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MPEG
Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2004 

Short for Moving Picture Experts Group, and pronounced m-peg, a working group of ISO. The term also refers to the family of digital video compression standards and file formats developed by the group. MPEG generally produces better-quality video than competing formats, such as Video for Windows, Indeo and QuickTime. MPEG files can be decoded by special hardware or by software.

MPEG achieves high compression rate by storing only the changes from one frame to another, instead of each entire frame. The video information is then encoded using a technique called DCT. MPEG uses a type of lossy compression, since some data is removed. But the diminishment of data is generally imperceptible to the human eye.

There are three major MPEG standards: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4.

  • The most common implementations of the MPEG-1 standard provide a video resolution of 352-by-240 at 30 frames per second (fps). This produces video quality slightly below the quality of conventional VCR videos.
  • MPEG-2 offers resolutions of 720x480 and 1280x720 at 60 fps, with full CD-quality audio. This is sufficient for all the major TV standards, including NTSC, and even HDTV. MPEG-2 is used by DVD-ROMs. MPEG-2 can compress a 2 hour video into a few gigabytes. While decompressing an MPEG-2 data stream requires only modest computing power, encoding video in MPEG-2 format requires significantly more processing power.
  • MPEG-4 is a graphics and video compression algorithm standard that is based on MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 and Apple QuickTime technology. Wavelet-based MPEG-4 files are smaller than JPEG or QuickTime files, so they are designed to transmit video and images over a narrower bandwidth and can mix video with text, graphics and 2-D and 3-D animation layers. MPEG-4 was standardized in October 1998 in the ISO/IEC document 14496.

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For internet.com pages about MPEG . Also check out the following links!

Related Links

Byte article on how the Internet will replace broadcasting 
A February 1996 article that discusses ISDN and MPEG mechanics as handled via Internet Web servers.

The Audio and Video Compression Page
Good collection of links to technical MPEG and JPEG FAQs, as well as audio and video compression information and an introduction to wavelets.

Video on the Web
Discusses on-the-fly video delivery and the necessary compromises. Includes links to more information about MPEG and the advantages and disadvantes of streaming video.

Yahoo!'s MPEG page
Yahoo!'s directory of MPEG.

related categories

Audio

Data Compression

Video Formats

related terms

AAC

B-frame

codec

data compression

decoder

DVD

DVD-ROM

DVI

fps / FPS

I-frame

Indeo

JPEG

MP3

MPEG-21

MPEG-4

P-frame

QuickTime

ripper

transcoding

video editing

wavelet


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