Understanding Video Compression Techniques

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Need for Video Compression

Communication plays a very pivotal role in today’s fast paced world. Advanced techniques assist in information exchange; Internet teleconferencing, High Definition Television (HDTV), satellite communications and digital storage of movies would not be feasible without a high degree of compression. As high amounts of data are transferred through wired and wireless media, compression of audio and video has become a necessity, in order to utilize the available resources effectively without compromising on quality.

Lossy vs Lossless Video Compression

The following video compression techniques are considered lossy, as some kind of data loss is associated with these techniques, and the entire input bit-stream can’t be reproduced after compression.

  • Motion JPEG
  • H.261
  • H.263
  • H.264
  • Ogg Theora
  • VC-1
  • MNG (supports JPEG sprites)
  • Dirac
  • MPEG-1 Part 2
  • MPEG-2 Part 2
  • MPEG-4 Part 2 and Part 10 (AVC)
  • Sorenson video codec

On the other hand, the lossless video compression techniques are preferred when no loss of data whatsoever is really acceptable. The popular lossless video compression techniques are listed below:

  • CorePNG
  • Animation codec
  • Dirac – (it has mode lossless and lossy modes)
  • Huffyuv
  • Lagarith
  • JPEG 2000
  • SheerVideo
  • MSU Lossless Video Codec
  • FFV1

Which is the Best Video Compression Format?

Well, it is a really tough call to name a particular video compression technique to be the best of the lot, as various formats offer good results depending upon considerations such as the purpose of video compression (i.e. DVD ripping, web transfer, etc.), size of input file, and the video quality. Most of the internet users prefer MPEG-4 as it gives best quality for the smallest file size on most occasions.

Taking a look at the most popular video compression formats, Sorenson 3, DivX, and MPEG-4, XviD, and 3ivx are the pick of the lot. However, the individual choices may vary depending upon the operating system that you use; for instance MP4 is built into QuickTime player, and Mac users prefer DivX, and Xvid as they don’t have to struggle to use these formats. There are freeware XviD encoders on the Mac, and ffmpeg supports it quite well. On the other hand, Windows users prefer the MPG4 format as the Windows Media Player, and the popular VLC player are built around it.

With the advent of numerous new video compression formats like Matroska, which provide excellent quality at lower bitrates, internet video compression techniques have become a lot more sophisticated, and latest formats like new pixlet compression are being used on a larger scale.

Pixlet rocks for quality, but on a side note, you should be willing to sacrifice on the processor power. Pixlet is a lossless video compression format; however, it hasn’t been too appealing to the common user, as the compressed files are also quite bulky.

The continuous speeding up of internet connections, thanks to the hopes given by grid computing, evolution of video compression techniques promises to take place at a rapid pace. There could be many more video compression techniques coming your way, which are under development at the moment.

You may also want to take a look at the Best Freeware Video Compression Programs Here