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-   -   .wmv and H.264 (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/avchd-format-discussion/236324-wmv-h-264-a.html)

Roger Shealy May 29th, 2009 04:34 AM

.wmv and H.264
This is not intended to be an incendiary comment.....

I've been using 8Mbps .wmv as a way of compactly storing and sharing HD projects. I've read a lot of comments on the forum that H.264 is the better option for size and image. So far, I'm underwhelmed by the comparison while using Sony Vegas. 8Mbps .wmv looks equal or better than 8Mpbs H.264 rendered on Vegas when playing on a PC. I'm very open to the fact perhaps Sony doesn't have the best encoder, perhaps I have some hidden switch set incorrectly, etc. One interest I have in H.264 is it seems Vimeo and other sites seem to be streamlining their sites for H.264 and sometimes others' content looks smoother and less pixelated than mine when uploading .wmv.

Is .wmv vs H.264 a subjective issue (Ford vs Chevy) or is there hard evidence H.264 is better visual quality at comparable bit rates?

Andy Wilkinson May 29th, 2009 04:58 AM

Good discussion starter. I agree the WMV codec is pretty damn good (even though I do most of my work on Macs now in FCP/Sorenson Squeeze etc. where WMV capability is an add on requiring expense). Certainly with Sony Vegas 7e (the last version I have/use regularly on my Windows editing box), I seem to remember comments on here that the Sony AVC codec (aka H.264) was "not the best" out there (at that time). You'll also read comments about better/richer colours from WMV encodes from some.

Most of my clients want WMV as well as Flash, DVD-Video, Master HD Quicktime etc. etc. so I get to encode the same final film in various formats...which is interesting. Each have their strengths and weaknesses but WMV is an excellent codec, it's just that H.264 is more bit rate efficient = faster downloading or progressive streaming which is what our ever impatient web viewers seem to increasingly demand. Hence it's growing popularity. It can also be easily displayed by up-to-date Flash players but, incidentally, I do most of my Flash encoding for corporate clients using Flash 8 (On2 VP6, via Sorenson, rather than H.264 by Vegas or Compressor in FCS2) as PC hardware and up to date Adobe Flash Player software that displays H.264 from web really well is "not always a given" in their own corporate environment and, more importantly, those of their customers. So it's not just about quality, often its about accessibility to the target audience too.

Finally, I too have had good results from uploading Vegas encoded WMVs to Vimeo, Exposure Room etc. and at times I think it's resulted in a more pleasing re-encode by them to Flash than when I try the same video in H.264 out of Compressor...but there are so many variables here and it depends on many specifics like the type of video material you're uploading as well as the multitude of encoding setting options for each format....many threads on all that!!!

Dave Pearce May 29th, 2009 05:24 AM

Hmmm, think ill give .wmv a go.
Quite happy with H.264 but always ready to change.


Bill Ravens May 29th, 2009 06:47 AM

I was convinced wmv was the best HD codec available until I was informed about MPEG_STREAMCLIP. This is the best H.264 encoder I've found, and it's free. Use the following settings(from Ervin Farkas) and you'll get results better than wmv
quality 100%
Limit Data Rate no less than 5mBps
check Multipass
check B-frames
check frame blending
check better downscaling
check deinterlace

Encoding H.264 seems to be problematic in most NLE's including Vegas, Media Composer and Edius. If done correctly H.264 will beat the pants off of wmv, and file sizes are smaller.

Brian Standing May 29th, 2009 07:40 AM

Hi, Bill. I tried out MPEG Streamclip, and I can't seem to get it to work with Cineform AVI files. Have you had any better luck?

Bill Ravens May 29th, 2009 07:42 AM


I don't seem to have any problems with Cineform v4.01. Works fine.
My typical workflow is to output a QTref from Avid MC, straight into MPEG_Strempclip.

Brian Standing May 29th, 2009 09:03 AM

Are you using Cineform AVI or MOV?

Bill Ravens May 29th, 2009 09:12 AM

using cineform avi

Roger Shealy May 29th, 2009 12:27 PM

Interesting you bring up Streamclip, I tried loading it last night and it locked my machine up. Maybe I'll give it another try after reading this conversation.

It's always hard to cut through the PC/Mac curtain on discussions like codec. I understand .wmv is inconvenient for Mac and many higher end users tend to use FCP and therefore their opinions carry a lot of weight, with many of us not fully understanding the influence of convenience in the Mac environment on their comments. I spent some time with my brother in-law comparing .wmv and H.264 and when I showed the first clip with .wmv he was quick to point out some pixelation on the smooth object ("look at that, see what .wmv does....". We then played H.264 and it was worse in that location and evident in other locations also.

David Stoneburner May 29th, 2009 05:40 PM

Recently I got an FX-7 and I'm starting to shoot HD and upload various things to YouTube. I was having problems with quality vs. size for uploading, till I started using Divx. I have been very happy with the quality, speed of encoding from Vegas 6 and size. Something worth considering.

Roger Shealy May 29th, 2009 06:18 PM

o.k., I took some handy footage from my hdv camera and rendered it to both mp4 and wmv and grabbed 2 sets of frames from each rendering (attached). After looking carefully at the blow-ups of the stills, the mp4 seems a little clearer with less noise and pixelation.

Ooops, removed pictures. Noticed the mp4's were much higher bit rate than wmv files, not fair. Will try to do again.

Roger Shealy May 29th, 2009 08:36 PM

8 Attachment(s)
Sorry to double post, I wasn't going to be able to sleep without being a little more scientific about the issue I brought up. Below are comparable frame grabs of renders of .wmv (left side) and .mp4 (right side) of same footage @ 8Mbps in both formats from Vegas Pro 8. After looking at them, I'd have to say the .mp4 is slightly better, all things considered.

1. Note slightly more pixelation in water run-off in .wmv than .mp4 on fountain.
2. Note slight better sharpness of moss and tree bark of .mp4 on mossy trees.
3. Note car tags on .mp4 are sharper than tags in .wmv
4. Riverboat seems approximately a tie. I can stretch and think the writing on riverboat bow and writing on rear of tractor trailer is a little sharper, but its very slight, if at all.

The .mp4 file is approximately 5% bigger file on average than .wmv in these 4 pictures, but seemed to render a little faster. In moving frames, these differences are very slight, so I won't be rushing to re-render my files to .mp4 that have already been rendered to .wmv.

Roger Shealy May 29th, 2009 09:28 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Perhaps a better way to compare (all zoomed to some degree):

Wacharapong Chiowanich May 29th, 2009 11:13 PM

Thanks Roger for taking time to do the tests and showed us the results. To my eyes, all H.264 grabs look sharper and have more details. To be fair, though, could you give us more details on the level or complexity of encoding, e.g. number of passes, the use of bi-directional predictive frames, level of "profile" as in "baseline", "main" or "high" in the case of H.264 encoding scheme etc.

I'm on a Mac system and not familiar with WMV encoding so you or someone here could suggest a level that's comparable to that of H.264. The use of equal data rate and total processing time (by the same NLE and on the same computer) is certainly a good start.


Roger Shealy May 30th, 2009 05:39 AM


I'm not sure I can answer all of you questions. As you know there are a lot of factors and each encoder has different variables. Here's a screen shot of the "Custom" tab in Vegas Pro 8 for the two renders. Just to be clear, my eyes agree with yors that .mp4 holds a slight visual edge over the .wmv (at least with these settings).

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