WebM vs. H.264

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Google’s announcement that Chrome would no longer be supporting H.264 as a web video codec, making room for WebM, their own open source, royalty free codec called VP8. Many are unhappy with this news, since it will make it initially more difficult to publish a video on the web that is viewable in any browser on any computer. Many browsers are already supporting VP8, and others using Safari and IE will have to install plugins for the content to be available. There is speculation that web video publishers may turn back to Flash in the interim while VP8 support becomes more universal. But Flash is clunky on mobile devices, and there’s been a big push for HTML5.

Aside from compatibility issues, we are also concerned about quality. So, I decided to load VP8 on our computers, and check it out. Here are the results of my preliminary test, using comparable settings in both codecs.

H.264, 1000kbps, Multi-Pass, 1.7MB

VP8, 1000kbps, 2-Pass, 3.1MB

The differences are extremely slight. It looks like VP8’s color is a little richer, with slightly fewer compression artifacts, but really it’s nothing drastic. VP8 is almost twice as large at H.264, which was surprising.