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One Codec to Rule Them All

Filed under: Uncategorized — emitaliablog
Posted on August 27, 2010 @ 11:35 pm
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In the beginning years of web video, you might encode Real, Windows Media, and Quicktime versions of your movie, in several sizes, so anyone visiting your site could watch, figuring everybody was bound to have at least one of those plugins.

Then a lot of people got cable modems and DSL which removed the need to provide tiny movies for dialup customers.

Flash then updated their nearly universal browser plugin to embed flv video content. Many developers migrated to Flash video, because posting one movie is easier than posting three. Flash seemed to have won, for the time being.

But then, the H.264 codec, also known as AVC, burst upon the scene, popularized by its support in Quicktime 7 starting in April 2005. It immediately blew everyone away with its amazing quality and low bitrate requirements, being able to present stunning quality HD video that started playing almost immediately (when encoded by an expert compressionist).

H.264 became the standard codec adopted by manufacturers for all kinds of devices – from camcorders from Canon and Panasonic to Apple iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs, Sony PlayStations & PSPs, Archos TV, Microsoft Xbox 360s and Zune players, cell phones and many other devices.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Windows computer owners were buying Apple iPods, which neccesitated downloading iTunes & Quicktime, so the Quicktime browser plugin was gaining ground very quickly on Windows computers (as well as being installed on 100% of Macs).

So then, there was once again a dilemma for internet video producers; stick with Flash with wider browser support; or go with Quicktime H.264 for better quality and device compatibility? Or both?

Finally, the momentous announcement came from Adobe in August of 2007 that the ubiquitous Flash plugin would support H.264 encoded video, and even provide special hardware acceleration to make fullscreen H.264 video play more smoothly. The confusion was over. H.264 had won the codec wars, perhaps forever.

After that, the race was on to come up with the best H.264 codec and encoder. For now at least, the clear winner is the x264 variation.

To see the best x264 encoder on the planet, visit

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