H.264 encoded videos are becoming more and more common, but playing them back can be difficult if you do not have the right software installed. This guide will show you several ways of playing back H.264 content.
Most H.264 videos on the Internet use the MP4 container. They also frequently come with AAC encoded audio. This guide assumes that you have such a video file, although instructions for playing back H.264 files with other containers and audio encoded in other formats isn't too different.
What is H.264:
H.264 is a video compression standard that is set to replace MPEG-2. H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 AVC, or MPEG-4 Part 10) can offer the same quality video as MPEG-2 at only a third or half the bit-rate. What this means that by using more advanced video encoding techniques, H.264 clips are only a third or half the size of MPEG-2 clips of the same quality. Even DivX/XviD is no match for H.264 - H.264 can often be 30% smaller than DivX/XviD and still offer the same quality video.
H.264 has already been choosen as the format for next generation video systems such as high definition DVD, as high definition MPEG-2 requires storage spaces that even high definition DVD find hard to offer.
Free H.264 encoders such as x264 have allowed the average user to start encoding H.264 content on their own computers, and so there are more and more H.264 encoded content available to download on the Internet.
This guide covers several ways in which you can playback H.264 content. The methods covered are:
ffdshow (Media Player Classic or Windows Media Player)
You will only need one of these methods to playback H.264 encoded video - the methods above have been listed in the order that you should attempt playback (the easiest/most common solutions at the top).