H.264 Codec Adopted for Next-Gen HD DVDs

The DVD Forum has ratified the new H.264 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) for inclusion in the forthcoming High Definition DVD platform.

The H.264 codec, formerly known H.26L, was was developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group (responsible of course, for the various MPEG formats) and the International Telecommunication Union, and has now been ratified into the MPEG-4 codec. The codec enables a variety of video content to be compressed for transmission and decompressed for playback in a highly efficient way.

Apple has already made an announcement to the effect that H.264 will be included in a release of its QuickTime platform next year.

“Apple is firmly behind H.264 because it delivers superb quality digital video and is based on open standards that no single company controls,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing in a statement.

H.264 is intended to be used on a number of platforms, and as such covers a wide spectrum of bandwidth requirements – from HD television to mobile phones. The codec is highly efficient, and has been demonstrated playing back 1920×1080, 24fps HD movies at up to half the data rate of MPEG-2. Less data means room for more channels – or better audio and video.

Don’t expect HD playback performance on your new mobile phone – Apple’s test detailed above required a dual processor G5 to do the playback. The new codec will be more suited to digital television broadcasts to phones and mobile movies with a much lower resolution.

How H.254 works – and it’s not too technical, either

MPEG resources on the internet

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?