8 Replies Latest reply on Nov 9, 2012 3:30 AM by Josh444

    H.264 Question - Format?


      Hi all,


      I have a question that'll hopefully be fairly straightforward - just want some clearing up. I'm writing a project on codecs & formats (containers) and am a little confused by Media Encoders namings, H.264 is under the 'format' tab.

      I am unaware of H.264 being the name of a container, is it not just a codec?


      Seeing as it exports that with a .mp4 extension I can assume that it's more a MPEG-4 container.

      But then when selecting MPEG-4 as the format we get the extension .3gp.


      What exactly is this? Seems like the naming system of different codecs and formats seems to have gotten a bit lost to me.

      Is H.264 (when refering to the format) essencially MPEG-4 Part 14? But in which case couldn't MPEG-4 Part 14 be some other codec too?



      Thanks in advance for anyone who can clear this up,


        • 1. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
          John T Smith Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          Some reading that may help

          Read Bill Hunt on a file type as WRAPPER http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440037

          What is a CODEC... a Primer http://forums.adobe.com/thread/546811

          What CODEC is INSIDE that file? http://forums.adobe.com/thread/440037


          When you go to the bakery section in your local grocery, you will see many "loaves of bread" on the shelf (these are the containers)


          Any given loaf may contain whole wheat or oat bread or bleached white bread (these are codecs)


          Video example... AVI may contain DV AVI Type 2 which edits well in PPro, or it may contain xVid which does NOT edit well in PPro

          • 2. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
            Jim_Simon Level 8

            I wouldn't take Adobe preset naming as being 'technically accurate'. They're just labels is all.

            • 3. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
              Josh444 Level 1

              Thanks for the replies guys, sorry taken a while to get back, been pretty busy!


              John, thanks for the links, they may prove useful. I know the difference between a wrapper format & a codec, that's not really my question.


              I think Jim is understanding what I'm trying to say, it seems a little ridiculous that the preset naming isn't technically accurate, it is afterall a professional piece of software, we should know exactly what is what.


              This is where I am referring to:


              H.264 has been bunged in with container formats, AVI, Quicktime mov etc. But I'm correct in saying theres no such thing as a H.264 codec. Seems misleading having it there.

              So it basically means it's a mp4 container (MPEG-4 right?) using H.264 as the codec?


              Namings of codecs/formats are confusing enough without Adobe mislabeling stuff.

              • 4. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
                Steven L. Gotz Level 5



                You are technically correct. It is an mp4 container using an H.264 codec.


                However, there are many people who just know that they have been told to export to H.264 and they just want to be able to do that without thinking about the file name / extension.


                It would be more accurate to show it on the list as mp4 (H.264), not to be confused with MPEG4 which is a horse of a different color.

                • 5. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
                  Jim_Simon Level 8

                  So it basically means it's a mp4 container (MPEG-4 right?) using H.264 as the codec?


                  Not necessarily.  If you export out video and audio muxed, you'll get MP4.  If you export out just video, you'll get .m4v.  If you export out just audio, you can set the Multiplexor to MP4, 3GP or None (for which you'll get an .aac file).


                  So you can have different container formats, all using the H.264 codec, which is probably why Adobe labeled it as such.

                  • 6. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
                    Josh444 Level 1

                    Thanks guys, starting to understand, pretty sure I was correct, just mislead.


                    Jim, if only an audio file would that still use H.264 as the codec then? More just out of interest that relevence.


                    I think I do understand why they choose to use it as a category, but I still feel it's misleading being technically categorised wrongly.

                    Anyway, thanks again all!

                    • 7. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
                      Jim_Simon Level 8

                      AAC is part of the MPEG4 specification just like H.264.  So the answer is..."sort of".


                      Close enough for labeling purposes, though.

                      • 8. Re: H.264 Question - Format?
                        Josh444 Level 1

                        Thanks again Jim, makes sense.

                        Appreciate your help guys, I'm sure I'll be back with more codecy/compression queries soon...