Image Processing Reference
The trick is to get the maximum possible compression with the minimum loss of
quality. We will examine compression from a practical point of view, based on where your
source material originated. You will need to know how film and TV recreate images and
the fundamental differences between the two media. Then you will make optimal choices
when you set up a compression job on your system.
You don't have to fully understand the mathematics of the encoding process. This
knowledge is only vital if you are building video compression products for sale or if you
are studying the theory of compression. Some background knowledge of how an encoder
works is helpful though. In a few rare instances, some math formulas will be presented but
only when it is unavoidable.
Our main focus will be on the practical aspects of encoding video content. Once
you've read this topic, you should be able to buy off-the-shelf products and get them
working together. However, this topic is not a tutorial on how to use any particular prod-
uct. We discuss compression in a generic way so you can apply the knowledge to what-
ever tools you like to use.
This Is Not About Choosing a Particular Platform
We will discuss a variety of codecs and tools, and it is important to get beyond the mar-
keting hyperbole and see these products independently of any personal likes, dislikes, and
My personal preference is for Apple-based technologies because they allow me to
concentrate on my work instead of administering the system. I've used a lot of different
systems, and something in the design of Apple products maps intuitively to the way
I think when I'm doing creative work. You may prefer to work on Windows- or Linux-based
systems, each of which may be appropriate for particular tasks. Compression tools are
available for all of the popular operating systems.
This topic is about the philosophy and process of compression. The platform is irrel-
evant other than to facilitate your choosing a particular codec or workflow that is not sup-
ported elsewhere, although even that problem is becoming obsolete as we move forward
with portability tools and wider use of open standards.
Sometimes, lesser-known technology solutions are overlooked by the industry and
are worth considering, and I've tried to include examples. But space is limited, so please
don't take offense if I have omitted a personal favorite of yours. Do contact us if you find a
particularly useful new or existing tool that you think we should include in a later edition.
Putting the Salesmen in a Corner
You need to be armed with sufficient knowledge to cut through the sales pitch and ask
penetrating questions about the products being offered to you. Always check the specifi-
cations thoroughly before buying. If you can, check out reference installations and read
reviews before committing to a product. If this topic helps you do that and saves you from