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What is H.264/Advanced Video Coding?

With the AVC video stream, there are many benefits. Here's more about it and how it works with video encoders.

Broadcast Operator , Content Distribution
Matt Moore07.06.20233 min read

Advanced Video Coding (AVC) is the most popular video compression standard on the planet. Also referred to as H.264, the standard is used to record, compress, and distribute video content with resolutions up to and including 8K UHD.

With the AVC video stream, there are many benefits. Here's more about it and how it works with video encoders.

What is AVC?

The H.264/AVC standard, or codec, has been designed to provide high-quality video at much lower bit rates than earlier standards like MPEG-2, H.263, or MPEG-4 Part 2.

Bitrates are the units of information that must get processed for each video second. Because of its design flexibility, the standard works with various apps across different networks and systems, including Blu-ray, on-demand, and broadcast. In addition, end-points can offer different bitrates and resolutions.

What is H.264?

Two standards bodies developed H.264/AVC. The ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group called the standard "H.264," while the ISO/IEC JTC1 Moving Picture Experts Group, or MPEG, called it "Advanced Video Coding," or "AVC." However, H.264 and AVC both use the same technology interchangeably.

Various patents restrict H.264/AVC. To use the technologies for commercial use requires the payment of royalties. H.264 technology is free to use for end-users.

The Importance of Video Encoding

With video encoding, the size of RAW video data gets compressed, so it's easier to move from one location to another. Without compression, a RAW video file could easily surpass the size of one Blu-ray, making it nearly impossible to move across different formats. During this process, redundant visual information and details get removed, while mathematical calculations generate most of each video frame rather than recording every frame.

What is AVC Codec?

A codec is either a device or computer program designed to encode and decode a data stream or signal. It's the mechanism that compresses the video content and makes it available in various formats. At no part during the process is video quality compromised.

Who Uses AVC Video Streams?

As of October 2020, H.264/AVC remained the dominant codec. In a survey at the time, 91% of participants used it. The next nearest codec (see below), H.265, had less than half that number. AVC stream is used extensively by the most prominent internet sources, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo, and Apple's iTunes Store.

In addition, the AVC coding codec makes it possible to distribute and stream the same content across various streaming devices. These include laptops and desktop computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

Where AVC Streaming is Heading

Eventually, H.264/AVC will get replaced as the preferred standard. However, that's probably not going to be H.265/MPEG-H Part 2, as some might have guessed.

The newer standard offers between 25% and 50% better data compression at the same level of video quality at the same bitrate. It also supports video resolutions up to 8K UHD.

Despite this, H.265 lacks far behind H.264/AVC in terms of usage. Increased patent protection is often cited as the primary reason for this. Because of this, the future might eventually be AV1, which has a royalty-free licensing model, making it ideal for open-source use.

Where to Start with AVC Video Streams

Through the Zype App Creator platform, your streaming video content is easily accessible across multiple platforms. You can quickly build, customize, and launch apps anywhere, thanks to the service. It allows you to bring your site, video library, or print publications to apps through the Apple App Store, Google Play, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple News, and more. Learn more about Zype.

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