How True is This?

DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

"The most future-proof audio-video container formats today are QuickTime and Matroska. The ISO/IEC 14496-12:2004 (MPEG-4 Part 12: ISO base media file format) is the basis of MP4, M4V, and M4A files and it's a stripped-down version of Quicktime. Matroska is an independent and completely free and open-source community developer container format that implements most of the features of the QuickTime container format. In practice, Matroska containers have more varied content encodings since the user base uses a much wider range of tools to create the files. The ISO container is the most widely supported in commercial products. There's also Microsoft's Advanced Systems Format (ASF) which is proprietary to them and the basis for WMV and WMA files which is also fairly flexible." -- James McInnes

Comments

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,228 Ambassador

    What's the date of the source article? 

    I don't know Matroska but QT is in early-mid death throes. Windows QT hasn't been updated in several years, Mac QT development is halted, and right now it's really hanging on because so many DSLR, MFT and Action Cams use a QT wrapper for h.264.

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

    @Triem23 : The response to someone's question was dated April 1, 2016.  I thought QuickTime WAS dead. Years ago. I was quite surprised by the answer. The original question concerned AVIs and other video formats becoming obsolete.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast
    edited December 2016

    @DLKeur What follows are my comments on that answer

    The most future-proof audio-video container formats today are QuickTime and Matroska. The ISO/IEC 14496-12:2004 (MPEG-4 Part 12: ISO base media file format) is the basis of MP4, M4V, and M4A files and it's a stripped-down version of Quicktime.

    • First problem - QuickTime is basically dead especially on Windows. Second problem - Use of the MOV container for content creation (outside of QuickTime) requires a license from Apple so it's a closed format. That's not good for being "future proof". Third problem - The ISO spec listed is based on the QuickTime MOV and is stripped down but you can't put anything other than H.264 video into an MP4 or M4V container. M4A will only accept AAC audio. This is really a delivery container spec only.

    Matroska is an independent and completely free and open-source community developer container format that implements most of the features of the QuickTime container format. In practice,

    • In some ways Matroska implements more than QuickTime and has the potential to become a truly universal container however it still has a fatal flaw - Nothing important currently supports it. 

    Matroska containers have more varied content encodings since the user base uses a much wider range of tools to create the files.

    • True but varied content means having to have the right codecs just like you do with AVI files. Most of what you'll see in a Matroska file relies on the player having internal support or the use of DirectShow filters on Windows. DirectShow was a replacement for Video for Windows and it's fine for playback but DirectShow was never adopted in the editing world because there's no way to guarantee frame accurate decoding with DirectShow and being frame accurate is mandatory.  

    The ISO container is the most widely supported in commercial products.

    • I have no idea what the poster is talking about. ISO is not a video container. An ISO could contain video files but those files would have to be in some type of video container like AVI, MOV, M2TS etc etc otherwise it's just raw data.

    There's also Microsoft's Advanced Systems Format (ASF) which is proprietary to them and the basis for WMV and WMA files which is also fairly flexible.

    • ASF originally stood for Advanced Streaming Format and was designed for streaming or progressive download and little else. It's the least flexible format mentioned. 

    Final thought:

    AVI may be old and cantankerous but as a file format it's pretty robust and resilient and overall still the best choice for codecs like Cineform or the Grass Valley codecs on Windows. 

     EDIT: David Newman is the driving force behind the Cineform codec and this is from his personal blog. 

    This might be beating a dead horse, but QuickTime truly sucks.

    Windows users using Cineform in an AVI file won't run into this problem. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,228 Ambassador

    @Aladdin4d good insights, man! 

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345
    edited December 2016

    Oka-aaay. @Aladdin4d :  Wow.  Now, let me start with how I found that and why I went looking.  With the banding problem showing up in my first animation attempt, it brought up memories of some of the horrors I went through early on...like proprietary .jpg formats that wouldn't work in anything but the original program...like old Corel formats that were no longer supported...like the mess with audio files (remember .aud?)

    I'm one of those save it in as stable and open source format as possible, one that's going to be upward portable.  There's nothing worse than losing somebody's logo because you saved it in an Adobe format that has long since been binned and nothing but the old, cranky program will open it IF you can get your old '95 machine to boot.

    I'm a member of a private webmasters group, and there was discussion on there concerning video as THE communication media of the future. Then one of the MIT guys chimed in and said that, looking forward past HTML5, we're looking at video to become obsolete just like Flash has. Flash is nothing more than Adobe's proprietary format of DHTML, which, if memory serves (and it's been years, so I might be off, here), DHTML is VRML recoded so it's not bass-ackwards for the end-user. 

    So, with that comment, I went looking for "video becoming obsolete" and happened upon a couple of conversations, the one quoted above about AVI sending me into a bit of a meltdown...because, dang it, I thought AVI was kind of the master file level, like .WAV is for audio.

    I hate having to re-create projects because the format is no longer supported, yet, as a graphic artist with long-time clients (meaning people who have been using my services for a decade and two), I find myself having to do just that when they suddenly find they need their logo reprinted and have lost their files. 

    The mere though of having to  re-create an animation or any video project down the road sends willies up and down my spine...because I happen to agree that video is probably going to be the communication media most commonly used in the not-too-distant future...much as I prefer communicating in text.

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

    Oh, and, BTW, @Aladdin4d , I dismissed the ISO comment of that gentleman right off.  ;)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,228 Ambassador

    As a general observation on digital video banding--like feces--happens. 

    Ok, so 1080p video. A tick over 2 Megapixels per frame. About 6 Megabytes per frame. Let's go with 24 fps. That's roughly 144 Megabytes per second... 

    Encoded at, let's go with a "high-quality" Blu-ray rate of 20 megabits per second. Divide by 8 to get the real value of 2.5 megabytes/second.

    Roughly a 58:1 compression ratio. YouTube is over a 100:1 compression ratio.

    So all digital video for playback is the equivalent of saving a JPEG from photoshop at a quality setting of about 4... Or worse... 

    Just saying.

    And if we go to1080p at 29.97 fps the compression ratio is HIGHER because that Blu-ray still maxes at 20mbps and YouTube is still doing 12...

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

    @Triem23 : Yeah. I did some experimenting with my images today. Oh, horrors! I looked longingly at my bottle of rum for more than a moment. I start with something on the left side and wind up with something worse than on the right side of this set of screenshots: https://www.dropbox.com/s/itnrhqa2zlwwak7/QualComparison.png?dl=0

    What brought up this subject, though, was someone suggesting that video would become obsolete in a few years.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

     

    Obviously I don't know what your archiving strategy is (or is going to be for video) but Cineform is the basis for the SMPTE VC-5 standard. That means it's going to be around and viable as an archive format for a very long time. Many programs are also adding native support for it just like with the Windows version of HitFilm Pro 2017. Native support pretty much makes Cineform a no brainer.

    Another codec family you'll see mentioned a lot is Avid's DNxHD/HR. DNxHD is the basis for SMPTE VC-3 and the HR spec is being added to it so it's going to be around too but for the moment using it outside of Avid means resorting to QuickTime at some point for a Windows user. That said many programs are also adding native support for it. 

    I have some thoughts on banding issues but I want to do some testing first, a solution might be complex and it's getting late ;)

     

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

    @Aladdin4d : Yet another download and install. Figures. Argh. Hope nothing breaks...like my brain. 

    BANDING: I'm thinking of adding distortion or wave effects to mask any banding. I tried it today and it seems to work well with a mask. Now, though, I have to animate with keyframes the mask...and I didn't try it because I did have to get my client work done. :D What do you think?

  • NormanPCNNormanPCN Website User Posts: 3,945 Enthusiast

    MP4 container does support more than AVC video and AAC audio.

    http://www.mp4ra.org/codecs.html

    It is not accurate to call MP4 a stripped down Quicktime MOV.

    If one talks of an ISO container, that is too vague a statement. ISO is just a standards organization and they can standardize many file formats. The MP4 container does have an ISO spec.

    One really must separate Quicktime the file format from Quicktime the implementation. The Quicktime implementation may be dead but the file format is so pervasive it will live on forever.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    @NormanPCN

    "MP4 container does support more than AVC video and AAC audio"

    I'm surprised! You're usually more pedantic and accurate than that! First that's not what I said. What I said was "can't put anything other than H.264 video into an MP4 or M4V container". I made no mention of what audio streams those two could hold and what I said is actually true. MP4 and M4V as container file formats are currently restricted to H. 264 video. H.264 is one of only two video codecs (the other codec is not used in an MP4) currently specified in ISO(MPEG 4) 14496 and by the specification the MP4 container can only contain codecs within the specification. 

    Among other things the MPEG 4 Registration Authority is tasked with maintaining the registration of Base Media File Format extensions for the ISO. What you linked to is not a list of things appropriate for use in an MP4 container. It's a partial list of Base Media File Format extensions of which MP4 and M4V are but two of many. The error is most people assume the Base Media File Format and MP4 are the exact same thing when they aren't. Assuming they are the same is like assuming an ANI animated cursor file is the same as an AVI because they're both RIFF files that can hold animation.

    It's the Base Media File Format that's based directly on the MOV file spec not MP4. MP4v1 was a registered BMFF extension that was in turn generalized back into the BMFF then superseded by MP4v2. The BMFF is specified in ISO 14496 MPEG 4 Part 12 and in ISO 15444-12 which is the M-JPEG 2000 spec. ISO 15444 is not only completely separate from MPEG 4 it's also entirely independent of anything to do with the Motion Picture Experts Group. The BMFF wording in both is identical yet the respective containers are different with MJ2/MJP2 staying much closer to the base spec than MP4

    Yes MP4 as a container is almost identical to MOV and in theory it could do everything an MOV is capable of but in practice and by specification it doesn't. Look at H.263/3GPP video. That type of video can't be put in an MP4 or AVC container (yes AVC is also a container spec different from MP4 because of SVC and MVC, it's Part 15 if you're curious) even though you can put it in an MOV or in its own container designed for it which happens to also be a BMFF extension separate from MPEG 4. If you don't like stripped down MOV how about restricted MOV? Compared to an MOV an MP4 is definitely restricted. 

    VC-1 and Dirac use BMFF containers derived from ISO 14496 (MPEG 4) Part 12/ISO 15444-12(M-JPEG 2000) Part 12 and are also registered BMFF extensions completely separate from anything to do with MPEG 4. It's also worth noting neither one of these is an MPEG codec. These are both SMPTE codecs (Dirac is VC-2) 

    On top of that the  ISO 14496(MPEG-4) Part 2 ASP codec family(Divx/Xvid), the only other video codec in the spec. doesn't even rate a BMFF, not even MP4, and uses RIFF containers (AVI of course and the divx container is another RIFF based off AVI). HEVC will eventually use yet another BMFF container to be specified in ISO 23008 MPEG-H but for now it uses the MPEG Transport Stream or Matroska as a container. While I'm at it if you look closely at anything labeled MPEG 2 you'll notice none of the entries have to do with video compression. They are all transport stream related.

    VP8 and 9 are listed but they never made it past the draft stage as far as using a BMFF. Google develops WebM based off of Matroska as a container for them instead. Side note - Google's still image counterpart to WebM, WebP, is actually a RIFF.

    An MP4 file can have audio types other than AAC but M4A? Not so much even though you did get me here. I was unaware an M4A could also contain audio using the Apple Lossless Audio Codec until today but as of right now AAC and ALAC are all you'll find in a legal M4A file. I'm not going to go through all the audio formats you can use in an MP4 because there's a bunch except to say that most of the audio formats listed on the page you linked to won't work in an MP4. They are there because they are registered BMFF extensions not because of anything related to MPEG-4.

    The problem with separating the QuickTime file format from the QuickTime framework is it doesn't leave a Windows user many legally licensed options for creating MOV's. Even the mighty Adobe is focusing its efforts on the native decoding of MOV files, not the creation of them, with DV and Cineform MOV's being your only native creation choices right now. Magix Vegas 14 surprised me by adding native ProRes import and export but I would imagine most others will follow Adobe's lead and dump MOV creation entirely. That will kill off MOV eventually on Windows despite how pervasive it is. In contrast anybody can make AVI files without having to worry about licensing at all. 

    I'm well aware 90% or more of the information that's out there will say everything I've just written is BS but not many people have had to suffer through ISO conferences like I have. Even fewer would risk potential brain damage by asking ISO conference attendees for clarification like I did. If you take the time to read through all the standards and specs everything I've written is verifiable in them as well. Last but not least is the warning note from the registration site itself.

    Note well: the existence of an ObjectType identification here does not document in which contexts, if any, that code-point may be used. The documentation must be consulted.

     

     

     

  • DLKeurDLKeur Website User Posts: 345

    @Aladdin4d : Fascinating! Thank you.

  • AvalonAvalon Website User Posts: 96

    So what about XDCAM EX then? Though it might be outdated meanwhile, it is MP4 containing MPEG-2 video and PCM audio.

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    @Avalon While that's true it's also entirely out of spec which is why the clip browser software that shipped with those camera has the ability to re-wrap clips to an MXF container and Sony provided input plugins for FCP and Avid. 

    Let's say I am totally wrong and MPEG 2 is allowed in spec what Sony did is still out of spec because MPEG 4 doesn't have any provision for uncompressed audio. Uncompressed audio is on the chart NormanPCN linked to but if you check the documentation it's not in any MPEG spec it's in the M-JPEG 2000 spec as part of the MJ2 containter.

     

  • AvalonAvalon Website User Posts: 96

    Interesting facts, thanks.

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