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MPEG-4, my rant

Does anyone know of any metrics which demonstrate that MPEG-4
compression has any true compression advantage over MPEG-2?

Personally, I doubt it.  Here's why:

1. Apart from MPEG-4, part 10, MPEG-4 does not specify bidirectional
prediction (B frames).  This where most compression gain is obtained.
MPEG-4 is block coding - just like MPEG-2, with additionaly
granularity.  More granulatrity while allowing for less error residue,
also leads to more difficult search algorithms and possibly more motion
vectors.

2. MPEG-4 part 10 is not widely implemented by set top box manufacturers
(if at all, I've not seen any silicon which implements part 10
decoding).

3. MPEG-4 is not widely supported by video encoder manufacturers.  They
only give lip-service to MPEG-4 as a marketing placeholder:  "We'll
provide it if you order it".

4. The pending H.264 standard, a very good synopsis here:
http://www.eetimes.com/story/OEG20020920S0049

5. MPEG-4 licensing model - per hour, per stream.  This is an open ended
model which will is anatehma to broadcasters.  Forget it.  Microsoft
recently announced better licensing terms for Windows Media which
undercut the MPEG-4 terms.  MPEG-4 licensing was finalized in September,
but unless you're a member of the MPEG-4 working group, you'll have to
go digging for it. http://www.mpegla.com/news/n_02-07-15_m4v.html

So, this presents an interesting dilemna:

Broadcasters are reluctant to order new equipment due to an "enhanced"
licensing model.  Additionally, in private, encoder manufacturers tell
their customers to wait for H.264 which will solidify encoder gains
along with hopes for better licensing terms.  Meanwhile, one the web,
MSFT and Realnetworks undercut the MPEG-4 standard with their own
turnkey solutions.

I'd say MPEG-4 is a orphan child wandering the streets looking for a
home.  You'd like to have pity on him, but if you get close, he'll pick
your pocket.

Nat Ersoz
Monday, January 27, 2003

Out of curiousity, how does MPEG4 relate to DivX? I've always thought of DivX as a sort of unofficial MPEG4. Anyone care to correct me? The reason I ask is that DivX is certainly being used rather a lot, and the first hardware DivX player came out a while ago.

Anon
Monday, January 27, 2003

Xiph.org (the guys that bring us Vorbis) are working on a video codec. Perhaps you'll like it better.

Ori Berger
Monday, January 27, 2003

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