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Old 15th December 2008, 17:13   #1  |  Link
Mikel
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Comparison x264 to Mainconcept H.264/AVC Pro

Hello

I recently stumbled over the Homepage of Mainconcept and I was wondering how to justify a steep price tag for their H.264/AVC Pro Codec.
I have used x264 for all my encoding needs and I was always pleased with the results.
I know there is a comparision but when I searched the forum, I got the impression that with the introduction of AQ, this old comparision is not fair anymore.

So what's the deal with the Mainconcept codec?
Is is much faster, or better quality, what does the customer get for the money?

It's not that I would consider buying it, just wondering how it compares.

Best, Mikel
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Old 15th December 2008, 17:33   #2  |  Link
refulgentis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikel View Post
Hello

I recently stumbled over the Homepage of Mainconcept and I was wondering how to justify a steep price tag for their H.264/AVC Pro Codec.
I have used x264 for all my encoding needs and I was always pleased with the results.
I know there is a comparision but when I searched the forum, I got the impression that with the introduction of AQ, this old comparision is not fair anymore.

So what's the deal with the Mainconcept codec?
Is is much faster, or better quality, what does the customer get for the money?

It's not that I would consider buying it, just wondering how it compares.

Best, Mikel
This comparison was done just a month ago: http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.ph...ht=mainconcept, so I assume you're not referring to that as an old comparison
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Old 15th December 2008, 20:48   #3  |  Link
Mikel
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Thanks for that link.
Very interesting thread indeed.

best Mikel
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Old 15th December 2008, 21:27   #4  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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The quality of an encoder is pretty much unrelated to its price tag these days.
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Old 16th December 2008, 01:11   #5  |  Link
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Dark Shikari my last test showed comparable Speeds by Elecards last Encoder with almost the same settings speed seems identical now to X264 (SATD vs Subme 3), but i didn't test @ full feature set more balanced for both.
It also seems that Mainconcepts DivX based Encoder Alpha 1 is far far far away from Elecards Speed the whole tuning of it seems much more unbalanced also tried with newer SDK 7.5 core and with DivX Console Encoder it's still utterly slow compared to Elecards Dshow Encoder.
Somehow that is surprising i thought after Mainconcept bought Elecard they would use most of their Codebase but somehow the Speed difference is much to off they still seem to be differently developed or DivX Alpha1 Console Encoder tuning incorporates RD in every level aqo 0,1,2, but even then the Speed difference still would be huge compared to Elecards Encoder @ the same RC and Partition settings.

Mainconcept 2008 Encoder = 7.5.0.35746
Elecard 2008 Encoder = 1.1.013409.080703

Though as soon as RD comes into play Elecards Encoder gets slower then X264, so i guess your graphic was a (ultra compression) RD compare only right ?
The most difference i saw Visually for the speed compare where of AQ vs non AQ nature in X264 that saved some of the background grain @ the same AVG bitrate Elecards result looked again like many times before artificial (those super clean non noise (lifeless) backgrounds, where film grain should have been visible and for X264 indeed it is visible even @ that low bitrate) AVG bitrate was 1 mbit with max 3 mbit @ 1280x528 23.976.

DivX current Alpha1 Tuning (7.3.0.4270 2007-12-12) seems much to slow (or even Mainconcepts whole Encoder) i get a much better Visual result @ 2x more speed with X264 even without using any RD @ all, for Elecards Encoder it looks different it's only slow @ RD but before that it seems comparable though the subjective quality is not as good (i still heavily suspect the missing complexity masking as Psy feature is the cause for this Visual difference and maybe some kind of other quantization way going on in Elecards Encoder).
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Last edited by CruNcher; 16th December 2008 at 02:13.
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Old 16th December 2008, 11:08   #6  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruNcher View Post
DivX current Alpha1 Tuning (7.3.0.4270 2007-12-12) seems much to slow (or even Mainconcepts whole Encoder) i get a much better Visual result @ 2x more speed with X264 even without using any RD @ all, for Elecards Encoder it looks different it's only slow @ RD but before that it seems comparable though the subjective quality is not as good (i still heavily suspect the missing complexity masking as Psy feature is the cause for this Visual difference and maybe some kind of other quantization way going on in Elecards Encoder).
No ... Produce exactly the same quality and speed with the same setting here (on c2d 4400).
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Old 16th December 2008, 14:28   #7  |  Link
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@Sagittaire
maybe Adaptive B-frames and Scenecut slowdown DivX Encoder that massively (Mainconcept) as i tested X264 and Elecard without any Scenecut and Adaptive b-frames (Broadcast Scenario)
Parkrun though shows very clearly that the missing Psy is disastrous as their RC doesn't compensate it (DivX Encoder in anyway fails there,blurs out the moving background trees) same for Elecard it's lost there only Ateme and X264 master it though i know that at least Elecard can do better with complexity masking there. Ateme doesn't need any AQ @ all for that Scene their RC (lookahead) is handling it completely without any need from AQ.
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Last edited by CruNcher; 16th December 2008 at 14:44.
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Old 16th December 2008, 23:37   #8  |  Link
Sagittaire
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Originally Posted by CruNcher View Post
@Sagittaire
maybe Adaptive B-frames and Scenecut slowdown DivX Encoder that massively (Mainconcept) as i tested X264 and Elecard without any Scenecut and Adaptive b-frames (Broadcast Scenario)
Parkrun though shows very clearly that the missing Psy is disastrous as their RC doesn't compensate it (DivX Encoder in anyway fails there,blurs out the moving background trees) same for Elecard it's lost there only Ateme and X264 master it though i know that at least Elecard can do better with complexity masking there. Ateme doesn't need any AQ @ all for that Scene their RC (lookahead) is handling it completely without any need from AQ.

Well DivX encoder don't use FGO or AQ but it's just CLI limitation. These setting are here in the binary. I make proposition at DivX Labs for better quality witn Mainconcept/Elecard SDK:

Quote:
I made test with your DivX H.264 Encoder Alpha 1. I have similar result for quality and speed with my previous test with Mainconcept/Elecard Encoder. Anyway your encoder is really not complete:

1) Quality profil are too restrictive:
5 or 6 profils for quality will be really better: fastest, fast, normal, good, best and insane for example or [0-5] for aqo.

2) Psy optimisation:
There are possible and very usefull psy optimisation with Mainconcept H264 SDK. Film grain optimisation [0-100], AQ with luma masking [-100;100], AQ with contrast masking [-100;100], AQ with complexity masking [-100;100].
Why not to implement this command: -psy <AQLuma>, <AQContrast>, <AQDetail>, <FGO>
My prefered setting for MC SDK is -psy 33,-33,-33,50

3) Buffer and Max rate
With this command line for example -vbv <maxbitrate>,<buffer>
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Old 17th December 2008, 07:08   #9  |  Link
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Im really surprised that AQ and FGO are in the SDK but neither available in Mainconcepts Reference Encoder GUI (which is for Prosumer) nor since ECS 3.0 anymore in Elecards GUI, i really would like to know what reason was behind that decision on the first look it makes no real sense @ all to remove those PSY features as they worked fine. Especially compared to how Ateme handles certain situations with their lookahead RC alone neither MC nor Elecard have this capability so AQ becomes essential to compensate this problematic scenes same as for X264 and they remove it ?.
Yeah i hope as much as you that we gonna see a comeback of these PSY features with DivX final Encoder though im confident we will as DivX want's to provide something of quality to their Average User community and these Psy features are essential for most that automatically of course is gonna trigger a chain reaction @ Elecards and Mainconcepts Prosumer customers that gonna ask themselves why does DivX has those features but we not and so finally it will come back in every Product.
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Last edited by CruNcher; 17th December 2008 at 07:31.
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Old 17th December 2008, 08:13   #10  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruNcher
Im really surprised that AQ and FGO are in the SDK but neither available in Mainconcepts Reference Encoder GUI (which is for Prosumer) nor since ECS 3.0 anymore in Elecards GUI, i really would like to know what reason was behind that decision on the first look it makes no real sense @ all to remove those PSY features as they worked fine.
Yes it's really strange, perhaps it did not sufficiently tested, or they can't find default values like x264 does AQ 1.0, Psyrdo 1.0,0
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Old 17th December 2008, 08:25   #11  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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Originally Posted by shon3i View Post
Yes it's really strange, perhaps it did not sufficiently tested, or they can't find default values like x264 does AQ 1.0, Psyrdo 1.0,0
Or they're still optimizing exclusively for PSNR...
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Old 17th December 2008, 09:34   #12  |  Link
Sagittaire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruNcher View Post
Im really surprised that AQ and FGO are in the SDK but neither available in Mainconcepts Reference Encoder GUI (which is for Prosumer) nor since ECS 3.0 anymore in Elecards GUI, i really would like to know what reason was behind that decision on the first look it makes no real sense @ all to remove those PSY features as they worked fine. Especially compared to how Ateme handles certain situations with their lookahead RC alone neither MC nor Elecard have this capability so AQ becomes essential to compensate this problematic scenes same as for X264 and they remove it ?.
Yeah i hope as much as you that we gonna see a comeback of these PSY features with DivX final Encoder though im confident we will as DivX want's to provide something of quality to their Average User community and these Psy features are essential for most that automatically of course is gonna trigger a chain reaction @ Elecards and Mainconcepts Prosumer customers that gonna ask themselves why does DivX has those features but we not and so finally it will come back in every Product.
Avalaible command for the SDK 7.5.0.35746

PrintProgress CalcQuality EncodingBuffering Buffering LiveMode NumThreads CpuOpt PicNumOffset FrameMBsMode Log2MaxFrameNum Log2MaxPOC WritePPS WriteSPS WriteSingleSEI WriteTS WriteEOS WriteAUD AnnexB StreamType NumUnitsInTick TimeScale PAR_Height PAR_Width SAR_Height SAR_Width SAR_IDC VUIFlags BlackLevel DenoiseStrengthC DenoiseStrengthY Lambda FGOStrength GrainOptimization QuantOptimization FastSBME FastMRME FastInterDecision FastIntraDecision HadamardTransform InsaneRDO EnableRDO OffsetsMatrixFile UseOffsetsMatrix ScalingMatrixFile UseScalingMatrix BetaOffset AlphaC0Offset DeblockMode EnableInter_PCM EnableInter_4x4 EnableInter_8x8 EnableInter_16x16 EnableIntra_PCM EnableIntra_4x4 EnableIntra_8x8 EnableIntra_16x16 ConstrainedME OutOfPicMVs SearchRange MaxRefIdxL1Minus1 MaxRefIdxL0Minus1 NumRefFrames WeightedBiPred WeightedPred SubBlockMode SubPelMode EnableME Pass StatFile MaskingStrength MaskingType CpbRemovalDelay CpbFullnessUnits CpbFullnessTarget CpbFullness CpbSize HssRate UseVclHRD UseNalHRD AvgBitrate CrOffset CbOffset QuantMax QuantMin QuantB QuantP QuantI RCMode IDRPeriod AdaptiveB EnableSCD PyramidCoding BFramesReference BFramesCount MinIntraPeriod MaxIntraPeriod SliceArgument SliceMode TopFieldFirst InterlaceMode LosslessCompression TransformType EntropyMode ChromaFormat Level Profile ColorSpace Height Width FramesCount StartFrame StatFileName ConfigFileName ReconstFileName TargetFileName SourceFileName


There are other really interessing new command too:
- BlackLevel DenoiseStrengthC DenoiseStrength (psy pre-process?)
- Lambda (for rdo?)
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Old 18th December 2008, 19:27   #13  |  Link
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Somehow that is surprising i thought after Mainconcept bought Elecard they would use most of their Codebase but somehow the Speed difference ....
Please read this news: http://elecard.com/news/news_arch.php?nid=148 and this: http://elecard.com/news/news_arch.php?nid=161

All of the above G4 codecs are based on completely new engines.
And AQ will be add in CS 3.1 (with AVC encoder 1.2.xxx)
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Old 18th December 2008, 20:48   #14  |  Link
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So does that actually means Elecard is the Core R&D part of Mainconcept and all enhancements will get @ later time into Mainconcepts Products (even SDK) (after stability is evaluated) ?

@Dark Shikari
is it possible to change a 10 step start Quantization difference between BR and CRF where is the Start QP difference defined in the RC ?
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Old 18th December 2008, 22:03   #15  |  Link
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So does that actually means Elecard is the Core R&D part of Mainconcept and all enhancements will get @ later time into Mainconcepts Products (even SDK) (after stability is evaluated) ?
This means that there is no relationship between these two companies for more than a year, i.e. each company has its own products - codecs, applications and everything else.
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Old 18th December 2008, 22:49   #16  |  Link
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Ahh that explains a lot so no newer Research of Elecard will be used inside the Final DivX Encoder actually then ?

http://mirror05.x264.nl/CruNcher/for...4-balanced.mp4
http://mirror05.x264.nl/CruNcher/for...rk/divx-mc.mp4
http://mirror05.x264.nl/CruNcher/for...rk/elecard.mp4


Encoding Time:

Encoding Time:
X264 = 0:21s
DivX = 1:03m
Elecard = 1:07m


can't wait to see the complexity masking results (again) though the speed isn't really that good i try to tweak on that a little more but without AQ it will fail here anyways
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Last edited by CruNcher; 19th December 2008 at 00:18.
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Old 18th December 2008, 23:05   #17  |  Link
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Quality drop at 4s is very bad. Let's wait for updated elcard encoder.
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Old 18th December 2008, 23:23   #18  |  Link
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yep you can clearly see how the bitrate jumps down like in a roller coaster
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Old 18th December 2008, 23:24   #19  |  Link
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Oh dear, it seems they really need to work on their ratecontrol.

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Old 18th December 2008, 23:29   #20  |  Link
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i have to lough a little seeing that screenshot *gigles* (for everyone else that's a insider) how ironic that is
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