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ExtremeTech Wages War of the Codecs

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the compressing-the-bits dept.

Software 356

prostoalex writes "ExtremeTech tested Windows Media, DivX, QuickTime/Sorenson and QuickTime/MPEG4 codecs. They encoded clips from Matrix Reloaded, Monsters, Inc., X2 and Spider-Man. QuickTime/Sorenson won the encoding speed contest, for the quality tests read the entire review, as each movie sample was encoded with 500KB and 1MB bitrates. Video samples provided on the site as well, so see for yourself."

cancel ×


fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535771)


I can't log in. (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536019)

What the fucking shit?


But no Xvid? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535781)

They expect to have their opinion valued on Slashdot when they don't review the open source video codec? (It generally wins in other tests.)

Dont forget ffmpeg (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535822)

Dont want to piss off the BSD crowd either!

Doom9's Comparison (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535866)

Here's their most recent codec shootout [] with 3ivx, Divx, ffvfw, Nero, Real, On2 and Xvid. Xvid wins [] .

Re:But no Xvid? (0)

apparently (756613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536028)

They expect to have their opinion valued on Slashdot where on their web page do they say that they care what the slashdot kiddies think?

Re:But no Xvid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536041)

Well, someone expected Slashdot readers to care.

Re:But no Xvid? (1)

azav (469988) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536168)

No 3ivx either. Bit of a bummer since I used 3ivx to produce mp4 compliant quicktimes for a 60 inch plasma screen for the boardroom of a company.

Great quality, speed and ease of compression.

I smell... (3, Funny)

xSquaredAdmin (725927) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535785)

a/.ing "video samples provided on the site as well, so see for yourself."

Re:I smell... (1)

Orgazmus (761208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535809)

I can smell, feel and soon see it

These encoding algorithms... (2, Funny)

Raindance (680694) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535790)

... pale in comparison to ASCII-mation.

Episode four in under a meg!

Re:These encoding algorithms... (3, Interesting)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535835)

Seriously, there is a program on Apple's site that will show any quicktime movie on the terminal. It renders a movie as characters on the terminal. Though if the movie is large then it tends to look bad since it doesn't wrap correctly.

Re:These encoding algorithms... (4, Informative)

proj_2501 (78149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535916)

mplayer can do that with the aalib output plugin.

Re:These encoding algorithms... (0)

Tribbin (565963) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535937)

"... as each movie sample was encoded with 500KB and 1MB bitrates."

You do not get the same quality at 500kb/s or 1mb/s

Hahahahaha (2, Funny)

Erwos (553607) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535800)

"Video samples provided on the site as well, so see for yourself."

Yeah, as if there was any chance of THAT happening after you submitted that site to /. Good one!


I love Slashdot! (-1, Insightful)

markv242 (622209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535802)

Because Windows Media wins the quality shootout, they say "check the site". You have to know that if DivX won the quality tests, it would be in all caps in the headline! Ha!

Re:I love Slashdot! (3, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535842)

Because Windows Media wins the quality shootout, they say "check the site". You have to know that if DivX won the quality tests, it would be in all caps in the headline! Ha!

Moderators, wake up!
If you do check the site you will see that Windows Media didn't win - it was a toss up.

Re:I love Slashdot! (5, Informative)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535942)

Did you read the *whole* article? They state very plainly at the end that "DivX encoded clips tended to have a touch more detail, but also a few more compression artifacts, than the WMV9 video" and that DivX encodes much faster than WMV9. In brief, the only reason for choosing WMV9 over DivX is that it may be included in upcoming consumer devices.

Bah....... (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535808)

Bah, they should have used the nipple scene from Spider Man. The rest of the movie was a total wash.

Re:Bah....... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535926)

there was a nipple scene in Spider Man? must've been the European edition... :(


Re:Bah....... (4, Funny)

justMichael (606509) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536090)

I think they were referring to the upside down kiss scene, where she is in a white shirt and it just happens to be raining...

Close enough to nipple for /.

Re:Bah....... (1)

SocietyoftheFist (316444) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535950)

You sir, are correct!

Dammit, here's a link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536107)

Nipple still []

stills vs. motion... (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535814)

I took a look at there sample images and found very little difference (other than MPEG4 obviously) in their quality.

It is very difficult for ME to decide between them. I have never actually seen any QT movies up for download as far as real movies go. Most movies are encoded with divx and seem to work just fine.

Do people really care about minor differences in quality when the file sizes are down to 710mb? I know I don't. Blurred motion is just something I deal with when I download something.

Encoding time is important only if you do this regularly. For those of us just watching a movie it doesn't matter. Whatever gives me the smallest file size with a decent picture is what I want to go w/.

Re:stills vs. motion... (4, Interesting)

Erratio (570164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535891)

One big factor which is neglected in this article is compatibility. I don't do too much with video files but a decent amount with audio and sometimes there are formats with minor quality differences, but what ultimately decides which to use is how many players can handle it easily. It doesn't come into consideration quite as much for personal archiving and controlled environments, but even then you can't tell what the future will bring and a little flexibilty now saves time later.

Of course people care (4, Insightful)

poptones (653660) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536129)

Not all of us use this stuff for DOWNLOADING MOVIES. I haven't downloaded a movie in ages - I don't have the bandwidth. However I have several on my hdd and use xvid not only for archiving music videos and shows I enjoy, but also to get around the general DVD suckiness (movies that degrade over time, stutter, and require me to go back to the disc every time I want to watch one).

I like having all my movies and music and shows just a mouse click away. No fondling media, no DVD drives whooshing and movies stuttering halfway throgh because some tiny piece of schmutz got on the precious disc. In order to do this, I don't care at all what 500kbs or 1mbps files look like - The Twins effect [] alone occupies about 2GB on one of my drives, and I still haven't been able to produce a rip of Natural City [] that satisfies me even when the last one I tried was nearly 4GB (lots of film grain in that one and I don't care to lose it).

Yes... many of us care about quality. In fact, this is the very reason I rip DVDs - so the programs I enjoy play (more smoothly) from my hard drive.

I wonder what people are going to say about WMP9 (0, Insightful)

MSFanBoi (695480) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535816)

Looks like WMP9 won overall... Sure QT may be fast, but it looks like poop most of the time...

Re:I wonder what people are going to say about WMP (1)

RobertTaylor (444958) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535878)

I wonder what people are going to say about WMP9

People wont say a word about WMP9 but they will question where XviD was in these tests...

Jonty! Neil! Work!! :)


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535928)

Exactly what I was going to say.

Not fucking fair tests if they dont have half the competition.

Re:I wonder what people are going to say about WMP (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536037)

it is because XviD would fucking own the competition so badly there is no point in testing it... XviD usually looks just as good as DVD but at 700 megs... I don't know about at lower data-rates but XviD is THE BEST format for DVD to CDR conversion (well the TMD releases are nice cause you fit two on a CD but they look like shit and are always in two parts)


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536172)

100% correct

I don't care. (4, Insightful)

MooKore 2004 (737557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535817)

Thanks to the hard work of the Mplayer team, I can play any video format I want. If you havent tried it, you should.

Get mplayer []

Damn Codecs! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535818)

How do they expect me to keep pirating Hollywood movies if they keep changing the damn codec?!

XviD wasn't tested. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535819)

Not even worth reading if you're going to exclude the best stinkin' codec. G'job extremewannabe

No XVid? (4, Informative)

Rexz (724700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535823)

I'm suprised XviD, an open source, MPEG-4 compliant codec wasn't tested. It's quickly becoming a standard for the transfer of large movies, and its open source nature has all of the usual benefits: alternatives, power and no constraints or adware. I suggest anyone planning on encoding video seriously considers it. []

Re:No XVid? (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535879)

Having done a bunch of encoding myself I have to agree, Xvid is the best codec available.

They need to rework the implementation so you don't have to do two passes but everything else is exceptional.

Nevertheless I have been waiting a while for this, the other thing I want is Divx 3.11b which was a pretty amazing codec.

Re:No XVid? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535906)

Whether they hide the first pass or not, you'll need two if you really want quality. It's the only way for the codec to know for sure where it can spare bits and where it can't.

Re:No XVid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535944)

not only that, as codecs get more desperate to squeeze the last bits of quality [excuse the pun] out, we'll see encoders going more into 3-pass, 4 pass etc.

Re:No XVid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536062)

What I don't get is why so many? I've tried DivX5's "N-Pass" but I've ran it through several times without any difference at all.

Re:No XVid? (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536094)

I dunno about that. You'll always need more than one pass, but the main reason encoders do more than 2 passes is that the detection algorithms aren't as aggressive as they could be (usually for speed reasons). The ideal situation would be 2 really, really good pass to figure out how the compression scheme should best approach each piece of video, and a second pass to follow the instructions.

Re:No XVid? (2, Insightful)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536159)

Um DVD burners cost $140 cdn, high speed internet and bittorrent have made movie swapping easier and easier. Once the diffrence becomes irrelevant progress stops, for example it's going to be a long long time before something unseats 128kbps mp3 as the standard.

The question is parralel to whether something cool like rtf or swx format will be the long term universal standard or .doc. Doc. is the standard but it sucks, at the moment I think people might consider going back to mpeg 2 which I think is not a valid tradeoff but who knows.

The other reason this is important is the new HDDVD battle comming up, some people are trying to upgrade dvd decoding standard (I.E. What's in commercial dvd players) to Mpeg 4 and leave dvd sizes where they are other are trying to keep mpeg 2 but raise dvd size to 22 gigs to compensate. I think both solutions should be implemented but that's just a personal preference not a business decision.

Re:No XVid? (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536100)

I use Virtual Dub and you need to run the encoding program 2x which kinda sucks because you can't just leave it running all night you need to step in after 3hrs. I would like to use Gordian Knot but it's just too crappy the UI is terrible and the codec implementation leaves much to be desired.

Re:No XVid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535919)

I wondered as well. XVid would have whipped the snot out of all of the others.

No realplayer? No Ogg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535826)

donde estan?

Made on a Mac? (3, Interesting)

Rick Zeman (15628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535839)

I wonder how much better the QT/Sorenson and QT/MPEG4 (and maybe divX, dunno if there's an encoder) testing would have been if they were done on a Mac and the Velocity Engine could have been utilized?

Re:Made on a Mac? (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536073)

How does the velocity engine make *better* encodings using the same codecs as x86? Presuming that the codecs are implemented the same, wouldn't it just maybe do it faster?

Re:Made on a Mac? (3, Informative)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536091)

The reason its poor is that they're using the free version of Sorenson 3, as opposed to the pro version that everybody else in the world doing pro video with shelled out $300 for (and is well worth it).

What about Pixlet? (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536160)

Also, it would be interesting to see the much-hyped Pixlet codec [] compared.

What's up with MPEG4? (1)

rolocroz (625853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535851)

I didn't expect Apple's MPEG4 implementation to win this test, but seriously, WTF is up? Does it really suck that much?

Re:What's up with MPEG4? (3, Informative)

pldms (136522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536188)

I suspect that high quality wasn't enabled, which (IIRC) means that post-processing was disabled in the Apple MPEG4 decoder.

3ivx, Xvid and divx all postprocess, not unreasonably. The Apple codec makes itself look bad for no good reason.

Quality versus Speed (5, Insightful)

jamshid42 (218149) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535856)

OK, the article blurb claims that QT/Sorenson had the fastest encoding times, but also had the third-worst quality (only QT/MPEG-4 was worse). DivX seems to have the best quality, which, in my opinion, should be the end goal.

Think about it, how many times are you going to encode a movie? How many times are you going to watch it? Typically, you are going to encode once and probably watch it multiple times. Therefore, I would happily accept a little longer processing time in the beginning if that means I will end up with a better quality production.

Re:Quality versus Speed (2, Insightful)

phatsharpie (674132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536076)

This is a shootout targeting home users. So speed is important. Most home users do not have multiple machines, so while the video is being encoded, it's unlikely that they can use the machine for much else. In this case, the faster the video is encoded, the faster the home user can get their machine back.


Re:Quality versus Speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536118)

uh, it's quite easy to set an encoder to use idle cpu time. I've never had to restrict my computer use around encoding. Hell, I play ut2k4 just fine while encoding a few hours of xvid.

Re:Quality versus Speed (1)

ShadyG (197269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536154)

Think about it, how many times are you going to encode a movie? How many times are you going to watch it? Typically, you are going to encode once and probably watch it multiple times.

I think that goes: encode once, upload to your favorite P2P network, where millions of "friends" view it multiple times.

M$ does something right (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535862)

I was upset when I herad that HD-DVD will be in M$ WMV format I was upset. After reading tons of reviews and seeing results I am pretty impressed. Also the compression ratio is amazing. I wonder who they stole this off of :-) (2, Informative)

silverfuck (743326) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535870)

A useful site for all things high(ish) quality video encoding, aimed at dvd backups to cd, is Doom9 [] - see their last round of codec comparisons [] . (Frame based, so you'll need to click through from the beginning to get the menu frames etc.)

Not the best evidence. (4, Insightful)

markv242 (622209) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535874)

Posting still images isn't the best way to point out video artifacts due to compression. Post five seconds of compressed material (all of this qualifies under fair use) and let the users see the artifacts themselves. The human eye is much more likely to spot the artifacts in a movie because of our perception of motion.

logistics... (1)

McBeer (714119) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536013)

$5 says that the traffic from slashdot would bring their site down if it had video on it...

Re:Not the best evidence. (1)

Turmio (29215) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536029)

True, especially when they used lossy JPEG images! Unbelievable, why not PNG or TIFF?

Re:Not the best evidence. (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536128)

True, especially when they used lossy JPEG images! Unbelievable, why not PNG or TIFF?

Because 5 minutes after being reported on Slashdot, they'd all have been replaced with "This site has exceeded its download limit for the next 5 years. Please come back in 2009."

QTPro doesn't have the best encoders (4, Insightful)

SideshowBob (82333) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535876)

Sorenson Pro (which has 2-pass and VBR encoding) isn't available in the $30 QTPro package. Use Sorenson Squeeze or MediaCleaner.

Also, QuickTime's MPEG-4 encoder is not the best MPEG-4 encoder out there. But there are better ones available, and of course MPEG-4 being a standard, the output of those other tools will be playable in QT Player.

So to make the comparison valid, both in terms of encoding speed an quality, some other tool should've been used.

Re:QTPro doesn't have the best encoders (1)

dasmegabyte (267018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536189)

So to make the comparison valid, both in terms of encoding speed an quality, some other tool should've been used.

No, for this to be considered as the "end all, be all" answer to the question "What is the best video encoder," some other tools should have been used.

But that wasn't what this was about. It was about consumer encoders -- they specifically say "free, or for a moderate cost" ($30 was paid for QT Pro).

I mean, if they were doing a "best of all worlds" roundup, they'd have to include things like Rad Game Tool's Bink [] , which if you have a few days to encode your video will find you the best goddamn motion video solution it can.

Thanks, I think? (4, Insightful)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535877)

What a wishy-washy article. To sum up and save you the 2 minutes of your life to read that article, all 4 techs are good, and they are all good for something, bad at others. I wonder if the author could have sat on the fence any MORE when comparing the codecs.

I for one, will continue to obey my DivX Masters, they have always been good to me. It seems that the author had a hard-on for QuickTime and M$, both of which annoy the ever living crap out of me... QuickTime, with it's little icon in the toolbar that just won't go away, and Microsoft because I just can't trust them to not tell MPAA which movies I have on my HDD.

$0.02 Flamebaiting, Trolling response concluded.
(and my Karma just got back to Neutral, dang it)

Re:Thanks, I think? (1)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535990)

My problem is encoding at 500KB or 1000KB, that makes for a large as movie. I encode a quality based Xvid and that usually comes out pretty well, what codecs really need to master is the art of using high KB when it's needed and low KB when it's not, also, would you people stop encoding the damn black lines into the movie. lol. just use apropriate ratio and my player takes care of the lines, that way I don't have 300 MB of encoded black.

Come on! (5, Funny)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535894)

for the quality tests read the entire review,

Come on! Are we now suddenly supposed to actually read those frickin' articles? Just tell me who won. This is the internet and my attention span ... wait, what's that shiny thing? ...

Re:Come on! (1)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536162)

That's the problem, nobody won. It was a 3-way tie, and a blue ribbon of participation to the 4th contestant.

I hate three way ties. Declare a WINNER and a LOSER, dang it!

Ooo shiny thing! What were we talking about?

Xvid rules the scene (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535895)

You only need to look at the scene to know what codec is in this month. It's Xvid by a long margin, most TV-shows (Stargate, Enterprise, whatever), DVD-rips, Anime etc. are encoded with it. MP3 and AC3 are predictably dominating the sound codec, with many TV-shows now also making the transition to full AC3 (well, the DVD rips of them at least).

Ogg Vorbis audio (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535941)

Vorbis is becoming extremely popular, especially for instances when you want 5.1 sound and a low bitrate (it easily outperforms AC3).

Stupid test (4, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535896)

Test of some scenes from copyrighted movies? What're the results for? What format is best downloaded off of Kazaa?

And the samples are all live action.. Test encoding some hand drawn animation (ie; an old bugs bunny), a computer generated animation, a anime style animation, a dialogue type scene, a live action scene with a lot of action, black and white vs color, etc, etc.

The types of images on screen greatly affect the performance of different algorithms.

Plus, each codec has about a million tweaks and optimizations for different types of footage.

I doubt highly that there's one clear "winner". It's really not that simple.

Which is why I hate sites like ExtremeTech that always have to boil it down to "this product is the best, the rest suck!".

Like the ATI vs nVidia flamewars. ATI may benchmark faster, yet nVidia has effects in games ATI lacks. There is no clear "this one is the best". Or Intel vs AMD or Linux vs Windows, etc, etc..

Nothing in the realm of computer science is that simple.

Re:Stupid test (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536078)

Perhaps you read the article, but they DO state that there are MANY codecs out there, but they chose four of the most popular ones. They do acknowledge that the movies they chose aren't necessarily what everyone would want to compress, but that they, again, are representative of a huge proportion of movies, and encompass action, slow scenes, and wide contrast/hue ranges. Finally, they DO NOT say "THIS codec is the best, and the others suck."

I am not thoroughly familiar w/ ExtremeTech's reviews, and what you say may apply to a lot of them. But in this case, you've misapplied your disappointment with the site.

Re:Stupid test (1)

FuzzyBad-Mofo (184327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536089)

Nothing in the realm of computer science is that simple.

Except for EMACS vs vi of course. Vi is clearly the superior text editor, while EMACS is the superior operating environment.

Oh, wait..

Fair and yet unfair comparison (5, Insightful)

ebrandsberg (75344) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535920)

Unfortunately, due to the fact that the source was itself the result of mpeg encoding, it could unfairly impact the ability of the various codecs to handle the content. On the flip side, much of the content people are encoding is actually decoded content, i.e. from a digital camcorder, etc.

What would be interesting is taking the original raw film footage (that hasn't been digitally compressed with a lossy method) and encoding, then comparing the results.

transcoding (1)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536098)

Exactly! You wouldn't test OGG vs. WMV vs AAC with a source of already-compressed MP3, so why do it with videos? Unless people are using their existing video clips, this isn't a good test... and if people are using their video clips, then they should be testing a variety of source (example: my camera produces quicktime clips, not MPEG).

To see is to believe... (0)

iamwill (701094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535931)

Where can I download the movies?

On2 VP4 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8535939)

As sad as it sounds, I'm not surprised that XviD was left out. After all, alot of these reviewers pay attentions to what is being *marketted*. But I am surprised that On2 [] failed to get their VP4 Personal Codec [] noticed by this reviewer. I guess On2's marketting group dropped the ball when it came to make ExtremeTech aware of it's offerings.

Re:On2 VP4 (1)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535986)

ExtremeTech is not your truly commercial site. A lot of their stuff is written by volunteers who put in time and effort to get published. I am not exactly sure about this author, he might work for PC Mag, which owns ExtremeTech, but generally the site is quite unbiased.

What really matters. (3, Interesting)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535957)

Ok. encoding speed is somewhat important to a few people and bitrate is pretty important to most people but, quality is the most important to almost everyone. From a quality standpoint DivX is the clear winner. But, it still isn't broadcast quality let alone DVD quality.

What were they thinking? (4, Insightful)

NaugaHunter (639364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535978)

Aren't there any 'Stock-footage' type DVD's out there that include a license to redistribute they could have used? Or couldn't they at least have tried to get permission for the clips they used?

While they might not have want to try to argue fair use through education or reviewing, they could have found at least one clip they could distribute. Hell, rent a high end digital camera and make one. Tape traffic on a highway, both daytime and nighttime, and you've got a motion video test, or a fountain, or anything.

I can just imagine... (1)

InvaderSkooge (615857) | more than 10 years ago | (#8535996)

I'm not quite sure how, but I have an image of divx in a WWI-era helmet, holded up in a trench as bombs explode around it in big pixelated blocks and firing at a giant blue Quicktime logo. War is hell.

What? (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536001)

No RealPlayer?

No VBR in tests? (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536004)

Though we have certainly examined these four video codecs extensively, this article can by no means be considered the be-all, end-all on their relative merits. There are dozens of parameters and options when it comes to encoding video and, as thorough as we have been, there is much left unexplored. Variable bitrate and dual-pass encoding, for example, are common and useful features we didn't cover here - unfortunately, they're not entirely available in QuickTime 6.5 Pro for Sorenson3 or MPEG-4 encoding.

They didn't use VBR? VBR isn't "entirely" available for quicktime? Does this mean that they didn't want to buy the Sorenson 3 Pro codec?

Also, it seems that they didn't take advantage of various tweaks one can use to improve encoding quality. Maybe your garden variety consumer won't want to tweak encoding parameters for best quality/lowest bitrate, but this review is useless for me.

My preferred application for encoding is Sorenson Squeeze. I don't always have time for extensive tweaking, and Squeeze gives me great results whatever codec I am using. I find I am using this more and more and Cleaner less and less.

Give it some time (3, Interesting)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536006)

Count me in as surprised at how poorly Apple's MPEG-4 implementation did. However, as a very new codec I expect it will improve in time. Or Apple will simply license someone else's codec.

Regardless, Apple has been one of the biggest supporters of MPEG-4, and I thank them for that.

What I want to know... (2, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536025) which codec is best for encoding pr0n???

So.... (1)

lpangelrob2 (721920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536039)

...I guess it's hard to bash Microsoft as not innovating when their codec consistently looks better in the frames.

:-) Fire away!!! (watches as karma goes down in flames for today...)

Terrible reporting - used wrong programs to encode (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536048)

Quicktime is not a format, it is an architecture.

Extremetech REALLY blew it.... even in the apple world quicktime pro is known to be a poor ENCODER. The architecture is not the problem, it is the programs... Those beauitiful trailers that are highly compressed are Qicktime, but they are encode3d in Sorenson 3 using another program... It's called "Cleaner" by CreativeMac...

Extremetech REALLY REALLY blew it... I have never had such bad results when i used quicktime pro, (before i asked around how come I couldnt get the amazing detail of the trailers and was told that they're done in Cleaner)....

again, WMA is a codec, Quicktime is an architecture (thus, useing the Sorenson 3 codec), I am firing off a letter to them for incompetence...

Re:Terrible reporting - used wrong programs to enc (2, Interesting)

repetty (260322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536155)

I've read -- on Apple's web site a year ago, incidentally -- that they don't use just one codec when producing the beautiful movie trailers on their web site.

Several codecs may be used to produce a single movie trailer, with different codecs being employed where their relative strengths are required: low motion versus action versus bright scenes versus dark scenes.

These guys are WAY more sophisticated in their technique than any home user will ever be.

Lesson: Admire Apple's movie trailers but don't think you're going to reproduce their quality.


C'mon (1)

k3vmo (620362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536052)

I'd just once like to see ExtremeTech test a series of products that didn't include Microsoft. There are a lot of codecs that perform well that could have been tested in place of WmP9.

Reality (2, Insightful)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536174)

The reality of life is that WMV9 is one of the most, if not the most, used codecs around. Therefore it would have been poor testing and irresponsible reporting to have excluded it from the test.

What you suggest would be like a round up of office suites that tested Open Office, WordPerfect, Star Office and KDE Office but, didn't include Microsoft Office. You can't do that and expect to taken seriously.

On the other hand, their result was that WMV9 was the overall winner. My testing is based on what is most important to me. Quality. From a quality perspective I felt that DivX was the clear winner. Of the examples they gave, DivX was clearer and retained more detail than WMV9 in all but a very few cases.

Doom9's Comparison (4, Informative)

kylethemile (149934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536053)

Well, seeing how bad [] ET's iTunes Bad, WMA Good [] article was, I figure Doom9's codec comparison [] is better than this.

And yes, Doom9's comparison includes XViD.

Time (1)

The Happy Camper (750782) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536059)

Time is a factor, but a small one for me. Quality is the most important and size is a close second. Editing a video takes many hours. Using a faster encoder just because it is faster may compromise my work.

Sorry (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536061)

Sorry, but any "test" where there's no scientific definition of what an "artifact" is, nor any mathematical definition of "image quality," is total bull. Yes, it's important to include subjective experience in the criteria, but we also need hard numbers. Where are the hard numbers on luminance distortion? Chrominance distortion? How many bits per pixel do you pay for each decibel of noise reduction? What's the worst case performance (no correlation between frames)? Best case performance (no difference between frames)?

I'm sorry, but some hand-waving, subjective "Hey, this thing kinda looks better than that thing" is not a test. Calling it a "War of the Codecs" is even more ridiculous.

How did they managed to avoid breaking the DMCA ? (1)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536104)

"For our source material, we turned to DVD movies"

I can imagine the SWAT teams breaking inside extremetech's office: "FREEZEEEE, where's the illegal copy protection circumventing device ?"

Apple Rulez, Linux and Windows DROOLZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536105)

All the non-QuickTime solutions SUCK compared to Apple's QuickTime (Apple being the brilliant architects of Apple Mac OS X! []

Mac OS X [] is a rock-solid open-source operating system, the most modern OS in the world! I'm so excited!!!

From the Apple Mac OS X Page [] :

Mac OS X has evolved. The fourth major release in just three years, Panther offers breakthroughs in innovation, ease of use and reliability that won't be seen in other operating systems for years, if ever.

If you're one of the millions of Mac owners, you'll love the powerful refinements to your system. Or as a user of a Windows- or UNIX-based system, you'll find mouth-watering incentives to switch to a Mac as your main computer.

The world's most elegant user interface just got easier. ... up to six times faster than Jaguar, but you'll probably think Panther's done almost before you stop typing. It's just that fast. Compare that to finding files on a Windows-based machine and, well, there's simply no comparison.

Panther introduces the most revolutionary advance in productivity for a desktop windowing system in years. It's called Expose. With advanced virtual and protected memory, Mac OS X lets you have scads of applications open at the same time without fearing data loss in other apps if an unruly program crashes. And with several documents open per application, you could end up with dozens of open windows.

Of course you can still text message with anyone on the AIM and .Mac networks. Use iSight to set your buddy picture. The superior graphics capabilities of Mac OS X enable innovative applications previously imagined only in science fiction.

You can do just about anything with Panther.

Apple's new default browser offers pop-up blocking and built-in Google searching.

And to make type management more manageable, Panther introduces a new application, Font Book, which lets you preview and install fonts with just one click. Or locate any font on your system with the search function. You can activate fonts individually or create sets to make them available in groups.

Fast User Switching makes it even easier to share your system with other people. You can let them log into your Mac without quitting any of your applications.

Because it's built on Open Source standards, Mac OS X provides you with time-tested security and reliability not available on proprietary systems.

Only with Mac OS X can you run Microsoft Office, Quark XPress and Adobe Photoshop, browse a Windows network and use Unix commands -- at the same time. Visit an Apple store or reseller near you to see for yourself. You'll find Panther easy to install, easy to learn and hard to remember what you did without it.


Re:Apple Rulez, Linux and Windows DROOLZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536180)

wow, this makes...sense....because the test results showed quicktime was worse than wmv9 and divx, yet you say otherwise...and then you copy and paste from apple and say its better by bolding things...please try to stick to some sort of fact (or at least stay on topic, which in this case is video codec comparrison) instead of trying to start an apple/everyone else flame war.

mod dowN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536114)

are just way ovEr

Ugly Artifacting Blockiness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536117)

Or, how to re-encode your DVDs to make them look just like Comcast Digital Cable!

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8536137)

i find it rather humorous that the only results mentioned on the front page are the results that say Quicktime (and thus Apple) won a certain test (speed). Why didn't they mention that quicktimes mpeg-4 lost horribly, and then say 'to see who won, check the site' or something. oh yea, thats right, it's slashdot, they don't like mentioning when something apple does is bad...

Indeo? What the fuck? (4, Informative)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536143)

We therefore took the uncompressed clips and created new "master clips" by encoding them to very high bitrate (around 8 megabit) files using Indeo 5.1 compression, as all our test applications could easily read this format.
Indeo? INDEO!??!? Yes, I know if you make every frame a keyframe or whatever, maybe it would look almost decent. But seriously - why not use a JPEG series or something instead? I'm sure both QuickTime and VDub can handle that. In fact, if you had bothered to discover VirtaulDubMod [] and the QuickTime MPEG-2 playback component [] , you could have just plugged in the MPEG-2 streams directly.


I call shenanigans (5, Interesting)

awaspaas (663879) | more than 10 years ago | (#8536167)

Okay, I just encoded some DVD-size video at 1mbit and 500kbit, 1/4 size, in QuickTime MPEG-4 and can barely see any artifacts in either. This dude seriously got some settings wrong in his MPEG-4 encodings, although I don't quite see how that's possible as settings are quality, framerate, keyframes, and data rate (and he said quality was set at best). I'll post some screenies later if I get a chance.
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