I was stunned this morning to find out about AVC levels (H264/MPEG-4 AVC). Basically, when you encode a video using the popular H264 codec for the video stream, a flag is set by the encoder called the “level”. Wikipedia says that the particular level is a specified set of constraints indicating a degree of required decoder performance for a profile. The problem I’ve with this is: some software and equipment to limit their own capabilities predicated on that level! They check the level, and if the value doesn’t please them, they refuse to attempt to play the video even.
What is this all about? See, I had formed two MP4 videos. You might play fine on my iPhone, the other refused to play (iTunes refused to duplicate it into my collection, declaring that my iPhone did not support the video format). I inspected both data files with MediaInfo, they were both encoded properly with AVC (H264), and AAC audio, similar bitrates, same resolution.
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After hours of screening and research I stumbled upon this blog post. THEREFORE I by hand edited my video using some hex editor, arranged the “level” byte from 51 to 31, and voila: the video played fine on my iPhone. I found out a nifty little Windows application which allows me to set the particular level: H264 Level Editor.
Easy to use, this program will the work, and more. Make sure to online backup your data files before placing the known level. Problem is, I have a huge selection of videos that I need to edit out. And because the videos are on my web servers, A solution is needed by me that operates under Linux. I missed anything like this. I expected MP4Box to have the ability to achieve this, or ffmpeg, but since this is a downright “hack” (workaround) these commendable applications won’t help – at they’ll only re-encode the videos which will take hours. Since I missed any program that would do it, I programmed a simple PHP library that can do the job.
Again, all it does is detect the flag from your video document and read or arranged the “level” byte. Download the collection from Filetrip (Free. Use it at the own risks! This isn’t guaranteed to focus on all videos, though it has been examined by me with over 100 videos and it always worked fine. Maybe I was lucky, anyhow DO regress to something easier your files before by using this.
Using it couldn’t be simpler. You can find no particular requirements, pHP 5 and higher just. That’s all there is to it really. If you want an iOS suitable video, arranged the particular level to 31, since that’s what it takes. Anything higher won’t work. Lower profile levels should work, but 31 seems to do just fine. I have no idea what level is recommended for the PS3 but I know Sony’s been using the same practices (31 should work for the PS3 Perhaps).
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