Are you ready for FullHD videos on the web ?

As you know, I’m playing around H.264 and all its techniques and properties in the quest for the best quality / bitrate ratio at HD resolutions. The last two experiments,
SigurRos’s Heima (720) @ 500Kbit/s and Hero’s small extract (720p) @ 500Kbit/s, are extreme attempts to push H.264 to its limit. The quality / bandwidth ratio was very very good, but some of you argued that, on the other hand, “absolute” quality was not soo high, at least not in all scenes.

It is true. Even if I’m able today to reach an appreciably higher quality at such bitrate, It’s important to understand that lowering the bitrate too much subtracts details from the picture up to a point in which that picture can not be defined HD anymore. I can first subtract bits from less important parts of a picture but in high motion scene I need to subtract bits also in the most important part of the picture.

Indeed, my efforts today are concentrated to reach vibrant HD quality around 1Mbit/s for every footage type (low, med and high motion), which is a very difficult task.
I’d have very interesting encodings to show, but today I would prefer to go beyond and try some experiment of FullHD Video (1080p) delivery on the web at sustainable bitrates. Can we do it efficiently today ? – What are the problems about it ? – Is the audience ready for that ? – Does the game worth the candle ?

I’ll discuss about these topics in the next posts, by now, let’s take a look at this classic” Heima video encoded in Full HD (1920 x 1080 25p) at only 1500Mbit/s:

Observe the wide difference in details preservation and also the fine grain retention in some scenes. To fully enjoy this gorgious Full HD video you need a wide monitor (22” or 24” at least) or, better, a big Full HD plasma tv.

Thanks to a fix of my previous full screen player, now the video should play smooth as silk at full screen and a Core 2 duo @ 1.8GHz should do the job without losing frames. This is also the debut of my a new Video Player (Beta). To toggle full screen mode, double click on the movie.

What do you think about it ? How do you compare the absolute quality of the old test to this new one ? Consider that Full HD requires a number of pixels double than HD and so an almost double bitrate is requires.

In the next post I’ll publish a much more difficult Full HD encoding. In the while, if you like, send me your user experience notes by email (of the new player look&feel too) and don’t forget to mention your hardware-software configuration. Thanks.

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