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Webm Vs H 264 Comparison Essay

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WebM VS MP4: Comparison between WebM and MP4

WebM VS MP4 Comparison in Quality, Size, Compatibility

WebM vs MP4. which is better? What’s the differences between WebM and MP4? I would like to get the better quality, so which one should I choose, WebM or MP4?

In a word where technology never stops evolving, we are offered with more and more options. While enjoy the benefits of the ever developing technology, we are helplessly left scratching our heads when it comes to choose from the pretty confusing options. It's thus no surprise that users have trouble figuring out the similarities and differences between WebM and MP4. Here we make a detailed comparison of WebM vs MP4 to help you decide which format comes in better quality and suitable size.

WebM, a video format from Google, is designed for the web (one of the video standard supported in HTML5). WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 or VP9 video codec, audio streams compressed with the Vorbis or Opus audio codecs, and WebVTT text tracks. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska media container.

MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4 is one of the most commonly-used container format that is able to host any number of video, audio, subtitles, images, chapters in a single file. It also allows for advanced content such as 3D graphics, menus and user interactivity. Similar to container format WebM or MKV, it is able to be streamed over the Internet.

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Similarities and Differences Between MP4 and WebM MP4 vs WebM: Quality

The most concerned factor for a video format is how a video with that format looks like. Compare WebM quality with MP4, which is better? As a matter of fact, for the video quality of WebM vs MP4, it all comes down to the codecs. Generally, the output of the MP4 format is extremely high quality, as crisp and clear as that of a DVD.

WebM also comes in high quality. But comparing MP4 in quality, WebM is a little bit inferior. Take the two codecs of each format for example, in the vp8 vs h264 round, both VP8 and H.264 videos yield approximately the same quality at the same bitrate. But the High Profile H.264 is by comparison very ahead of in quality which VP8 may never surpass it.

Compare WebM to MP4: Size

The video size of a file can decide how many movies or videos can be stored in your mobile devices, or whether your videos can be uploaded to video-sharing sites. Both WebM and MP4 in fact are compressed into a relatively small file size, however, differences still exist as for MP4 vs WebM comparison. Movies in MP4 can be downloaded quickly via the internet using the high-speed broadband connections currently available. But developed with a purpose for providing DVD quality pictures, a MP4 video can sometimes be very large.

Used more for Internet streaming, WebM videos are more popular on YouTube or other Google sites. As technology works by compressing the files, making the overall size of WebM much smaller compared with MP4, WebM videos are much more accessible and files can be downloaded quickly from the internet.

WebM vs MP4: Compatibility and Usage

Choose MP4 as your output video format if you want to play on your smartphone if possible, as the MP4 technology is widely compatible with Android and Apple mobile devices. You will benefit from having any devices iPhone, iPad, Android, browsers Chrome, Safari, IE 10 (with the help of HTML5 or Flash) and any players play this specific format with MP4 files.

Well in the comparison between WebM and MP4, it’s obviously that WebM is the underdog. Neither Microsoft nor Apple has indicated they will ship WebM support in their operating systems or mobile phones. On the desktop side, this won’t be an issue since Flash’s WebM support will make up for Windows’ and Mac OS’ WebM deficiency. In fact, as a format designed for web, WebM is quite internet -friendly.

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Summary. From the above brief WebM vs mp4 comparison, you may have a rough understanding of the similarities and differences between WebM and MP4. Simple put, both WebM and MP4 has their own pros and cons. Which is better WebM or MP4. Or which one should you choose? That largely depends on the tasks you are going to do with them. As mentioned above, MP4 is widely used on almost all the mobile devices, so if you want to download or convert a video for mobile playback, choose MP4. While for WebM, as it is a web-friendly format, then WebM may be a good choice if you want to upload or share a video online. Well if you still have trouble figuring out the suitable format between WebM and MP4, always go for the latter.

Make WebM or MP4 Compatible for iPhone iPad Android

Now you may have make your choice in the WebM vs MP4 fight and greatly care how to get your WebM or MP4 files played on mobile devices, or edited and uploaded to websites like YouTube. As just discussed, WebM may have trouble to get hardware support. While for MP4, claimed to be one of the most commonly used formats across platforms, may still meet problems if encoded with certain codecs, resolutions etc. when you run into WebM or MP4 incompatibility problems, the simple solution is to convert WebM/MP4 to your device-playable format with a proper video converter.

Here MacX Video Converter Pro stands out for that job. With 320+ video codecs and 50+ audio codecs built-in, this video converter can easily convert WebM to MP4 or AVI, MOV, FLV, WMV, MPEG4, H264, MKV, etc and transfer WebM/MP4 and other videos to 350+ latest mobiles, including iPhone 6S/Plus, iPad Pro, iPad Mini 4, Samsung Galaxy Note 5/S6 Edge, Sony Xperia Z5, Surface Pro 4, PS4, etc with 83X faster speed and 98% quality reserved. Besides, it also has a knack of downloading online videos like YouTube or editing WebM/MP4 videos for upload to YouTube, Facebook etc.

Best WebM to MP4 Converter

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•All-around Video Converter: Convert any video to over 180 video formats and 14 popular audio formats on Mac OS X (El Capitan included), such as WebM to MP4, M2TS to MP4, MKV to AVI, WMV to MOV, FLV to AVI, AVCHD to MOV, etc.

Other articles

Vs: Comparison between (HEVC) and (AVC)

H.265 vs H.264: Comparison between H.265 (HEVC) and H.264 (AVC) H.265 vs H.264 Comparison and Guide to Convert Videos from/to H.265

Hot discussion about H.265 and H.264 is underway. The technical content of H.265 was settled on January 25, 2013, while the specification was formally approved as a standard on April 13, 2013. This year, Apple applied next-generation H.265 technology to its new iPhone 6 and larger iPhone 6 Plus for FaceTime over cellular. And some companies urgently gear up to launch H.265 converters to convert videos from/to H.265. So, what is H.265? How can it fight against H.264? If you want to figure out these things, this post focusing on H.265 vs H.264 comparison can come in handy. It tells you clearly the definitions of H.265 and H.264, and also the differences between H.265 and H.264.

How to Convert Videos Between H.265 & H.264? WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe - Fast convert H.265 to H.264 and also convert H.264 to H.265 on PC and Mac.

It can save (and convert, natch) videos from the likes of YouTube, and output presets for every portable device from Android to Windows Phone. - Rick (CNET Editor) H.265 vs H.264: Definitions of H.265 and H.264

What is H.264?
H264 (aka MPEG-4 AVC) is currently a mainstream video compression format. It is widely used in Blu-ray discs, internet sources like videos in YouTube and iTunes Store, web software, and also HDTV broadcasts over terrestrial, cable and satellite.

What is H.265?
H.265 (also known as HEVC. short for High Efficiency Video Coding) is a video compression standard whose predecessor is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. H.265 HEVC ensures to deliver video quality identical to H.264 AVC at only half the bit rate. >> HEVC/H.265 Codec. H.265 Encoder. 4K Codec. 8K Video Format

H.265 vs H.264: Differences between H.265 and H.264

In general, H.265 has several big advantages over H.264, including better compression, delicate image and bandwidth saving. For more detailed differences, please read H.265 vs H.264 comparison table.

No. support up to 59.94 fps only.

Simply put, H.265 is the codec of the future. So, do you want to convert videos files to H.265? In this way, you can downsize HD videos without damaging the quality to free up space, and also convert SD videos to H.265 for better visual effects. So, how to convert videos to H.265? All you need is a H.265 converter to convert videos to H.265.

How to Convert Video Files to H.265?

Among all available H.265 video converters in the market, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe claims one of the top H.265 encoders. It is an all-in-one H.265 decoder, encoder, converter and player. Not only can it allow people to convert H.265 to common video files, but also convert SD/HD videos (AVCHD, M2TS, MTS, MKV, H.264, MP4, AVI, TS, MOD, TOD, WMV, MOV, MPEG, etc.) to H.265 with several mouse clicks.

Firstly, download and install it on PC and Mac to start converting videos.
(Tips: for Mac users, HD Video Converter for Mac is an ideal option to convert videos from/to H.265.)

Step 1. Click "+ Video" to load target video file.

Step 2. Choose "HEVC Video" under category "PC General Video" as your output profile.

Step 3. Specify destination folder to save H.265 video file.

Step 4. Hit "RUN" to begin converting.

According to H.265 vs H.264 (or HEVC vs AVC) comparison, the superiority of H.265 is evident. And with the help of WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, we can convert videos files to/from H.265 effortlessly, including converting H.264 to H.265 and H.265 to H.264.

Still have trouble about converting videos to/from H.265/H.264? Please feel free to Email Us >>

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WebM vs

I'm a big fan of open-source video, and with Google's recent decision to drop H.264, I'm unsure about whether I should use Ogg Theora or WebM for HTML5 video.

I've done plenty of searching, but every result puts either of those against H.264, which isn't what I'm asking.

In short, should I use Ogg Theora or WebM? I know they're both open-source, so I'm more curious about the video quality, efficiency and compatibility of each (i.e. which one is better to use).

asked Apr 16 '11 at 16:32

closed as off topic by Peter O.. Richard Harrison. Hristo Iliev. Mark Rotteveel. hims056 Oct 20 '12 at 9:39

Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to relate to programming within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center. please edit the question.

This question might be better suited to webmasters.stackexchange.com – Twelve47 Apr 16 '11 at 16:38

This is a tough call, but honestly, WebM is probably going to win out in the end considering it's Google's project. Ogg will most likely stay what it is now in it's audio counterpart-- an open standard that is not widely-adopted even though it's superior in some ways.

H.264 is Apple's, WebM is Google's. Apple will most likely end up adopting WebM, and Google will most likely continue to pare back H.264 on their devices.

I'd base your decision more on longevity than on video quality, the reason being that the quality isn't that different, and even better quality could end up losing in the end. Remember Betamax?

answered Apr 16 '11 at 16:44

Alas, there are developers alive today that weren't even born yet when Betamax was around. -o – Keith Apr 16 '11 at 16:50

Sad but true. The VHS vs. Betamax war should be standard historical reading in CS classes :) – Groovetrain Apr 16 '11 at 16:55

I wouldn't bury h.264 quite yet. It's arguably superior to WebM in quality per bitrate and performance (both decoder and encoder). There is a lot of hardware out there with h.264 acceleration but virtually none for WebM. – Guy Sirton Apr 17 '11 at 5:41

VP8 (Webm) Vs Flash(H264) Archive - Doom9 s Forum

7th August 2012, 20:16

When i read about compares about the 2, all say that H264 is the shit if you know what i mean.

I myself Love H264 with x264, it�s Amazing!

But when i watch Youtube and compare Webm with Mp4, the Webm is better by quite a bit, haven�t done a Major test, but did compare a bit on 2 videos, and it was always better in Webm.

Can anyone tell me why that is?

Is Vp8 better at youtubes settings(bitrate limit)?
Or am i just blind?

7th August 2012, 20:22

It comes down to the settings (incl. bitrate), but in every fair comparison you can find x264 beats the VP8 encoder effortlessly.

7th August 2012, 20:23

Can you direct me to some comparasion (Pictures or Clips)?

Cause if x264 beats it without problems why is it worse on Youtube(though they don�t use x264, it should be pretty close right)?

7th August 2012, 20:32

Not all of Youtube's video modes use the same bitrate or comparable settings. If you want to do a comparison, you should do it in a controlled situation, not pull random videos off the internet.

7th August 2012, 20:40

Oh, i thought they used the same on let�s say 1080p etc, (the videos were My own videos, so i had the Raw original to compare to).
But i guess they use higher settings for some reason, though the size was the same i guess they use some pretty fast h264 settings to get by?

I have wanted to do that, but i can�t get the encoder to work when i made a build.
Can you link the latest encoder, or build it for me if you have the possibility?

8th August 2012, 12:30

Google promote WebM as replacement for H.264 - they explicitly refuse to support H.264 even if H.264 is better, even if it better for customer.

8th August 2012, 14:08

Oh, i thought they used the same on let�s say 1080p etc, (the videos were My own videos, so i had the Raw original to compare to).
But i guess they use higher settings for some reason, though the size was the same i guess they use some pretty fast h264 settings to get by?

I have wanted to do that, but i can�t get the encoder to work when i made a build.
Can you link the latest encoder, or build it for me if you have the possibility?

Can you change topic to "comparing youtoobe encodes" or something more appropriate (such generalization is annoying)? Thanks :)

8th August 2012, 14:15

Google promote WebM as replacement for H.264 - they explicitly refuse to support H.264 even if H.264 is better, even if it better for customer.
At least we will get Opus audio codec (royality free and open source) instead of AAC. Latest listening tests show that at 64kbps opus beats Apple/Fraunhofer HE-AAC. Also turns out that Vorbis will be dead soon ;)

8th August 2012, 16:30

At least we will get Opus audio codec (royality free and open source) instead of AAC. Latest listening tests show that at 64kbps opus beats Apple/Fraunhofer HE-AAC. Also turns out that Vorbis will be dead soon ;)

Yes but. - new codecs are good for PC (CPU vendors) and some mobile devices but hey are bad for industry with HW decoder implementations - even if HW is primitive and specialized semi programmable DSP still it can be less efficient and some times can't be reprogrammed at all - they introduce new codecs faster than market can adopt them - this is insane.

8th August 2012, 18:56

Well. given H.262 was adopted for std-def TV broadcasts. H.264 was adopted for high-def TV broadcasts. What's the betting H.265 will be adopted for ultra high-def TV broadcasts :D

8th August 2012, 20:30

they adopted subset of the h264 standard for high-def stuff. Dunno why. Maybe because otherwise it will be too expensive to produce hardware that can decode it and they will have hard time filling all space on blurays? If that's so, by adopting h265 they'll lose more than win, money-wise. cause it will be more cpu-hungry and they will have to sell 1BD where now they sell 2. Or if they'll adopt subset again, it will be no better :D
EDIT: however they may adopt subset and force everyone to buy new hardware to get the same stuff (from user's point of view). that will be no good =)

12th August 2012, 19:11

Okay but one last thing, will VP8 be able to Beat/Compare to X264 for it�s use across the internet?
Or do you think it�s a failed project?

And about X265, i read that it�s supposed to have up to 50% less files for the same quality as X264, is this true or overestimated?

12th August 2012, 19:36

12th August 2012, 20:11

Please understand that there is a difference between a video format (H.264 and VP8) and a video encoder (x264 and libvpx). If I remember Dark Shikari's writings about VP8 correctly, VP8 could be a decent enough competitor to H.264. The encoders are a different story. As far as I know, libvpx does not come close to x264 despite some "recent" improvements to libvpx. The xvp8 spin-off is still a work in progress.

As for the upcoming video standard widely known as H.265 or HEVC, it is widely said to be "50% better" than H.264 but there don't seem to be any encoders ready for a comparison.

12th August 2012, 20:17

Yes of course, but i don�t understand the thing with the different Encoders, i mean, from my perspective, H264 is H264 no matter what encoder, but this isn�t true right?
Even if the bitstream and all is following the standard, different Encoders do better or worse, and x264 is The Best(i think?) H264 encoder out there?

But that is the lack from libvpx (Googles vp8 encoder?) compared to X264(i understand that x264 has been massively improved by the community over the years.).

12th August 2012, 20:25

basicly vp8 standard does NOT have as advanced algorithms as h.264 specification.

13th August 2012, 11:01

And about X265, i read that it�s supposed to have up to 50% less files for the same quality as X264, is this true or overestimated?
Thanks:)
No, the HEVC project is only about 30% better than the H.264 on tools. There is no H.265 or X265, the official name is HEVC.
You can read the latest comparison in the document JCTVC-J0236 (http://phenix.int-evry.fr/jct/doc_end_user/documents/10_Stockholm/wg11/JCTVC-J0236-v5.zip).

13th August 2012, 16:50

HEVC was supposed to be able to give room for 50% improvement (or so I heard). referense HEVC encoder maybe beats reference AVC encoder but so far x264 beats both.
BTW for me speed also matters. Is it possible for some HEVC encoder to deliver 50% less filesize for the same quality at the same encoding speed as x264? I hardly believe even in 30% number. I don't need these 30% if it will take me week of continious 100% cpu load to encode a movie.

13th August 2012, 17:05

The point of HEVC is to increase compression at the expense of computational complexity, which means it'll rather be slower then faster.

13th August 2012, 18:36

HEVC was supposed to be able to give room for 50% improvement (or so I heard). referense HEVC encoder maybe beats reference AVC encoder but so far x264 beats both.
BTW for me speed also matters. Is it possible for some HEVC encoder to deliver 50% less filesize for the same quality at the same encoding speed as x264? I hardly believe even in 30% number. I don't need these 30% if it will take me week of continious 100% cpu load to encode a movie.

You can read the JCTVC-J0236, the HEVC is with 22.1% better than the H.264 for all intra coding (IIII coding), 33.7% better for random access coding (the most efficient coding, hierarchical B coding), 36.7% better for the low delay coding (IBBBBBB coding).
There is no the highly optimized HEVC encoder currently. But it is easy to say that the HEVC decoding complexity is comparable to the H.264 decoder.

13th August 2012, 19:11

You can read the JCTVC-J0236, the HEVC is with 22.1% better than the H.264 for all intra coding (IIII coding), 33.7% better for random access coding (the most efficient coding, hierarchical B coding), 36.7% better for the low delay coding (IBBBBBB coding).
There is no the highly optimized HEVC encoder currently. But it is easy to say that the HEVC decoding complexity is comparable to the H.264 decoder.

Yes I understand that it may be better by xx%, but what price we should pay for it?

lets say with x264 i'm encoding source at 5fps with target filesize 500Mb and recieve some quality X
can some hypothetical highly optimized HEVC encoder encode the same source with the same speed (5fps or faster) and give result with the same filesize (500Mb or smaller) and quality X+30%?
If no, this is not much of an improvement. Sounds like something similar to x264 --preset uberplacebo ^__^

13th August 2012, 19:33

Yes I understand that it may be better by xx%, but what price we should pay for it?

lets say with x264 i'm encoding source at 5fps with target filesize 500Mb and recieve some quality X
can some hypothetical highly optimized HEVC encoder encode the same source with the same speed (5fps or faster) and give result with the same filesize (500Mb or smaller) and quality X+30%?
If no, this is not much of an improvement. Sounds like something similar to x264 --preset uberplacebo ^__^

Assuming that the future HEVC encoder is same optimized with the x264, you can expect the 30% better quality with the same filesize but I believe that you must pay by more computation load. In other word, you get the 30% gain by more computation load.
Besides, I don't believe that the x264 placebo is 30% better than the x264 slow.

13th August 2012, 19:49

Besides, I don't believe that the x264 placebo is 30% better than the x264 slow.

Of course no. What I said is far from real-world example. I just hoped that after all HEVC brings some new efficient algoritms. Having like 10-20% improvement without any additional computation load is probably a minimum that I can call real improvement that worth establishing the whole new standard. So far looks like this is just moneymaking machine for them, nothing more.

13th August 2012, 23:29

Comparing HEVC with x264 atm is stupid. HEVC is only new, give it some time to be optimized.

x264 was by no means fast when it first hit the scene either. It's had 7+ years to optimize speed/quality.
http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=141352

A better comparison would be a build of x264 from around 2005/2006 with a current HEVC build. They would both have about the same development hours.

edit: it feels like not long ago, that everyone was complaining about the slow speed of x264 vs xvid.

15th August 2012, 11:50

so vp8 is not the "shit" if i say so?

What�s the problem with it?


H.264 is far more flexible and cover wider area of the potential use scenarios, also efficient H.264 HW decoders (low power consumption) are vital for portable devices - VP8 still is mostly implemented as a software not hardware thus it will reduce area potential uses to non-portable mostly.


I mean, it�s Open Source and all, isn�t it what we have been waiting for?

It have only open source encoder/decoder and available some documentation however H.264 have also open source encoder/decoder available and H.264 is much better documented. VP8 don't have even draft of standard comparable in terms quality of description to this available for H.264.

However VP8 is NOT open source as it can be (should be) - it was pointed at the beginning that VP8 is closed codec.
Also no royalties it is only claim of Google however real situation around VP8 is not so clear.

15th August 2012, 15:44

Assuming that the future HEVC encoder is same optimized with the x264, you can expect the 30% better quality with the same filesize but I believe that you must pay by more computation load. In other word, you get the 30% gain by more computation load.
Besides, I don't believe that the x264 placebo is 30% better than the x264 slow.

So by 50% they were referring not to H.264 but to MPEG 4 or what?
It sounds strange that internal documents shows 30% improvement while the PR went for 50%.

And it has been shown that encoder and tuning matters MUCH more then spec. So unless there is another x264 team alike works on HEVC, any HEVC wont be outperforming x264 anytime soon. Which is rather sad.

The good thing about HEVC though is that we can get rid of the H.264 profile silliness. The difference from Baseline to High is far too great. And we can finally have Apple to adopt a spec that offers potential higher quality video with dedicated Hardware decoder.

15th August 2012, 18:32

So by 50% they were referring not to H.264 but to MPEG 4 or what?
It sounds strange that internal documents shows 30% improvement while the PR went for 50%.
You can refer to the references of the document JCTVC-J0236, there are some old comparisons. There is the results for the IBBBBB comfiguration that shows about 50% gain.

15th August 2012, 20:48

And it has been shown that encoder and tuning matters MUCH more then spec.
Infact from a 'finished' HEVC encoder you can probably expect even higher ratio of improvements. The standard is quite new btw, you can't compare a new reference encoder with another encoder with years of development.

16th August 2012, 08:18

Is there any HEVC encoder released?
Would be fun to play around with it:)

H264 vs WebM and HTML5 video - DotA Forums

H264 vs WebM [and HTML5 video] H264 vs WebM [and HTML5 video]

Many of you are aware of the HTML5 Video tag which allows videos to be played back from web natively (instead using flash/sliverlight etc).

There is a problem about it. The original spec doesn't mention anything about the format.

So until recently, it has been like this:
Apple [Safari]: h264, aac, mp3
Microsoft [IE9]: h264, aac, mp3 [and WebM if the user has installed the codec]
Mozilla [Firefox]: theora, webm
Opera [Opera]: theora, webm
Google [Chrome]: all of them!

Note: Personally I don't like Chrome but I've always liked this aspect of Chrome


In an ideal world, you'd have all browsers supporting the best codec (which is h264).
But for a long time, it seemed like Apple/MS will only support h264 out of the box. Mozilla/Opera will only support Theora out of the box. And Google will support all of them.

Fast forward some time, Google bought the VP8 (aka WebM) codec, made it freely available and proposed VP8 as the standard web video. They started to support this format in Chrome. Soon, mozilla and opera supported it too.

However, Apple and MS did not support WebM. MS made sure IE9 supports WebM IF the user installs the codec on his/her PC.


Now, recently, Google did something nobody thought of. They announced they will remove h264 support from Chrome. Details available here [ link and link ].

Google says they are doing it for the good of the people. But they fail to provide the necessary arguments. They say it is for "open web" and bundle flash in their browser.

Let us first see pros and cons of h264/WebM.

H264
Pros
  • An ISO standard
  • An open standard with proper spec [see x264]
  • Excellent compression ratio
  • Technologically superior than ANY other codecs
  • Widely used
  • Hardware acceleration supported on nearly every modern video device
  • Immune to lawsuits
Cons
  • Patented by MPEG-LA. Royalties are required.
Note
  • Royalties are only required if you are charging your users for video. As long as you provide the video for free, no royalties are required.
    For example, youtube won't have to pay anything to use H264.
    You wont have to pay anything to post your last night party video on your blog.
  • Immune to lawsuits refers to the users. Since the users are buying license from MPEG-LA, if anyone wants to sue, they have to sue MPEG-LA and MPEG-LA will have to defend it.

WebM
Pros
  • Royalty free
  • An open implementation
Cons
  • Not an ISO standard
  • Spec is controlled by Google
  • Better than Theora but inferior than H264
  • Almost zero usage
  • Hardware acceleration support is next to none
  • Prone to lawsuits!
Note
  • Without hardware acceleration, all mobile devices will suffer tremendous loss of battery life while viewing video on Internet not to mention all those choppiness that will occur.
  • Because it is not proven that WebM does NOT infringe on any patent and Google does not indemnify anyone who are/will be using WebM, if you use WebM, and someone thinks WebM infringes on their patent, you are in for a lawsuit!
    Google did the same with Android. The companies who used Android are now in hot water because of Google's doings.

--- --- --- Microsoft, has recently responded to this actions [ link ].
They have raised some valid questions and cleared their stances.
  1. Who bears the liability and risk for consumers, businesses, and developers until the legal system resolves the intellectual property issues?
  2. When and how does Google make room for the Open Web Standards community to engage genuinely?
  3. What is the plan for restoring consistency across devices, Web services, and the PC?
And here's Microsoft's Stance: Microsoft�s Point of View and Plan for IE9 As context for the questions below, here�s a re-cap of Microsoft�s point of view and plan for IE9.
  • IE9 will play HTML5 video in the H.264 format. Why H.264? It is a high-quality and widely-used video format that serves the Web very well today. We describe many of those reasons in blog posts here. here. and here .
  • Any browser running on Windows can play H.264 video via the built-in Windows APIs that support the format. Our point of view here is that Windows customers should be able to play mainstream video on the Web. We�ve provided Windows 7 customers who choose to run Mozilla Firefox an add-on to enable playing H.264 video on Web pages with the HTML5 video tag. Today we�re making available a similar plug-in for Google Chrome .
  • IE9 users who install third-party WebM video support on Windows will be able to play WebM video in IE. We chose[. ].
Our point of view is totally clear. Our support for H.264 results from our views about a robust Web and video ecosystem that provides a rich level of functionality, is the product of an open standards process like the W3C�s HTML5 specification, and has been free from legal attacks. Microsoft is agnostic and impartial about the actual underlying video format for HTML5 video as long as this freedom continues.
Our commitment to play WebM videos in IE9 for users who have installed WebM demonstrates our approach. We have worked closely with Google to help them deliver a WebM implementation on Windows and Google engineers are on the Microsoft campus this week; we appreciate their positive feedback to date around this work.
The ball is on Google's court now. Their actions recently can be described by, "open this, open that, open web and flash!". Let us see how they respond.

WebM vs: A First Look

WebM vs. H.264: A First Look

This article compares H.264 to WebM, Google's implementation of the VP8 codec, using three variables (encoding time, compressed quality, and CPU requirements) for playback on three personal computers. Here's the CliffsNotes version of the results: Using Sorenson Squeeze to produce both H.264 and WebM, the latter definitely took longer, but there are techniques that you can use to reduce the spread to less than 25%, which is pretty much irrelevant. Though H.264 offers slightly higher quality than the VP8 codec used by WebM using the aggressive (e.g. very low data rate) parameters that I tested, at normal web parameters, you couldn't tell the difference without a score card. Even compared to H.264 files produced with x264, VP8 holds its own.

The most significant difference between the technologies is the required CPU horsepower to play back the respective files, as shown in Table 1, which contains the results from four different computers. All numbers are "best case," or the lowest CPU utilization in any of the tested browsers. More on test procedures later.

On a MacBook Pro with GPU acceleration for H.264 decoding, WebM took 38% of the total CPU to play back a 720p file, compared to 24% for H.264 played via Flash and 15% via HTML5 in Apple Safari. On an Acer Aspire One netbook without GPU acceleration for H.264, WebM was actually slightly more efficient than H.264 played back either via Flash or HTML5, though the difference wasn't significant. Note that the tests on this small-screen netbook involved an 640x480 file, not 720p.

On an HP 8710w mobile workstation with GPU acceleration for H.264 playback, H.264 via Flash required 70% less CPU power than WebM to play back the 720p file, and H.264 via HTML5 took 47% less CPU power. On my daughter's iMac, WebM and nonaccelerated Flash-based H.264 playback ran neck and neck, while Apple's Safari, presumably with hardware acceleration, proved 54% more efficient than WebM.

Basically, though, there are huge swings with the individual browsers. Where GPU acceleration exists for H.264, it's significantly more efficient than WebM; where it doesn't, the two formats run neck and neck. At this point, between Flash Player 10.1 with hardware acceleration on supported graphics cards and platforms and Apple's own Safari browser, there are a lot of hardware-accelerated platforms for H.264 playback and few if any for WebM, though they may come in time.

Interestingly, on the WebM website, Google says, "Note: The initial developer preview releases of browsers supporting WebM are not yet fully optimized and therefore have a higher computational footprint for screen rendering than we expect for the general releases. The computational efficiencies of WebM are more accurately measured today using the development tools in the VP8 SDKs. Optimizations of the browser implementations are forthcoming."

Truth be told, I'm not that much of a geek, so the low-level development tools were a nonstarter for me. However, I did download the DirectShow components to my two Windows computers and played the WebM file via Windows Media Player. On the HP 8710w, CPU load during playback of the same HD WebM file was 18%, with all acceleration disabled, compared to a low of 70% on any of the tested browsers and 21% for hardware-accelerated Flash H.264 playback. On the Acer Aspire One, CPU load dropped to 24%, 30% with hardware acceleration disabled, down from a low of 51% with any of the tested browsers and compared to 53% for nonhardware accelerated Flash-based H.264 playback.

I'm from Missouri (the "Show Me" state) when it comes to all codec-related claims, so I'm not willing to assume that subsequent updates will reduce browser-based WebM playback loads to these levels. If that occurs, however, the value proposition for WebM as compared to H.264 changes to similar quality, a bit slower encode, but much lower playback requirements, which could be pretty compelling, particularly for low-powered mobile markets.

Now that you know the end of the story, let's dive in at the beginning.

WebM: A Brief History

According to www.webmproject.org/about. WebM is a "royalty-free, media file format designed for the web." Briefly, WebM uses the VP8 video codec that Google purchased from On2, the Vorbis audio codec, and a file structure based upon the Matroska container. Though WebM is new, the VP8 codec itself was first launched on Sept. 13, 2008, and comes with some history and some baggage. The history is its predecessor, VP6, which came to prominence when Adobe bundled it into Flash. It is still the most widely used video codec on the internet today. The baggage includes statements in the VP8 press release such as the following:

"With the introduction of On2 VP8, On2 Video now dramatically surpasses the compression performance of all other commercially available formats. For example, leading H.264 implementations require as much as twice the data to deliver the same quality video as On2 VP8 (as measured in objective peak signal to noise ratio [PSNR] testing)."

The press release continues: "In addition, the On2 VP8 bitstream requires fewer processing cycles to decode, so users do not need to have the latest and greatest PC or mobile device to enjoy On2 VP8 video quality."

During the 11 months that followed the release, On2 never made VP8 available for testing, at least not to me or Streaming Media. And after Google signed the agreement to purchase On2 on Aug. 5, 2009, information about VP8 became tougher to find than President Obama's fabled Kenyan birth certificate. Google closed the deal on Feb. 19, 2010, and launched WebM on May 19.

Google has never repeated the exact claims that On2 made in the initial press release. But when Google makes claims such as "highest quality real-time video delivery" and "low computational footprint," it does draw some skepticism. It's also important to note that VP8 is not a new technology-it's actually been around for close to 2 years, so it doesn't get the benefit of the doubt on initial quality or encoding-related issues. That said, you'd have to assume that all browser-related ports began after Google signed the agreement to purchase On2 (August 2009) and perhaps as late as after the deal closed in February, so there certainly could be room for improvement there.

That's the chatty background. Let's start looking at test results.

Encoding

For encoding, I looked at encoding speed and video quality; let's start with the former. As mentioned, I used a prerelease version of Sorenson Squeeze 6.0.4.63 to produce both the WebM and H.264 files. I produced two test files-one SD, one HD-using long standardized encoding parameters. For the SD file, this meant a target data rate of 500Kbps (468 video/ 32Kbps audio), using two-pass VBR encoding with all quality-related settings set to the max. The Squeeze interface makes this simple, with only a few VP8-related encoding controls, such as trading off size versus complexity and compression quality versus speed (Figure 1 ).

Figure 1. Key VP8-related encoding options in the Squeeze interface. Note the Encoding Threads option.

Interestingly, one of the benefits that Google touts about WebM on its website is "Click and encode. Minimal codec profiles, sub-options; when possible, let the encoder make the tough choices." I was certainly willing to do that and used Sorenson-provided presets for the most part, along with the required adjustments to meet my resolution and data rate targets.

For H.264, I used the High profile, with CABAC enabled, with three B-frames and three-reference frames, and encoding effort set to best. To complete the circle, I configured the HD test files at 720p at a VBR data rate of 800Kbps video/128Kbps audio (Figure 2 ).

Figure 2.The H.264-related options used in the test comparison.

When producing both WebM and H.264, Squeeze lets you improveencoding speed by using multiple CPUs-WebM via the Encoding Threads option shown in Figure 1, H.264 by using multiple slices (not shown in Figure 2). As you can see in Table 2, I tested using one thread/slice and 12 threads/slices on my HP Z800 with two six-core 3.33GHz Xeon processors, doubled to 24 total cores via hyperthreaded technology (HTT).

With one thread selected, producing the WebM file was very inefficient, with only about 4% of available CPU utilized, and producing the WebM file took almost four times longer than H.264. With 12 threads/slices selected, CPU utilization jumped to as high as 30%, and the differential dropped to less than 25% for the SD file, though WebM still took 85% longer for the HD file. Note that I tried encoding with all 24 threads enabled, and it actually slowed encoding time.

The rap against using multiple threads/slices is that it can degrade quality because the encoder doesn't search for interframe redundancies between slices, just within each slice. However, I compared the two WebM files and saw minimal, if any, quality differential. Run your own comparison on your content to verify this. But if encoding time is a concern for you, buy a 24-core system like the Z800 and use multiple threads when producing your WebM files. The bottom line is that WebM takes longer to encode, but the differential isn't that great and probably will only impact high-volume shops.

Quality Trials

When WebM was first announced, I compared a WebM file against an H.264 file produced by Sorenson Squish. I concluded that "H.264 still offers better quality, but the difference wouldn't be noticeable in most applications." Now, I've spent a bunch of time producing both formats, and I've reached the same conclusion.

Note that Sorenson Squeeze uses the MainConcept codec, which has been the highest quality commercially available codec in my comparison tests. To supplement these tests, I also produced comparison files with the x264 codec, using the QuickTime-based x264Encoder version 1.2.13 (dated 6/27/2010) set to the highest quality, slowest encode preset (Figure 3 ).

Figure 3.Settings used to create the x264 comparison files.

In my tests, x264 produced slightly higher quality than the H.264 files produced by Squeeze with the Main Concept encoder, which was slightly better than WebM (Figure 4 ). In my view, however, slight differences in quality are irrelevant if the typical viewer wouldn't notice the difference absent side-by-side comparisons at normal data rates.

Figure 4.Three comparison images produced with x264, WebM and H.264 using the Main Concept codec (click image to see a larger version ).

To explain, I produce my 720p test file at 800Kbps,which means that I'm allocating .029 bits per pixel in the 29.97 frame per second file. In comparison, YouTube produces its 720p H.264 video at about 2Mbps, which means an allocation of .072 bits per pixel, 2.5 times higher than mine. Why are my test files compressed so highly? Because if the data rate is high enough, all technologies look good, and it's impossible to differentiate.

What's the most relevant test? In my recent review of video files produced by a range of broadcast and corporate sites, the lowest bits per pixel allocation that I found was 0.43, with most well above .07. Apple produces its iPad advertisements at .168 bits per pixel, about five times higher than my test file, while ESPN produces at .173 and CNN at .106. The notoriously penurious Tiger Woods publishes at .136, though perhaps he'll tighten this up after losing $750 million in his divorce.

Long story short, if YouTube produces its WebM-based 720p files at 2Mbps at 720p, only the most discriminating viewer will be able to distinguish it from H.264, and then, only with side-by-side comparisons, which, of course, viewers never have. It's not whether one technology is better than another; it's whether it's sufficiently better to make a difference for the typical viewer.

I should point out that some highly respected sources don't share this opinion. For example, the Graphics and Media Lab of Moscow State University produces a codec comparison every year; this year it included VP8. In terms of H.264 encoding quality, the report concludes that "[t]he x264 encoder demonstrates better quality on average, and MainConcept shows slightly lower quality," which was my primary motivation for including x264 in this evaluation. Regarding VP8, the report concludes, "When comparing VP8 and x264 VP8 also shows 5-25 lower encoding speed with 20-30% lower quality at average." I just didn't see that.

Then there's x264 developer Jason Garrett-Glaser's extensive analysis of VP8 and comparison to x264, which concludes that x264 is 28% better than VP8, though his comparisons seem to focus on 1080p delivery, so it's unclear how much you can generalize these results to streaming. In any event, Garrett-Glaser's analysis is wonderful reading for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of the VP8 codec and WebM spec, as well as the patent issues that WebM may be facing.

Both these comparisons rely primarily on automated quality measurements such as Peak Signal to Noise ratio (PSNR) and Structured Similarly (SSIM), which compare the encoded frame to the original and produce a comparative numerical score. I produce the files with the different technologies, making sure that they're within 5% of the target data rate without dropped frames. I then grab frames for comparison purposes and watch the files side by side to assess the presence of motion artifacts. You can view my HD comparisons at www.doceo.com/HD_Comps.html and my SD comparisons at www.doceo.com/SD_Comps.html. and comparative frame grabs are at www.streaminglearningcenter.com. Draw your own conclusions.

Overall, I'm sure that Garrett-Glaser can coax more quality out of x264 than I can. But find comfort in the fact that the Moscow study concluded that MainConcept "shows slightly lower quality" than x264, which is consistent with my results. Certainly, if you're using a MainConcept-based tool such as Squeeze, the quality difference between VP8 and H.264 will be meaningless at most relevant data rates.

Playback Requirements

Which takes us neatly back to playback requirements, which is where we started. Let's introduce the computers and browsers.

Briefly, I tested on four computers. The MacBook Pro has a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 8GB RAM, and was running OS 10.6.2 with an NVIDIA GeForce 9600M graphic chip. The iMac has a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo CPU, 2.5GB of RAM, and an ATI Radeon X1600 graphics chip while running OS 10.6.

The HP 8710w was running a 64-bit version of Windows 7 on a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU with 2GB of RAM and an NVIDIA Quadro FX 1600M graphics controller. The Acer Aspire One is a netbook running Windows XP Home Edition with a 1.60GHz Intel Atom CPU, 1GB of RAM, and an integrated Intel 945 Express Chipset for graphics. All computers except the Aspire netbook were measured playing back the 720p file, and Table 3 shows the browsers used in the respective tests.

During testing, I followed this procedure:
• I turned off as many background processes as possible.
• I updated my graphics card drivers.
• First, I loaded the page and waited until the video completely downloaded (watching the little bar thingie on the bottom of the player).
• Next, I played the file, monitoring and recording the CPU usage on Windows Task Manager and percentage idle on the Activity Monitor. Obviously, to compute CPU utilization for the Macs, I subtracted the percentage idle from 100%.

Table 4 shows the results grouped by format and playback environment. Pulling some conclusions out of these disparate numbers is challenging, but here goes. Most obvious is the fractured nature of the HTML5 market, which still lacks a single codec that can play across all platforms. With Microsoft only supporting VP8 playback on IE 9 if the codec is otherwise installed, and Apple squarely in the H.264 camp, Google's open sourcing of VP8 has done nothing to reduce this logjam. As you have probably heard, Adobe has announced that a future version of the Flash Player will support WebM at some point; that may end up being the only easy way to display WebM video across all relevant browsers. However, one suspects that you could buy a Tastee Freez in Hades before WebM will play on the walled garden of Apple iDevices.

If you're a Mac owner who consumes lots of video, you can see that results vary by browser and if your Flash implementation is hardware accelerated. If it is, Safari is your best option; if not, go with Chrome. As a random thought, people watching Flash-video on a nonaccelerated Mac via Opera or Safari probably consider Flash a CPU hog-I wonder if their opinions would change if they did switch to Chrome. Ditto for HTML5-based H.264 playback on the Mac, where Safari is the efficiency king and Chrome the laggard.

Regarding WebM, on the platforms without Flash GPU acceleration (the iMac and Aspire), the most efficient WebM implementation required less CPU than the most efficient Flash implementation, though the WebM implementations varied more widely. Absent hardware acceleration, CPU utilization on playback appears to be a wash.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, when playing a WebM 720p file on the HP 8710w via Media Player, CPU requirements dropped to 18%, about a third of the requirement of the most efficient browser and within spitting distance of GPU-accelerated Flash playback. On the Aspire for the 640x480 file, CPU load dropped to 24%; 30% with hardware acceleration disabled, which is much lower than any other tested technology. If any of the browser vendors can enable this level of efficiency for web-based playback, WebM would have a significant competitive advantage over H.264, whether Flash- or HTML5-based. If not, given that many newer computers and mobile devices offer some measure of Flash acceleration, WebM may trail in quality, encoding speed, and playback efficiency.

Analysis

As it stands today, WebM's value proposition is basically that it's free and better than Ogg Theora; though it's way too tough to decode as compared to the rapidly expanding base of GPU-accelerated H.264. If the browser vendors and Google can reduce CPU playback requirements to levels shown in Media Player, however, the story changes considerably, at least for pay-per-view and subscription-based video distributors, who currently pay a fee to deliver H.264 video. Ironically, given the lack of universal HTML5 browser support, the most efficient way to distribute WebM to your customers may be via the Flash Player, assuming that the Flash Player's CPU playback requirements are competitive. You'll probably still have to write checks to MPEG-LA for delivering to Apple's iDevices, however.

As you probably know, H.264 is royalty-free for free internet distribution, at least through 2015, so there's no financial incentive to switch. If your organization wants to migrate toward HTML5, WebM doesn't provide that single codec solution, is still lower quality than H.264 (however small the difference), and takes longer to encode. Overall, for those not charging for their video, H.264 is still a better solution, and given the rapidly increasing size of the GPU-accelerated installed base, it will likely remain so, unless and until Google creates distribution channels that you can't access with H.264.

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