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MPEG4 VS MP4: Know the Differences and Connections Between MPEG4 and MP4

Author by Vita

August 6, 2020

People who are new to the field of digital media may feel confused about the difference between MP4 and MPEG4 since the two terms frequently occur together, along with close connections. Is MPEG4 the same as MP4? Or what are the differences between them? Here is the comprehensive explanation of MPEG4 VS MP4.

Part 1: Is MPEG4 the Same as MP4?

MP4 is actually the abbreviation of MPEG-4 Part 14 so quite a few people may confuse MP4 and MPEG-4. However, MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a multimedia container format standard specified as only a part of MPEG-4. As a method of defining audio, videos, and other visual digital files compression, MPEG-4 is divided into a large number of parts for different implementations. Besides MPEG-4 Part 14, there are other key parts like MPEG-4 Part 2 and MPEG-4 part 10.

Due to different functionalities and definitions, obviously MP4 and MPEG4 are not the same thing. To obtain a deep understanding of MPEG4 vs MP4, the following parts explain how MP4 and MPEG4 works.

Part 2: MPEG4 VS MP4 – What Are the Differences

A compression standard is a specification to define the method of reducing data size via a specific algorithm or formula and MPEG is a well-known video/audio compression standard that standardized the MPEG-4 compression method later. And then, MPEG-4 is divided into several parts, MPEG-4 part 1, MPEG-4, part2, etc. Based on the information, you can grasp the whole story more easily.

The structure of MPEG Standards

*Cited from Leonardo Chiariglione “There is more to say about MPEG standards”

What is MPEG4? - A Compression Method

MPEG-4 appeared in late 1998. It inherited many good features from its predecessors - MPPG-1, MPEG-2 and other standards while brought new functionalities. MPEG-4 can specify a group of popular audio and video coding formats, for instance, DivX and Xvid under MPEG-4 Part 2 and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 under MPEG-4 part 10. Through adopting these video/audio coding formats, a file can be compressed to different specifications and for various usages. That is why we also describe MPEG-4 as a video coding method. Typically, the MPEG-4 compression method is used for online video/audio streaming, CDs and broadcast television applications.

What is MP4? – A Container Format

As we have mentioned in part 1, MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a multimedia container format. Literally, it wraps multiple data (videos, audio, subtitles, images) using different video/audio codecs as well as streams into a single file so that all the streams and metadata can be read by a video player for playback.

The MPEG-4 Part 14 was originally extended from MPEG-4 Part 12 based on QuickTime MOV in 2001. MPEG-4 Part 14 videos officially are with the .mp4 extension. So MPEG-4 Part 12 files also refer to MP4 videos. However, there are some MPEG-4 files using .m4p, .m4a, or .m4p extensions, as well.

Besides supporting video & audio coding algorithms of the MPEG-4 standard, for example, MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264/AVC) video codecs and MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding, it also supports other MPEG coding formats.

Part 3: MP4 VS MPEG4 - In Conclusion

MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a part of the MPEG-4 compression standard and it supports a series of MPEG coding formats and data streams, such as MPEG-H Part 2 (H.265/HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 10 (H.264/AVC) video codecs and MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding. In the same way, in addition to MP4, MPEG4 standard also applies to other video containers including MKV, AVI, ASF, 3GP, FLV, M4V, M2TS, MXF, and QTFF.  

Video container and codecs

To put it more simply, here are some instances:

Case 1. An MP4 video can be encoded with MPEG-4 H.264 video codec & AAC audio codec, subtitle, and metadata. 

Case 2. An MP4 video can be encoded with MPEG-H H.265 video codecs, MPEG-2 MP3 audio codec, subtitle, and metadata.

Case 3. MPEG-4 H.264 video codec & AAC audio codec can encode data in MKV, AVI, and more other container formats.

Now we come to the end part of the MP4 vs MPEG4 explanation. Hopefully, this post will help you get a basic understanding of the two terms. However, the MPEG group is much more complicated than we discuss today, so is the MPEG-4 standard. If you’re interested in the whole history of the MPEG group, you may visit relevant pages on Wikipedia.

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