Chapter 4. What is H.264?


This chapter introduces H.264 from a number of perspectives. First, we address the question – what is H.264? H.264 can mean different things from different viewpoints. It is an industry standard; it defines a format for compressed video data; it provides a set of tools that can be used in a variety of ways to compress and communicate visual information; it is a stage in an evolving series of standardized methods for video compression. We look at the basic operations carried out within an H.264 encoder (compressor) and decoder (decompressor). We look in more depth inside H.264, examining what is contained within the H.264 standard, what are the main sets of tools and components, presenting an outline of the H.264 compression syntax or format and looking in more detail at the flow of data through a typical H.264 codec. Finally we discuss some of the practical issues – just how good is H.264 at doing its job; how is H.264 used in 'real' applications.

What is H.264?

H.264 Advanced Video Coding is an industry standard for video coding, but it is also a popular format for coded video, a set of tools for video compression and a stage in a continuously evolving digital video communication landscape. This section introduces some of these 'views' of H.264/AVC.

A video compression format

H.264 is a method and format for video compression, the process of converting digital video into a format that takes up less capacity when it is stored or transmitted. Video ...

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