Coulda Been a Contender

Miles Brando Icon Miles was sick recently, voice went hoarse, started talking like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront.” In fact, so much so that we couldn’t help ourselves from encouraging him to learn a couple of lines from that famous movie.

This actually made for a nice opportunity to do quality/size comparisons between h.263 and the new h.264 codec in QuickTime 7. With default settings, the h.264 exports definitely looked much better, but also had larger file sizes. But by twitching the quality slider from High to Medium, the file size was chopped dramatically, resulting in simultaneous higher quality and smaller files.

h.264 version (requires QuickTime 7)
h.263 version (everyone else)

Music: 20 Minute Loop :: Aeroflot

8 thoughts on “Coulda Been a Contender

  1. I know there’s at least basic support for QuickTime under Linux — I’ve used it (and we had it under BeOS of course). The question is whether / which codecs are supported. h.263 has been around so long, I thought I remembered that it was a nearly-universal one. And there is mention on some of the QuickTime for Linux pages out there about h.263 support. Are you sure it’s not just that you’re having trouble with the .qtl extension? What happens if you access the movie file directly?

    http://birdhouse.org/miles/brando/miles_brando_h263.mov

    Not this particular video is worth going to any particular effort to get working, I’m just curious why it wouldn’t work for you with the default QuickTime player in your distro.

  2. Are you saying that QT for Linux doesn’t handle h.263?

    There is no QuickTime for Linux. Apple has never released any player, nor have they opened the source to their codecs.

    There are attempts to backport, and apparently mPlayer can play a lot of QuickTime stuff. I don’t have mPlayer installed, I use the default Totem player which uses the nice GStreamer plugin media framework.

    GStreamer with the available QuickTime libraries and FFMPEG plays that .mov, but with no sound.

    QuickTime, like Word, might be ubiquitous, but until Apple opens it up a little, it’s not a standard.

  3. My understanding has always been that the QuickTime architecture (which is really just a player / wrapper for the codecs) was open, which is why we had QuickTime support in BeOS. I could swear that I’ve played QuickTime movies in various Linux distros in the past without installing anything special – maybe I’m misremembering?

    Codecs are an entirely different matter. The QT architecture can host any codec, and the installed codec collection is an amalgamation of what Apple provides plus what the user installs from 3rd parties. To my knowledge, very few of the codecs that come with QuickTime are actually Apple’s intellectual property. For example, Sorenson-encoded QuickTime was a problem under BeOS because the Sorenson folks wouldn’t open the codec to it. But if you look at the list of codecs in QuickTime, most of them are fairly old, and are present in other media players for other platforms.

  4. VLC and MPlayer will both soon have support for h.264 as I understand it. I guess you can make it work today if you compile from source, but I’m sure someone has some beta binaries floating around if you’re like me and lazy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *