Last update : September 16, 2013
To create and modify MPEG-4 Multimedia files, you need different MPEG-4 tools, e.g. an encoder, a multiplexer and a packager :
MPEG-4 Tools : Video encoder
x264 (Wikipedia) is a free software library (libx264) and application (x264.exe) for encoding video streams into the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format, and is released under the terms of the GNU GPL. X264 provides best-in-class performance, compression, and features, gives the best quality and has the most advanced psychovisual optimizations. A comparison with other H264 codecs is available at the MSU Graphics & Media Lab (Video Group) of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The leader in this comparison for software encoders is x264, followed by MainConcept, DivX H.264 and Elecard.
X264.exe is a command line tool. A typical command to enter in the Command Prompt Window looks as follows :
x264.exe --crf 18 --ref 3 --bframes 2 --subme 3 --keyint 100 --sar 1:1 --output %1.mkv %1
All available parameters can be listed with the command x264 –fullhelp. The purpose and use of all x264 settings is also explained on the MeWiki website.
The fourcc code of the X264 codec is X264.
MPEG-4 Tools : Multiplexer
To encode videos, x264 is not sufficient. Audio, subtitles and metadata should be added, and all these data need to be multiplexed. Therefore other tools are needed. FFmpeg is one of these tools. FFmpeg is a free software project that produces libraries and programs for handling multimedia data. It includes libavcodec, the leading audio/video codec library and libavformat, an audio/video container mux and demux library. FFmpeg is published under the GNU Lesser General Public License 2.1+ or GNU General Public License 2+, depending on which options are enabled. The ffmpeg component is a command-line tool to convert one video file format to another. X264 is added as an external library to FFmpeg. Zeranoe has great static builds of FFmpeg for Windows with libx264 included. Other useful external libraries are the Fraunhofer AAC library for AAC encoding and the LAME library for MP3 encoding.
A very comprehensive documentation about ffmpeg , the libraries, utilities and tools is available at the FFmpeg website.
MPEG-4 Tools : Packager
A third command-line tool performing some manipulations on ISO media files like mp4 is MP4Box, the multimedia packager from GPAC (Project on Advanced Content). Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) is one example. GPAC officially started as an open-source project in 2003 with the initial goal to develop from scratch, in ANSI C, clean software compliant to the MPEG-4 Systems standard, a small and flexible alternative to the MPEG-4 reference software. The GPAC framework is being developed at École nationale supérieure des télécommunications (ENST) as part of research work on digital media. A general documentation about MP4Box is available at the GPAC website.
MP4Box is a command-line tool, the following GUI’s are available :
- MeGUI, by several authors (version 2356, released on June 8, 2013)
- My MP4Box GUI, by Matthew Bodin (version 0.6.0.6, released on January 4, 2013)
- Java MP4Box Gui, by Rune André Liland (version 1.7, released on May 18, 2013)
- Yamb, by kurtnoise version 126.96.36.199 beta 2, released on June 29, 2009)
The following list provides links to additional posts about MPEG-4 tools :
- MPEG-4 Part 2 and Part 10
- Video X264 encoding
- AVC (H264) video settings
- FFmpeg : record, convert and stream audio and video
- FFmpeg formats and codecs
- FFmpeg scripts
- MPEG-4 containers : mp4, m4a, m4p, m4v
- ISMA, MPEGIF, OIPF, HbbTV, Xiph
- Smart editing of MPEG-4/H264 videos
- Indexing (MOOV atom) in H264 videos
- Crop or padd a video