H.264 is Pretty Cool

First off – sorry to all my loyal readers (I know, but at least I realize I’m delusional) that I’ve been quiet for the past week or so. I was off in Mexico with no connections whatsoever to the outside world. It was actually kind of nice… (Though I did bring my new big cat with me to play a little bit.)

So have you played with Quicktime 7 Pro or any of the cool H.264 features yet? Color me impressed! I’ve dabbled with the QT 7 Pro features a bit, but the real fun came when I pulled out HandBrake (0.7 beta 3). If you’re not familiar with HandBrake, it’s a DVD ripping app for OS X. Works very well, but takes a while. I usually use it to rip a movie or two before a plane trip. No DVDs to cart along means one less hassle and bulk in my bag.

So back to the point at hand. I ripped a movie that was 90 minutes long. I set it for the best audio and video, using the H.264 compression – obviously. While it took about 10 hours to run the rip (sheesh!) it was well worth it. So 10 hours later I had a nice 90 minute mp4 file of my DVD that I could watch in tiny mode, or full screen and the quality was the same either way! Awesome.

So any guesses to how large the file was? Anyone? Anyone? (Bueller. Bueller…) We’re talking about a full 90 minute DVD quality movie here. Drum roll please…. 700mb. That’s it! Crazy. I’m dumbfounded and so excited about this.

Ah, the possibilities. So I’ve got my 700mb movie file in mp4 format now. Guess what. I can make a BACKUP copy of my DVD if I wanted. Toss your new file into iDVD and burn yourself a copy of the movie that the kids can watch and trash while keeping the original safe and sound. I realize there are products like FastDVDCopy and Popcorn out there that already do this in basically one step. But this is a cheap, do it yourself solution if you really want it. I’m all for that. Of course I can only condone making backup copies, and not for “other use”…

So what interesting things have you found while playing with the various H.264 options available now in Tiger?

UPDATE
I just stumbled upon this great piece over at Shape of Days. It does a side by side comparison of H.264 and Sorenson 3 compression schemes. He knows what he’s talking about – much more than the “it’s cool” that I provide. Definitely go check it out!

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