPU when it comes to decoding/encoding.
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Old 16th March 2005, 23:36   #19  |  Link
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> avc's core transform is really simple

It's more efficient than a 8x8 DCT

> compromise between local edge adaptivity and good texture reproduction

Indeed. Luckily, Frext / High Profile brings back a 8x8 transform and let the encoder choose the more efficient transform for each block. You get both edge & texture, without wavelet.

> you can make ASP looks just as good as AVC, or even better

You can't make ASP looks like AVC ( I washed out the 'good' part ), that's the whole issue. At high bitrate, some might prefer ASP's look, but in a 'classic' encoding ( let's say, DVD Ripp on 1 CD, like Doom9's test ), AVC's look is imho better.

> And it has much higher compatibility

Not for much longer. And compatibility isn't the right word for ASP ( look at the mess it is, with qpel & gmc & co ).

> and takes less CPU when it comes to decoding/encoding.

There we agree ( though when it comes to HD, it's the memory bandwidth which becomes the limiting factor )
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Old 16th March 2005, 23:40   #20  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally posted by Manao
>Not for much longer. And compatibility isn't the right word for ASP ( look at the mess it is, with qpel & gmc & co ).
Well, I don't know about you, but I never use those anymore But when I did, didn't notice any problem at all. Worked pretty solid.
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