Codec confusion

Lately I’ve been exploring new codecs after being an Xvid (MPEG-4 video compressor) fan for quite a few years. I found a codec utility called ffdshow that has a wide choice of compressors including H.264, which I’ve seen referred to a lot lately. So I tried it out, specifying it in Virtual Dub (where I usually mux my video and audio tracks), and like the results a bit better than Xvid at comparable compression ratios. There are a lot of settings available via ffdshow for configuring H.264.

Trying out FFmpeg muxing in Blender, I’m able to spec the H.264 codec but can’t seem to find any way to configure it as with ffdshow, and the output is vastly poorer with quite visible compression artifacts – I can’t seem to set the Quality in Blender using FFmpeg. There are apparently no audio codec settings, either – I can spec the MP3 codec but not any of its specifics the way I can in Virtual Dub.

So what’s the deal here? I assume that the codecs being used by the various utilities are the same if they carry the same label, i.e., H.264 in Virtual Dub with ffdshow is the same codec as H.264 used in Blender with FFmpeg. Or is this not the case? Is there some way to get Blender to recognize the ffdshow utility? I’m not insisting on an all-Blender workflow but it does offers some conveniences when editing both audio and video in the VSE.

Hi chipmasque :slight_smile:

Hitting the menu button in the FFMpeg encoder dialogue on the Video Tab in blender gives masses of options.

Personally I like the X264 project by VideoLan guys which FFMpeg & ffdshow includes in it’s package, so should be available.

I’m also using HCEnc (Freeware) for mpeg2 which gives far superior results to FFMpeg defaults but that is an unfair comparison.

Otherwise what about frameserving out of blender?

The Video tab! <slaps forehead with palm> I knew that! Gettin’ old sux :smiley: Thx.

But jeezum crow, I thought the ffdshow H.264 options were arcane — the FFmpeg Preset for H.264 looks like Martian to me – actually, I think I grok Martian better :wink:

I’m not a videogeek, so I look for settings like “Quality” (easy enuff to unnerstan’ that one!). I tell ya, yellow, if you could make plain-English sense of the Presets lists Blender presents it’d be of great help, wiki-worthy for sure. I do like to make at least semi-intelligent choices on such things but I’d prefer not having to have a Master’s Degree in Video Tech to do so.

I have found that the H264 codec is only properly implemented by Apple. Every time I try to render to H264 without quicktime, I get a video that does not play correctly. Even After Effects rendering to a MOV using H264 does not make a file that looks as good as what Quicktime pro can output.

I realize you may not have After Effects for compositing, but Quicktime Pro is certainly worth having for making reliable final movies.

When I try to make AVI files using the H264 codec, I get media player errors telling me that the codec is not installed. WTF I just created it on the same machine.

I don’t waste time on any other codecs. I only use Quicktime. I render to image sequences out of Blender because I have yet to produce a video file that will actually play out of Blender. It’s quicktime support is worthless on Windows. I had some success with Quicktime output on a Mac, however. It is such a waste of time to render into a video format because if something goes wrong, you lose all that render time. With an image sequence, you still have your lossless source and can try another codec without waiting for another long arse render.

I’ve had no probs using Blender to output QT movies using H.264 or other codecs, though for the most part I only use it for “playblast” renders, as there seems to be some QT settings issue (gamma defaults?) that makes the playback images much flatter in contrast and slightly brighter – not a pleasant change, but it may be only due to QT display settings rather than codec treatment, since it is the same for all available QT codecs.

I’ve had a few issues with playing H.264 .avi movies, also – I think it boils down to how various players recognize and use codecs. QT may have a “dedicated” H.264 codec that isn’t necessarily shared by other players and apps for .avi playback. When I installed ffdshow, my Windozer became “H.264-aware” for .avi movies as well. But another machine I have can’t deal with an H.264-encoded .avi, even though it has QT, because I haven’t yet installed ffdshow on that box.

H.264 isn’t really a “codec” in the strictest sense in that it is not a specific piece of encoding/decoding software, but rather a standard (similar to the MPEGs) that can be implemented in various ways via specific software. It’s which specific piece of software you have available for a player app that determines the playability of any encoded movie. So “H.264” deosn’t necessarily cover encoding/decoding for both .mov and .avi formats – an H.264 codec can be written to deal with only a subset of all possible formats.

At least that’s how I’m starting to understand the situation.

Never had problems with QT h264 output in blender.Neither in after effects by the way. i use QT a lot with animation codec and then import it in after effects. No probs so far…

I am having the same issue at the moment, I can’t get h264 to work muxing nor qt or avi. But Xvid will. There seems to be a quality hit but I cant tell?

Does the OSA and filters affect the Sequencer output? Doesnt seem to.

FWIW mov h264 render in Blender messes with the gamma so that if you try to make a sequence of a sequenced mov h264 from Blender it gets more washed out with each pass. THis doesn’t happen using avi 264, Its in the bug tracker.

Part of the problem is trying to anticipate how crappy the recompression from utub vimeo and veoh will look. Can’t really upload totaly uncomressed stuff due to file size limits so its really a crap shoot. Many tuts are unuseable because of the poor resolution. sublte compositing effects often just disappear. Sigh, anyone have suggestions?