Apple's great description LINK and see below
Very good article on the competition as of June 2004 LINK
Microsoft Player supports http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=316992#34
Comparison of Panasonic Mpeg-2 and Mpeg-4 camcorders LINK
The new revolution in digital media is here. MPEG-4 is the next-generation, global multimedia standard, delivering professional-quality audio and video streams over a wide range of bandwidths, from cell phone to broadband and beyond.
|MPEG-4 was defined by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), the working group within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that specified the widely adopted, Emmy Award-winning standards known as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. Hundreds of researchers around the world contributed to MPEG-4, which was finalized in 1998 and became an international standard in 2000.|
Based on a Time-tested Technology
While audio and video are at the core of the MPEG-4 specification, MPEG-4 can also support 3D objects, sprites, text and other media types.
Sound familiar? It should. You’ve been able to mix media with Apple’s QuickTime technology for over a decade, storing each new type in a separate track. With this kind of extensibility, it’s no surprise that the ISO chose the QuickTime file format as the foundation for the new MPEG-4 standard.
Just as QuickTime does, MPEG-4 also scales to transport media at any data rate — from media suitable for delivery over dial-up modems to high-bandwidth networks. Because of the DNA-level relationship between MPEG-4 and QuickTime, MPEG-4 inherits QuickTime’s stability, extensibility and scalability.
Tomorrow’s Media Today
MPEG-4 is designed to deliver DVD (MPEG-2) quality video at lower data rates and smaller file sizes. And the same folks who created the popular .mp3 file format — a.k.a. MPEG-1 layer III — developed the new Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codec, providing much more efficient compression than MP3 with a quality rivaling that of uncompressed CD audio.
MPEG-4 is ready to stream incredible-quality audio and video today in QuickTime 6. With the free QuickTime Player or browser plug-in, you can play back any compliant MPEG-4 file. Upgrade to QuickTime Pro, and you can author your own MPEG-4 content. QuickTime Streaming Server 5 and Darwin Streaming Server 5 are also available to stream .mp4 files. And with QuickTime Broadcaster, you can produce live events in MPEG-4, making the QuickTime workflow (Broadcaster to Server to Player) the industry’s first end-to-end, standards-based architecture.
But that’s not all. Because hundreds of multimedia authoring applications are built upon the QuickTime architecture, QuickTime 6 instantly adds MPEG-4 capabilities to all these tools. This allows you to immediately create MPEG-4 content in programs such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Discreet Cleaner, and many more.
Plays Well With Others
Like MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 previously did for CD-ROMs and DVDs, MPEG-4 promises to create interoperability for video delivered over the Internet and other distribution channels. MPEG-4 will play back on many different devices, from satellite television to wireless devices.
The QuickTime file format
|To ensure that different products that use MPEG-4 each implement the standard in the same way, Apple, together with the Cisco, IBM, Kasenna, Philips and Sun Microsystems, formed the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA). Other participants include AOL Time Warner, Dolby Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, National Semiconductor, Sony, and 25 other companies. The ISMA defines profiles that companies implement to ensure interoperability.|
That means you can rest assured that the MPEG-4 media stream you create using one company’s product will run on another vendor’s player.
In addition to being adopted by many of the Internet’s premiere content providers, the MPEG-4 standard is receiving tremendous support in other industries. For example, the new standards for high-quality multimedia on wireless devices, 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and 3GPP2 (3rd Generation Partnership Project 2), are based on the solid foundation of MPEG-4.
Everyone’s a Winner
MPEG-4 provides an open playing field. As an open, industry standard, anyone can create an MPEG-4 player or encoder that will work with other manufacturer’s devices.
Media companies save time and resources by encoding material once for playback everywhere. No longer will content providers need to encode, host, and store media in multiple formats. Instead, a single format can reach a broad audience equipped with playback devices from not one, but a multitude of companies across a wide array of platforms. Finally, content creators have a format that will reach a global audience and will stand the test of time. While other formats and versions come and go, MPEG-4 will safeguard multimedia content for a secure future.
And of course, resources saved in encoding, hosting, and storing media can be better used to create a wider library of digital media, which benefits the entire Internet community.
Apple developed its own ISO-compliant MPEG-4 video codec to provide the highest quality results across a wide spectrum of data rates – from narrowband to broadband and beyond. This revolutionary codec offers compression times and video quality that rival those of the best proprietary codecs available, yet it provides true interoperability with other MPEG-4 players and devices.
The QuickTime MPEG-4 codec leverages many advances in technology to provide superior performance. For example, the codec provides rate control—the encoder can be set to a target data rate that ensures playback at the appropriate data rate for a particular delivery mechanism. The versatile encoder can use the single-pass variable bit rate (VBR) rate controller either to maximize accuracy for the highest-quality output or to maximize speed for the fastest possible encode. In addition, the QuickTime MPEG-4 codec features rigorous color management, a motion estimator optimized for both precision and speed, and a high-performance quantizer. The decoder also provides an optimized post-processing stage to remove coding artifacts. Both the encoder and decoder are heavily optimized for both the 64-bit G5 and the G4 Velocity Engine, with additional decoder optimizations implemented for G3 systems.
Visit our MPEG-4 Video Gallery.
Q: How can I play back MPEG-4-encoded videos? Can I also play them back with Windows Media Player?