RealVideo offers “best codec”

A new report evaluating the quality of streaming media codecs has chosen RealVideo as the best and Windows Media as one of the worst.

The findings came from in two research reports, Proprietary Streaming Codecs, 2006 and Flash Codecs, 2006. The first report compares RealVideo and Windows Media with top Flash and H.264 codecs, while the second compares the quality of Flash video codecs and encoding tools.

The reports were written provide an objective counterbalance to the hyperbole coming from both the Flash and H.264 camps, StreamingMedia said. One of the key findings from the Proprietary report, for example, was that the quality of the best Flash and H.264 codecs still trailed RealVideo, often by a significant margin.

Files used to compare the technologies were encoded by Apple, Microsoft, and RealNetworks to ensure optimal quality. The report also compared the quality of prominent encoding tools such as Autodesk Cleaner XL, Canopus ProCoder, and Sorenson Squeeze, finding a significant disparity between the tools.

The Flash report found that On2’s VP6 codec was clearly superior to both Wildform and the Sorenson Spark codec, but that VP6 output quality varied widely between encoding tools. The report advises that producers can achieve optimal results with VP6 by customizing encoding parameters for video content and bit rate.

With some videos, particularly slow-motion talking-head shots, the report said, the Macromedia Flash 8 Video Encoder, using single pass, CBR encoding, produced better quality than either Squeeze or Flix Pro using two pass, VBR encoding.

To research the reports, the report’s author, Jan Ozer, produced a six-minute test file composed of 38 scenes representing typical business, sports, and entertainment videos, along with several animations and still image pans and zooms.

The reports analyzed video quality in up to five configurations — modem, 3GPP, 100 Kb/s, 300Kb/s and 500Kb/s — and compared frame quality, temporal and color quality, and playback smoothness. Buyers can download all videos and still image files used in the analysis, along with a convenient interface for viewing the video files and still images.

The reports help technology decision makers in corporations, media companies and mobile markets choose the best codec and compression tools and those producing streaming media to optimize quality and streamline work flow.

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