Sorry for this complete newbie question, but I’m flooded with online information and am looking for some concise advice …
For all of you who are familiar with Avidemux:
The program offers an abundance of video output formats (MPEG-2, MPEG-4.AVC, MPEG-4.ASP (lavc), MPEG-4 (xvid), H.263). Which format would you recommend for storing home videos, with regard to (a) being able to view them easily on different PC platforms, and to (b) being able to view them still in n > 5 years from now?
Go for H.264 video. Although it can take lots of time to encode it (depending on settings of course), it offers not only superior quality to MPEG4 ASP (Xvid, DivX, 3ivX, etc) but also offers much better compression and is a “modern” video format currently taking over the world
Xvid & co won’t be obsolete in the sense that you won’t be able to play it in n > 5 years (you can still play MPEG1 video, can’t you? And MPEG1 is way older than Xvid/MPEG4 ASP) but is a poor choice when it comes to quality and compression. Certainly, it has its positives too, like less CPU strain for decoding (so it’ll be better on very outdated hardware) and currently a wider stand-alone devices support, though H264 is gaining on that quickly.
Consider and outweigh the pros and cons above, and choose the one better suited to your needs. If you go for H264 video, never stuff it in an AVI and leave it at that, as no HW player will pay it and AVI is a container that isn’t optimal for such video due to its nature (it can be used as intermediate container though)… so either go for MP4 or MKV container
I agree with Microchip re: H.264. My main concern there is a video with a large resolution and high bit rate encoding in H.264 codec format won’t play on an old PC. One needs either a moderately new PC, or an older PC with something like a nVidia card with vdpau support.
I’m pretty sure that an old Athlon Tbird @ 1 GHz can handle SD H264 video, even ones encoded with CABAC turned on (CABAC requires a good amount of decoding processing power), but beyond that, with stuff like 720p or 1080p, it’ll just choke and the player will probably start dropping frames hard, and A/V sync could get lost too
I’ve encoded a couple of videos now using H264/mp4, and the encoding time wasn’t too bad, even on my 5-yr-old laptop. Decoding and playing is fine, too, and since any processors I’d be getting in the future should be faster than my current one, I think I’m set.
The small file size is really impressive, given the quality of the pictures!
Might be worth to check if it’s originally encoded in something more widely supported, like mp3 or AAC. Last time I looked most standalone players only supported these two.
I’m sorry to say I’ve a lot of ogm videos with dual ogg audio tracks that won’t run nor seek smoothly with mplayer and xbmc media center - I have to remove one of the tracks or reencode to mp3 in an avi container.