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AndrVlad says

Felt, I can’t agree that photo jpeg is low-light compression while h.264 have heavy artifacts. It depend on bitrate if we compare it in real life.

For same output file size – h.264 most cases will have better results and in fact less compression and less artifacts. Even 2x filesize for photo jpeg many cases will have worst quality then h.264.

This is because of intraframe and interframe difference as you said and compression efficiency. :-)

Best Regartds, Andrey

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modeon says

If footage is shot in h.264 then you certainly don’t “add” quality to it by compressing as ProRes or PJPEG. However, if you are going to do something to your footage – for instance a colour correction – and then save off into another format, then by using h.264, you are effectively applying two rounds of very heavy compression to your footage. If you were to use Prores or PJPEG, you will have used the first initial h.264 out of the camera, followed by a very light compression. The artefacts from the first round of compression (saved by the camera) will always be there, but by using PJPEG or ProRes, you will be avoiding a second round of heavy h.264 artefacts.

You could liken it to making a recording of an old vinyl record. However you record it, you will have the crackle of the vinyl and the scratch of the needle, but if you imagine recording the output of the record through a cable to an uncompressed digital format – you will have a high-fidelity copy of the record, including all its scratches. If you record the same using a cheap microphone held up to the speaker, then you will have a low-fidelity copy and you will add a layer of audio-mud to the recording of the crackly record. Same principle. It’s all about generational loss.

The best way to judge for video is by eye on a clip by clip basis. Ultimately, experience and a little experimentation is usually the way to go. Important to understand is also roughly how various codecs work. Crucially, h.264 is an inter-frame codec, whereas ProRes and PJPEG are intra-frame codecs. Understanding the differences between these two will go some way to making it clear to you which to use and when.

wow : )

it was really clear.

thank you so much

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felt_tips Moderator says

Felt, I can’t agree that photo jpeg is low-light compression while h.264 have heavy artifacts. It depend on bitrate if we compare it in real life.

For same output file size – h.264 most cases will have better results and in fact less compression and less artifacts. Even 2x filesize for photo jpeg many cases will have worst quality then h.264.

This is because of intraframe and interframe difference as you said and compression efficiency. :-)

Best Regartds, Andrey

You have a point. h.264 is the far more efficient codec, without doubt.

But I’m talking about PJPEG at or close to 100% quality, at which point, although it’s a lossy codec, it will become visually indistinguishable from the original, to most casual observers, even when compared side by side and frame by frame. And yes… it will produce a MUCH bigger file.

The same can’t be said of h.264. No matter how high you turn the quality up, there are always clearly visible compression artefacts. It’s astonishing how much data h.264 can get rid of and still produce a watchable picture, but it always produces a noticeable quality drop.

That’s why in professional video, JPEG based codecs are generally considered acceptable (REDcode, for instance is based on JPEG 2000, IIRC) and h.264 isn’t – other than as an end format for internet playback. That said, material from h.264 and mpeg based cameras is definitely finding its way into broadcast media these days.

But put it this way… if a post-production person started using h.264 instead of ProRes as an intermediate format, they’d be sacked! :-)

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AndrVlad says

Felt, per my experiments if I remember correctly PJPEG with 99% quality produce about 2x size vs. H.264 and visual quality about the same. PJPEG with 100% quality I don’t remember exactly but kind of 6x (like 2GB per minute). And not much visual difference even comparing frame by frame. Of course it depend on content. If content is partially static (like most footage) then H.264 efficient, if a lot of full screen changes then yes H.264 may have mor visible artifacts. Anyway 2GB per minute is huge for stock footage and not so many PJPEG footage here with such bitrate.

So I agree if to compress with q100 pjpeg better for all content. Otherwise I think optimum quality/size is H.264.

It’s interessting discussion and it’s repeating from time to time. I will try to find time to do few footage encodings and post full-hd screen shots to some kind of blind test. :-)

Best Regards, Andrey

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felt_tips Moderator says

Felt, per my experiments if I remember correctly PJPEG with 99% quality produce about 2x size vs. H.264 and visual quality about the same. PJPEG with 100% quality I don’t remember exactly but kind of 6x (like 2GB per minute). And not much visual difference even comparing frame by frame. Of course it depend on content. If content is partially static (like most footage) then H.264 efficient, if a lot of full screen changes then yes H.264 may have mor visible artifacts. Anyway 2GB per minute is huge for stock footage and not so many PJPEG footage here with such bitrate.

So I agree if to compress with q100 pjpeg better for all content. Otherwise I think optimum quality/size is H.264.

It’s interessting discussion and it’s repeating from time to time. I will try to find time to do few footage encodings and post full-hd screen shots to some kind of blind test. :-)

Best Regards, Andrey

Like, I say, to the casual observer with naturally shot footage, h.264 can look good for its data-rate and for me, it’s a very impressive codec, with little else in its league. But you’re right – I’m talking in absolutes here. Compared to its lightly compressed brethren, h.264 is visually muddy and swimmy, the chroma blocks are huge and update intermittently. In shots that contain little movement for instance, you’ll often quite clearly see the jump as the pixels update. What’s more, h.264 is terrible at dealing with unsteady lighting conditions – flickering flames for instance. There it becomes an absolute festival of banding. And for any very clean digital gradients, you can forget h.264 completely. Where the real lack of quality in h.264 becomes apparent though is in the post-production process. Putting a strong grade on footage will often make the hidden quality lack visible. And pulling a chroma key on an h.264 shot blue-screen for example is an absolute nightmare. The chroma resolution is so low, that you’ll rarely be able to get a good key.

I do understand your point, but just to be completely clear. While h.264 provides an excellent quality to data-rate ratio (better than most other codecs all told), if you put all issues of data size aside and talk about image quality at an absolute level, the best quality possible with h.264 compression simply doesn’t come anywhere near to the best quality possible with ProRes or PJPEG. The latter codecs are in a completely different league.

In high end broadcast (i.e. commercials) and feature film, they often won’t even use ProRes or PJPEG (although most digital cameras record a compressed image). There they’ll often use 4K 32bit dpx sequences as an intermediate format, which retains all original information at very high bit depth, with no generational loss. The cost? 1GB per second :)

From the point of view of $5 stock though – I guess you need to weigh up all factors. And I guess in many instances that h.264 will provide the optimal solution.

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WebRa says

If video H.264 shot with the camera doesn’t demand correction, use the H.264 format

If video demands correction, you look by result – or H.264 or Photo Jpeg :)

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modeon says

If video H.264 shot with the camera doesn’t demand correction, use the H.264 format If video demands correction, you look by result – or H.264 or Photo Jpeg :)

I think so after the comments

thank you : )

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urbazon says

Very interesting information in this topic. Thanks to everybody for some clarification :)

In my case, I’ve always used h264 so far as it seemed logical because my camera outputs video in h264. But I’ve noticed a huuuuge drop in quality and very visible noise after I tried to apply some corrections and it never crossed my mind I could encode the video in some other codec. I have to try it out.

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modeon says

Very interesting information in this topic. Thanks to everybody for some clarification :) In my case, I’ve always used h264 so far as it seemed logical because my camera outputs video in h264. But I’ve noticed a huuuuge drop in quality and very visible noise after I tried to apply some corrections and it never crossed my mind I could encode the video in some other codec. I have to try it out.

You are right. there are really important information. I will buy a new cam. I hope I will try to record new codec and better quality with lens : )

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exe says

I used to encode everything to photo J-PEG, and recently I made some tests with a sunlight video. Photo jpeg has a 8 bit per channel output so you get 24 bits max without alpha channel, and the sun ray wasn’t so gradiently smooth. Than I changed my project settings to 16 bits per channel and encoded in h.264 at max quallity at 48 bits total without alpha and the sun ray was perfect smooth and the whole video looked amazing. So I think H.264 is the best option. There is only one problem though, if I make a h.264 in .mp4 format it’s perfect, I can set a constant 60 mbs for example, but quicktime mov h.264 doens’t have an option for constant bitrate it makes it variable just like the canon camera for example. But it still is better quality than photo j-peg.

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