Image Processing Reference
Should You Choose Apple, Real Networks, or Microsoft?
Although some commentators make bold claims about one format having superior qual-
ity over another, this has to be seen in context and on the whole, the formats are roughly
equivalent. Your viewpoint as to which is best will more likely be dictated by which plat-
form you choose to encode and use for playback.
A proprietary approach is okay if you and your end users are already totally com-
mitted to a manufacturer's platform because you are not giving anything up or increasing
the lock-in. I think it's a different argument if you are trying to evangelize a new service
offering and are mandating that the client user must deploy it on a particular platform.
The new service or product should just work with what the client already has or you are
introducing an artificial barrier to acceptance, which will be reflected in your bottom line.
Why would you choose to do something that reduces the chances of a successful business
What Player Should You Choose?
On a Macintosh, there is absolutely no doubt that the very best player experience comes
from using QuickTime. On Windows, the obvious choice is Windows Media Player. On
UNIX platforms other than Mac OS X, the Real Networks media player option is the most
widely available and is the optimum choice for Linux. Oddly enough, at major exhibitions
such as IBC and NAB, I have observed that a lot of companies demonstrate their video
prowess by using a Windows desktop but then they actually show you their video clips
using a QuickTime player—at least it happens more than you would expect based on a sta-
tistical count of operating systems and the market share of QuickTime players in the con-
sumer marketplace. This suggests to me that the QuickTime player experience on
Windows is on the whole a happy experience, but you may draw other conclusions.
What Codec? There Are So Many to Choose From!
Which codec is the best? The cross-platform infrastructure and workflow benefits for the
content producer lie fairly and squarely with the MPEG standards. My personal view is
that the best codec is the one that works everywhere. On that basis, H.264 is a good choice
given the amount of industry support it is acquiring.
Windows Media Series 9 might make some headway in its contest with H.264 under
the VC-1 alias as an SMPTE standard. The VC-1 codec is a serious contender and is ini-
tially being adopted with H.264 as a requirement for next-generation DVDs.
During the latter part of 2004, the standardization process for VC-1 hit several bumps
in the road. Some commentators have even ventured to suggest that it may be withdrawn
as a requirement on DVD systems. We must wait for the outcome in the fullness of time.
This delay introduces more uncertainty into the industry, because people don't want to
choose a losing format as a foundation for their service offerings.
The MPEG-4 part 2 codecs will most likely be deprecated in favor of H.264. My long-
term choice would be to go with H.264 because the technical specifications are a superset
of all the other codecs.