H264 vs MPEG-2 Quality

I recently produced a webinar for Broadcast Engineering Magazine where I compared the quality of the same test footage encoded using the H.264 and MPEG-2 codecs. Since most production encoding in the broadcast space is live, I used encoding using constant bit rate encoding and limited both codecs to the Main profile, since not all playback devices support the high profile. I encoded all test files using Sorenson Squeeze 7.

Here are the frames that I showed in the presentation. Click each figure to view the full resolution frame.

MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 5 Mbps

Low motion - very little difference in quality.

5-10 david cbr_.jpg

High motion - MPEG-2 gets very blocky, even at twice the data rate of H.264.


MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 4 Mbps

MPEG-2 has better detail retention (see the man's face), but is much blockier. Most viewers would still likely prefer H.264 though. Don't mind the captions, these files were encoded using the main profile and CBR also.


MPEG-2 at 10 Mbps, H.264 @ 2 Mbps

At 20% the bitrate of MPEG-2, we've probably crossed the Rubicon, and MPEG-2 is superior. Don't mind the captions, these files were encoded using the main profile and CBR also.


Comments (8)

arshad pirzada
Said this on 4-29-2013 At 02:45 pm

Pictures shown with MPEG-2 10 Mbps and h 264 5Mbps are almost similar. Does this mean that in TV broadcasting one can almost accomodate twice the audio/video programs with h 264 compression.

Said this on 8-14-2013 At 10:09 am

What resolution and codec was the original footage?

Said this on 8-18-2013 At 08:14 am
It was delivered to me as 1080p ProRes in a QuickTime wrapper.
Said this on 10-25-2013 At 05:20 am

Is it possible to unwrap a .mov file fron final cut into pinnacle studio 16?

Said this on 3-20-2014 At 02:28 pm

very good info


David Horne
Said this on 9-26-2014 At 09:27 pm

Thank you ! You answered quite a few questions I had.

Said this on 9-28-2014 At 11:53 am


Glad you found it useful. 


Said this on 1-7-2015 At 10:09 am


i have in blackmagic design -> pal -> 10 bit YUV -> 4x3 setting sequence. my  video files is FUll HD. When i  export my  videos to h.264 like this parameters http://postimg.org/image/gvf2c0g8b/

after exporting my  video became a blured. maybe i  choose wrong setting?

thanks in advance.

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