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What is H.264?

H.264 is a compression standard for high definition (HD) digital video. It is sometimes called MPEG4-AVC, which is consdered Advanced Video Coding. It was developed in part to address the large file sizes of prior compression techniques and to allow flexibility in the sources of compression. Many organizations have developed compression methods that have contributed to H.264 and the standard which is called “MPEG-4 Part 10 / Advanced Video Coding or MPEG-4 AVC”. This standard provides an improvement in compression efficiency over MPEG-2 as it produces approximately a 50% reduction in file size for comparable video quality. The standard is scalable to include higher resolutions such as 4K and 8K.

H.264 achieved widespread adoption and as a result it is included in many video transmission methods and storage applications globally. Lower bit rates and file sizes have enabled better throughput of video through communications systems and this has allowed widespread adoptions of video tools, video conferencing and video storage. Often, but not always, H.264 is encoded with the AAC audio codec and in this way, H.264 includes audio.

Why is H.264 Important?

The importance of H.264 is that it is a defined standard that manufacturers can build to and implement in both hardware and software products. Its widespread adoption has allowed video to proliferate in transmission and storage archives. The key efficiency H.264 delivers is that it reduces storage and transmission requirements for high quality video by approximately 50%.

An additional advantage of H.264 as a standard is that it is part of a roadmap of standards that are bringing improved quality and efficiency to video storage and transmission. Standards allow manufacturers to build software and hardware that can interoperate broadly. H.264 compression techniques have given rise to Codecs that are based on this standard and these codecs are embedded in browsers, applications and hardware. These Codecs allow interoperation of systems and communications devices.

H.264 in Webcasting and Videoconferencing

The widespread proliferation of high-quality HD webcasts and video conferencing, in large part has been built on the H.264 compression standard and, in turn, H.264 Codecs. H.264 Codecs built into streaming systems and video conferencing systems enabled reduced transmission bandwidth for webcasts and video conferences. This reduction in bandwidth for transmission has enabled higher quality communication throughput at low rates of data transmission bandwidth.

H.264 ushered in a new widespread adoption of video communications as a result of H.264 Codec implementations.

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