I’m proud to announce my latest book, Video Encoding by the Numbers, Eliminate the Guesswork from your Streaming Video, which is available now on Amazon. You can read all about the book by clicking here, or click here for a detailed table of contents.
Briefly, after introductory chapters get you up to speed and familiar with objective quality metrics, the next chapters focus on key encoding decisions like resolution/data rate, bitrate control techniques, and I-, B-, P- and reference frame settings, using objective benchmarks like PSNR and SSIMplus to identify the highest quality alternatives.
The three chapters do the same for key configuration decisions for H.264, HEVC, and VP9. The next three help you identify the best adaptive bitrate (ABR) technology for your targets, how to build your encoding ladder and how to actually encode, package, and test your ABR streams. The last chapter describes what per-title encoding is, why it’s important, and different alternatives for implementing it.
The book has 16 chapters, 330 pages, with full-color graphics and a comprehensive index; the full color pushed the price to $49.95, but it helps so much with data visualization as you can see below.
What’s in it for you?
– Detailed encoding recommendations for H.264, VP9, and HEVC, all supported by objective quality data, so you can quickly produce the highest quality video at the lowest possible data rate.
– Tutorials on how to produce your optimized encoding ladder for HLS and DASH, and tutorials on how to encode and package your files with FFmpeg, MP4Box, and the Apple suite of HLS tools.
– Extensive descriptions of technologies like HTML5, DASH, and HLS, so you’ll know what you’re doing when you actually deploy them.
– Researched-based recommendations on decisions like VBR vs. CBR, and the optimal segment size for your ABR video.
– Instruction on how to run your own quality tests so you don’t have to rely on my numbers.
Overall, the ability to base your critical technology and configuration decisions on facts and data, rather than scattered opinions from around the web.
Why this Book?
Why did I write this book? Around two years ago, I fell in love with objective quality benchmarking, which delivered the ability to quantify all encoding-related decisions. There’s so much total BS floating around on the web describing which encoding parameters deliver which results, and the ability to quickly and easily use Peak Signal-to-Noise (PSNR) or SSIMplus or other benchmarks to objectify these decisions was highly attractive to my borderline OCD personality. After all, why say that 200% constrained VBR delivers “better” quality than CBR when you can measure it with eight different files and say “200% constrained VBR delivers, on average, about 12% better quality than the lowest quality alternative at 1080p, and 10% better at 720p.” Note that different tests performed using Charles Proxy showed that 200% contrained VBR can present some signficant deliverability issues as well, which you can learn in the book.
Anyway, after my first taste with the Moscow State University Video Quality Measurement Tool, and later work with the SSIMWave Quality of Experience Monitor, I started basing all my consulting projects on these test results, and all my presentations, product reviews and related work.
Soon thereafter, I started writing this book. I quickly realized that one test file wouldn’t do, I needed multiple files to represent the type of work that encoding professionals perform in corporate America, colleges and universities, and movie and TV shops. So most tests involve the eight files shown above. Given that it’s 2017, I figured that I needed to test H.264, and also VP9 and HEVC to help producers moving on to those formats.
I realized that I needed to supply sufficient hard data for readers making configuration decisions, but also to empower those who wanted to produce their own benchmark results. So there are chapters on how to use the Moscow State University Video Quality Measurement Tool, and SSIMWave Quality of Experience Monitor, and another on how to create your test files and run your tests.
Along the way, I started encoding with FFmpeg because it was just so much more efficient than any standalone encoder, particularly when working on multiple computers. Since there wasn’t a single focused resource for how to use FFmpeg to create H.264, VP9 and HEVC files, I decided to include this instruction in the book. Not only for encoding, but for packaging HLS as well. Then, for DASH, I had to include MP4Box, and it only seemed right to include tutorials on the Apple HLS tools, Media File Segmenter, Variant Playlist Creator, Media Stream Validator. Of course, you can’t effectively encode for these formats without knowing how they work, and which format to use when, so I had to include the technical background on that.
The simple book kept growing and growing, and eighteen months later, Video Encoding by the Numbers came out. By the numbers, I mean no BS; every encoding recommendation is fully supported by rigorous test results. Hard data, not opinions.
Some books are pure hell to write, some are labors of love. This one was the latter, a book I absolutely had to write, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Buy the book on Amazon ($49.95).
(Note that a service called SendOwl will handle processing and delivery via PayPal. I know it's a leap of faith to use a new vendor, but I've delivered dozens of books with the service without any problems or complaints. If you try the service, and have a bad experience, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org)