Digital Video updated 030109 and an update on Audio 030205   

The purpose of this page is mainly for my own understanding. The structure is preliminary and will change.
The picture is rather complicated. Lots of development going, lots of opinions and lots of very good pages. So the update of this page rest for a while. I am in no hurry. 

DV and Interlace

35 mm movies are usually scanned at 4096 horizontal pixels (called "4K") at 24 frames/sec.

A TV picture is built up by lines in two scans. Each scan is called a field. Two fields is a frame.In the first pass line 1,3,5,7 etc and in the other line 2,4,6,8 etc are scanned. This is called interlacing. PAL's resolution is 625 horizontal lines, but only 576 of these are used for the picture. PAL's vertical frequency is 50 Hz producing 25 frames/sec. The TV picture quality is usually measured in how many lines you can se. On a good TV you can see up to 400 lines. VHS is up to 250 lines. A DVD up to 540 lines but the TV set don't handle it.

With full PAL resolution 768*576 (= 442 368 pixels), a framerate of 25 frames/s and 24 bits to record uncompressed RGB (8 bits each för red, green and blue) we end up with 265 421 000 bits = 33 177 000 bytes / 1024 = 32 400 KB / 1024 = 31, 6 MB. 31,6 MB/sec takes a lot of room on a harddisk. We have to compress.

The technique of converting movies 24 frames/s to the TV's 25 frames is called Telecine. I will not go in to that except for the practical considerations. What are they?
Then we also have progressive images. That is a frame that is not interlaced.

Video Compression (codec's)

Codec's are identified by a FOURCC (Four Character Code). See is a means to identify a video data stream format. This is NOT file extensions or Internet Media (MIME) types.

Resolution for the PAL system:
MPEG: variety of frame-sizes, frame-rates, and data-rates. MPEG stores only certain complete frames (keyframes) and the difference between the frames. It is more to this. Will maybe came later.
DVD  at least 768*576 pixels. (DVD Quality)
MPEG-2 on CD: SVCD (Super VCD) at least 480*576 pixels. (S-VHS Quality). max 2600 kbps VBR.
MPEG-1: VCD (video CD) at least 352*288 pixels. CBR. (nearly VHS Quality)

Fixed rate of 3.5 MB/sec. DV (and M-JPEG) stores each frame as a complete image. DV is stored in avi-files of type 1 or type 2. Type 1 stores video and audio in one data stream. Type 2 separates video and audio in two data streams.
M-JPEG: For Hi8 and SVHS quality, 3 MB/sec or more. For VHS 1 MB/sec. A good format for editing.

MPEG-4: This is NOT straightforward! There are many "versions"
Robert Batchelder, Gartner Analyst: "There's no question that MPEG-4 is going to succeed MPEG-2 as the standard for streaming digital video."

MPEG-4 is an ISO standard but many proprietary solutions exists. About standardization, see MPEG-4 Industry Forum,, MPEG’s home page, and Internet Streaming Media Alliance,
One good article on MPEG-4,
MPEG4IP is the Open Source project. You can download the MPEG4IP package to get practical experience.

Microsoft's version of MPEG-4 v1/2/3 and DivX are proprietary solutions that offer similar performance, but MPEG-4 has the advantage of being an industry standard.
Microsoft has now renamed its format to "Windows Media Format"
See about the format not being a standard.

DivX is a hack that lets the MS MPEG-4 v3 codec be used inside an AVI file. It's often linked with the DVD ripping subculture and often referred to as MPEG-4, which it is not.

OpenDivX: The OpenDivX code is based on the MPEG-4 video standard. Project Mayo owns the copyrights to the code. Project Mayo is a company created by the DivX project founders.

XviD is an ISO MPEG-4 compliant video codec. See also on how to do

H.264, also known as JVT/AVC, claims that it can deliver DVD-quality broadcasts over the Internet using considerably less network resources than rivals.
Recommendation H.264 of the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union (ITU), won't be ready for public consumption until March--three months behind schedule.
While the ITU refers to the codec as Recommendation H.264, ISO calls it ISO/IEC 14496 10 Advanced Video Coding (AVC).
The latest audio portion of the standard, called AAC, is the equivalent of MP3. The MPEG-4 organization will hold a final vote in March on whether to make AACPlus part of the evolving audio standard.

Will the MPEG-4 standard be a standard? We will see. The content will drive.
..or the widespread popularity of media players from Microsoft and RealNetworks contribute to the decision to choose these technologies.

A few MPEG-4 products

RealNetworks announced support for the MPEG-4 standard in its latest release.

EnvivioTV - has a MPEG-4 player for Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, and QuickTime Player. EnvivioTV is available as a plug-in for Apple QuickTime v 4.1.2 or higher, the RealNetworks player v 7.0 or higher, and Windows Media Player v 6.4 or higher. has a ISO MPEG-4 codec, player. plug-in, etc Read news article on  has a single-chip DVD decoder with MPEG-4, MP3 and WMA playback and a free Software Encoder and Decoder for ISO MPEG-4 Video.

I skip au, aiff and several others.
What is the best audio codec with respect to quality? See test at 

WAVE PCM format
The WAVE file format is a subset of Microsoft's RIFF specification. MS-Wave format is the standard in the PC digital-audio world and uses uncompressed pulse code modulation (PCM). Is used in the Audio CD.

(Advanced Audio Coding) and BC (Backward Compatible)
MPEG-2 audio exists in two standards MPEG-2 BC (ISO/IEC 13818-3) and MPEG-2 AAC (ISO/IEC 13818-7). The official audio codec for MPEG-4 is also AAC.
MPEG-4 AAC is the official audio codec for MPEG-4 and is an enhancement to MPEG-2 AAC. See or  For free MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AAC codecs see 
MPEG4 CELP for coding speech at the lowest bit-rates (e.g. < 14 kb/s).

AC-3 (Dolby Digital, 5.1 format)
AC-3 is a high-quality, low-complexity multichannel audio coder. See 

The Mp3 format (MPEG-1 layer 3) is well known, so I leave it with that.

MP3Pro from Coding Technologies. They have created MP3Pro which encodes wavefiles at 64 kbps with the same quality as MP3 at 96-128 kbps. MP3Pro can be played in a mp3 player.

Coding Technologies have also created aacPlus(tm) to provide excellent quality stereo audio programming at 48Kbps. aacPlus is the combination of MPEG AAC and Coding Technologies' SBR (Spectral Band Replication) technology. SBR is a bandwidth extension technique, which enables audio codecs to deliver the same quality at half the bit rate. An interesting example of this is "Digital Radio Mondiale"

Ogg Vorbis

The Ogg Vorbis format is an open-source alternative to the MP3 format from the Xiph Foundation. Ogg Vorbis creators are hoping their technology's size and quality puts it on par with software such as MPEG-4 Ogg Vorbis is a fully Open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general-purpose compressed audio format,  
One opinion: "An Ogg file is10 times smaller then mp3 and the quality is much better....". True?

File formats
File formats are like the envelope around several audio, video and subtitle streams. Maybe the most common format is AVI (Audio-Video Interleave). AVI files are limited to 4 GB in FAT32 or to 2GB if OpenDML not is supported.
Other formats are ASF (Advanced Streaming Format), MOV (Quicktime), RM (RealMedia), MP4 (MPEG-4 container), and MPEG (MPEG-1/2 container). One of the main problems of AVI is that you can't stream it over internet connections. That's why ASF was invented.

Some formats is only suitable for delivering (MPEG- 4, AMR, MPEG-1, MP3, Real/WinMedia, etc) and some is also suitable for authoring (AAC, MPEG-2, MJPEG, etc). ITU-T601 just for authoring.

There exist an open Audio/Video container format, MCF (Media Capsuline Format) as the open source alternative to existing containers. Se the MCF Specifications (in deep) at 

Se also AVI, Ogg and MCF - A Comparison of different Multimedia Container Formats.  

MIME types
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) is a standard for describing different types of information and allow file exchange. There need to be an application associated with each file type in both Web browsers and Web servers when streaming video/audio.

MIME Media Types :  or
MIME Type Settings for Windows Media Services:
Streaming from a Web Server: 
QuickTime Streaming: 
Example of Supported MIME Types from an ISP:

A few links

It is unlikely that any video technology will be created any time soon that is wholly 'free' Lots of video tools! mainly DivX SW   news etc Streaming news, forums

Internet Video Magazine,

(old) Codec Comparisons:,3973,53956,00.asp

the Sigma codec and Xvid

See and a simpler