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What is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC

Rob Parsons Updated on Apr 15, 2022 4:22 PM


H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 Part 10, Advanced Video Coding) is a video compression codec that supports ultra high definition of video. The purpose of H.264 is to offer premium video quality at lower bit rates than other compression standards such as MPEG-2 and H.263. H.264 is entitled to patent protection that involves a wide range of different parties. Those who use H.264 technology for commercial purpose have to pay a fee to MPEG LA and other parties concerned.

Visit our: how to convert MPEG to MP4 (h.264) on a Mac computer

Because of its flexibility, this video compression standard can also be used in many applications ranging from broadcast, multimedia and telephony systems to streaming video online like YouTube and Vimeo as well as other platforms. AVCHD, a different version of H.264, is a HD video format that is used by most famous camcorder manufactures like Sony and Panasonic. You can make use of AVCHD file format to create high quality video which can be burned to DVD disc. H.264 is perhaps best known as being one of the video encoding standards for Blu-ray discs.

Features of H.264

  • Support a wide variety of video compression standards whether they are at low or high bit rates with high or low video quality.
  • Produce a high definition video with greater compression than other previous video codecs.
  • Feature high coding efficiency, in a effort to reduce the file size, without taking up much memory space and using much network bandwidth.

The biggest advantage of H.264 is that it has high compression rate when compressing data. In an equal visual quality condition, the compression rate of H.264 is twice more than that of MPEG-2 and 1.5-2 times of MPEG-4. That is to say, with an original 80GB file, it turns into 3.5GB with MPEG-2 compression standard while with H.264, the file is compressed into 800MB or so. And the marvelous compression rate of H.264 is reached to 102 to 1.

Derived formats

  • AVCHD, designed by Sony and Panasonic, is a high-definition recording format that uses H.264. If you'd like to convert a AVCHD files to something more acceptable on computer, see how can you convert AVCHD .mts to MOV format.
  • AVC-Intra, also developed by Panasonic, is compression format that allows intraframe only.
  • XAVC is a recoding format which uses the highest level of 5.2 of H.264/mpeg-4 AVC. XAVC can support 4K resolution (4096 × 2160 and 3840 × 2160), which may achieve 60 frames per second (fps).

The Difference Between MP4 and H.264

MP4 is perhaps the most widely used video file format for playing videos on the web, multiple devices and various platforms. Usually, MP4 video format is encoded with MPEG-4 and AAC. Technically speaking, MP4 is a file container while H.264 is a video compression codec that needs a container to house it. In most cases, H.264 is considered as a MP4 file that is compressed with H.264 video codec.

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