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Note: To view this movie, you will need QuickTime 2.5 or later, the QuickTime Netscape plug-in, and the QuickTime MPEG Extension. All of these are available for free download from Apple.

MPEG-1: 320x240, 30fps, 170KBps

General Information
MPEG-1 provides excellent image quality at CD-ROM data rates. One of the most popular uses of MPEG-1 is the VCD, or "white book" video CD. MPEG includes both audio and video compression.

The biggest problem with MPEG is that it has high requirements for playback. Either a dedicated MPEG decoder card must be installed, or a high-end CPU is required for software-only playback. Because of this limitation, MPEG has not gained wide acceptance in consumer titles.

MPEG-2 is a related standard. It is used by DVD-Video and several broadcasting applications. MPEG-2 provides excellent fullscreen NTSC quality. However, playback is even more difficult than MPEG-1. There are no software-only playback solutions, and the hardware required to play MPEG-2 movies is quite expensive and rare at this point.

MPEG may be embedded in several other formats, including QuickTime. The example on this page is a QuickTime movie which includes an MPEG track.
Architectures Supported
Pros, Cons & Tips
  • Excellent image quality

  • Very high playback requirements
  • Majority of installed base not capable of viewing MPEG
  • Licensing fees (typically US $0.04 - $0.40 per unit) are required to distribute MPEG-2 video. There may also be fees for MPEG-1; there is some uncertainty regarding this.
  • Not well-suited to WWW video (the upcoming MPEG-4 standard will address this)

Ideal source material Video
Supported bit depths 24 bit
Compression time Very slow (software), realtime (hardware)
Temporal compression? Yes
Special features -
Encoder requirements Commercial encoder software and/or hardware
Decoder requirements MPEG decoder card, or 120+ Mhz PowerMac or 166+ Mhz Pentium
Encoder availability Commercially available from several companies
Decoder availability Wide range of MPEG-1 software & hardware decoders
Algorithm Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) with Motion Prediction
based on H.261
Manufacturer Many

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