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Thread: HD, Video Quality, and vShare - What You Really Need To Know

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default HD, Video Quality, and vShare - What You Really Need To Know

    Over the past few weeks, I have noticed an increasing number of people posting regarding HD video and vShare. Some want to know whether or not it is possible to have HD video in vShare. Others want a player that can player that can play HD. Most are in the middle of the road. The purpose of this post is to help you all understand what HD really is and give you some pointers about how you can get better quality video with vShare.

    What is HD?
    There seem to be a lot of definitions regarding what is HD. To answer this question, let me start off by telling what HD is NOT:

    1. HD is not high quality video, although most HD is high quality video
    2. HD is not a video format, although most HD exists as a small handful of video formats
    3. HD is not a standard, although standards exist for HD
    4. Most importantly, not all HD is created equal

    HD, or High Definition, refers to any video in which the visual resolution is greater than or equal to 720 vertical lines. In simple terms, HD is nothing more than a video resolution (similar to your screen's resolution)... that's it. That's all there is to it.

    Wait... What?
    The truth of the matter is that many people confuse High Definition with High Quality, which are two different things. What is "High Quality" you may ask. Technically, High Quality is anything better than Standard Quality. In practice, however, High Quality usually refers to a level of quality relative to a base quality. In the case of vShare, High Quality is anything better than the default shipping settings. But, what is really "better?" To understand this, let's start from the beginning so that we can understand exactly what we are dealing with.

    What is considered HD?
    Anything greater than or equal to 720 vertical lines is considered HD. Currently, we have several 16:9 resolution standards that fall under the HD umbrella. They are:

    720i/p - 1280px x 720px
    1080i/p - 1920px x 1080px

    What is this whole "i" and "p" deal?
    The "i" refers to interlaced video whereas the "p" refers to progressive video. They do not refer to a type of quality (in other words, 1080i isn't better than 1080p). What they do refer to is how much visual information your eyes get per second (in other words, a quantity). Without getting too technical, interlaced video, per second, shows about half of the frames than the same video that is progressive. The result is motion blur. Motion blur is considered to be visually bad, but from a technical sense, the resolutions between an "i" and "p" video are exactly the same.

    Video Compression
    Video formats come in two basic styles: lossy and lossless. Lossy formats, such as your MPEG's, Windows Media's, Flash Videos, XVid's, DivX's, etc, employ a type of data compression in which, when decompressed, produces an approximation of what the original data stream looked like. Lossless formats, such as your CorePNG, FF Video's, SheerVideo's, etc, employ a type of data compression in which, when decompressed, produces an exact copy of the original data stream. Now, you did in fact read this correctly. Both lossy and lossless formats employ compression. The difference, however, is in the reconstruction.

    For lossy formats, the resultant file is not a true 1:1 copy of the original. How close the resultant video is to the original source is based on the conversion settings used, the format, and the source video. Because lossy formats have a much higher ratio of compression resulting in smaller files, all web-based video formats use this style. Currently, there are no web-based video formats using lossless formats. Likewise, every video that you purchase on a round disc at a store uses lossy formats as well. One inherent problem of lossy formats is that they are subject to generation loss. Generation loss is basically a loss of quality and, in some cases, an increase in file size, as the result of transcoding from one lossy format to another lossy format. Because of generation loss, you will want to start with the highest quality file possible before transcoding it into another format.

    For lossless formats, the resultant file is a true 1:1 copy of the original. Because of this, the compression ratio is usually very small. If a RAW video is 4GB in size, the resultant lossless video is going to be about 4GB in size as well, making it hard to use for a web-based video format in which bandwidth is limited. Typically, only media professionals use lossless formats. One good thing about lossless formats is that they are not subject to generation loss.

    So how does this relate to tube sites?
    The majority of the tube sites out there utilize flash players. This means that video formats that are used by tube sites have to be apart of the Flash standard. Flash players were created to play Adobe (formally Macromedia) Flash Videos (FLVs) and Flash Animation. Prior to version 9 update 3, Flash Video referred to a set of proprietary (non-open) formats used by Adobe (Macromedia at the time): Sorenson H.263 (Flash 7) and VP6 (Flash 8 ). The majority of Flash Video on tube sites is encoded in Sorenson H.263 format as VP6 (created by On2 Technologies) claimed intellectual property rights on VP6 which prevented most open codecs from encoding/decoding into the format for a few years after its release.

    In December 3, 2007, Adobe released Flash 9 Update 3 (Flash code named "Moviestar". This minor update contained a big feature... support for H.264 and HE-AAC audio. Effectively, this meant that Adobe was moving away from Flash Video (proprietary format) and to H.264 (open format).

    What is H.264?
    H.264 was developed in joint by the ITU-T's Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC's Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). The partnership was collectively known as the Joint Video Team (JVT). Because of the partnership, there are actually two technically identical, but separate, standards that are jointly maintained. The first is H.264 (named after the H.26x standard set by the ITU-T). The second is MPEG-4 Part 10 (also known as MPEG-4 AVC). The standard was written to provide good video quality that was comparable if not better than MPEG-2 but at much smaller bit rates. It was also written to be a broad standard capable of serving just about any video purpose (whether it be broadcast, disc, Internet, etc). One thing to note is that H.264/MPEG-4 AVC is not to be confused with MPEG-4 Part 2, which is the MPEG-4 Visual Standard.

    Is H.264 just MPEG-4 Video?
    No. MPEG-4 Part 2 describes the video formats for the MPEG-4 standard. H.264 is a separate set of standards for advanced video under the MPEG-4 umbrella. Products such as Xvid, DivX, 3ivx, etc, use various profiles under the MPEG-4 Part 2 visual standard. H.264 has completely separate profiles for use as described in the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard.

    If the two are different, why MP4?
    MPEG-4 Part 14 describes the ISO/IEC format for which how MPEG-4 video can be contained. The standard container is MP4. Thus, all MPEG-4 Standards can exist as a MP4 file. Apple, Inc, has created unofficial, but supported containers for separating out video from audio: M4A (audio), M4V (video), and M4R (ringtones). However, the extensions are generally interchangeable as the extensions are just MP4 files (in other words, outside of the extension, nothing is technically different between them).

    So, in terms of quality, is MPEG-4 Part 2 or Part 10 better?
    This question has been up for debate even before H.264 came to be (in 2003). Many critics of the MPEG-4 standard have stated that from a technical standpoint, MPEG-4 is no better than MPEG-2. Regardless of this, one thing is for certain in that MPEG-4 Part 10 has a much better compression ratio than Part 2 or MPEG-2.

    Is H.264 considered the HD format?
    While H.264 is not considered the "HD" format, because of it's versatility and ability to be used in a vast array of applications, H.264 is used for HD video applications. One of the benefits of H.264 is that you can achieve the same level of visual MPEG-2 quality at up to 1/4th of the size. Because of this, many Satellite TV providers have switched from using MPEG-2 to H.264. Also, the DVB2 standard currently in the works has switched from MPEG-2 to H.264 (meaning that at some point in the near future, Cable TV, over the air digital, and other systems using DVB will start to make the transition to H.264). From the disc world, both Blu-ray and the defunct HD DVD use H.264 as a video format (in addition to VC-1 and MPEG-2).

    So, how does this all work with vShare
    With all of that said, here is how it boils down to the vShare community.

    1. HD doesn't refer to a quality, it refers to a resolution. If you want to display you videos in that resolution, simply change the player's resolution in your control panel.

    2. The Flash standard supports three video formats, Sorenson H.263 (FLV), VP6 (FLV), and H.264. The Flash standard does not support all of the H.264 profiles. But it does support the two most common, Baseline (mainstream profile) and High (used in Blu-ray and HD DVD).

    3. The default settings in vShare converts your videos into Sorenson H.263 at 500kbps with MP3 mono 22.050Khz audio. The default settings do not create a standard resolution so the resolution of the video is going to be whatever the uploaded video is.

    4. Most website Flash players support the latest Flash standards for video (including the 4.X versions of JW) so you can technically use any of them to play H.264. The only other requirement is that your visitor would require at least Flash 9 Update 3 to play the video.

    5. Converting into H.264 with vShare 2.6 is possible, but it does require a mod (to do it natively in vShare). You can always convert it via a third party means.

    6. To get more quality, you simply need to change your encoding parameters to encode at higher bit rates. However, note that to get better quality, you must start from better quality as most web video formats are lossy (uploading terrible quality video yields even more terrible quality videos). Note, Sorenson H.263 was designed for low-bitrate applications. Thus, increasing the bit rate usually doesn't increase the video quality by that much. If you want really good quality, you'll likely need to either encode into VP6 (which supports high quality videos) or mod vShare to support H.264.

    7. MPEG-4 is not supported by the Flash standard. H.264 is. MPEG-4 is not the same as H.264, even though they fall under the same standard umbrella.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: HD, Video Quality, and vShare - What You Really Need To Know

    A very good post, bplex.

  3. #3


    Informative post, thanks for sharing the info.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    As usual, bplex, fantastic.

  5. #5

    Default What people are talking about whan thay want HD

    What people are asking for when they ask for HD player is the HD format is widescreen and if you upload a HD video to vshare after it converts your edges are cut off they have several inches misssing from the video.
    even in full screen. 720 I/P cuts off about 1 inch on each side.
    1080 I/P cuts off more this is size relevent not quality.
    That is a good post west but not what people want to know when they are talking HD what your talking about is HQ (ie High Quality )

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    I'm not sure who you are referring to (whether west or myself) as west didn't post this thread. I'm assuming you are talking to me.

    With that regard, this post was in response to some posts made back in April regarding people wanting HD players and not understanding what HD is. This post addresses what HD is, and what HD isn't.

    As I stated in my post, HD IS NOT HQ. HD is nothing more than a resolution. If all someone wants is a widescreen format, all they have to do is change their player size to match the resolution they want (i.e. make their player widescreen) and change their conversion settings so that it converts the video into a 16:9 as opposed to a 4:3. To further go along with that, simply changing your resolution doesn't achieve what most people call "HD." To get what most people call "HD," you have to not only change your resolution, but you have to change your video codec as well (to something that can produce HQ video at high resolutions (HD) without sacrificing portability, which is needed for any web-based video). This is why my post talks about H.264.

    In addition to that, my post also addresses that H.264 IS NOT MP4, which was in one of the discussions back in April. I don't need to repeat myself on this, you can just read the post above.

    Lastly, to address your "cutting off" issue, this happens because the conversion settings in vShare, by default, create 4:3 video and not 16:9 video. You will have to change your conversion settings to convert to 16:9. One thing to note, however, is that by changing your settings to convert to 16:9, you actually hurt 4:3 video. The proper way to handle both 16:9 and 4:3 is to do an auto detect in your conversion settings and instruct your flash player to not fill the screen (but rather, play the video in its native format).

    To sum it all up, this post was not an instruction guide to how to create HQ or HD video or how to get vShare to create HQ or HD video. It was meant to explain to the masses what HD is, what HQ is, and what neither of them are.
    vShare Solutions
    Custom vShare Modules and Services

    Now, your visitors can watch videos on your site using their mobile or tablet device with the Mobility Mod for vShare 2.8!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010

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