I'm looking for some official (or semi-official) sources for using MPEG codecs. The official standards specify syntax and semantics for code streams, and do little job teaching the production community anything useful about what they specify.

Does there exist some kind of leaflets or brochures, from the MPEG work group (or a member from the WG), intended for production professionalists, the possibly include explanation for 1) profiles and levels, 2) bitrate and quality correlation, and 3) container format usage.


I take the references from Tektronix seriously in my daily work.

Amazon has a 48-page magazine-sized technical booklet from this company or you could download it from this link

Of course, this company has other references as well


The primary audience of MPEG video stream standards is developers of encoders, decoders, players, editors..etc so they won't be expected to have material teaching the production community, by which I assume you mean creatives or those working directly with creatives.

profiles and levels

This is specific to each codec, but in general, profile defines the set of encoding methods that an encoder may use e.g. macroblock partitioning, which in turn, defines the capabilities required of the decoder. Their definitions are motivated by various classes of target applications e.g. VoIP, editing, playback on a low-power device but it is upto industry to evolve usage guidelines. See this preface to the Profiles/Levels section within the AVC SPEC (14496-10):

This subclause does not form an integral part of this Recommendation | International Standard. This Recommendation | International Standard is designed to be generic in the sense that it serves a wide range of applications, bit rates, resolutions, qualities, and services. Applications should cover, among other things, digital storage media, television broadcasting and real-time communications.

So, don't expect to find a normative guide from a standards body.

bitrate and quality correlation

There isn't one. An efficient encoder will deliver a better quality for a given bitrate target than an inefficient one. In general, a well-engineered encoder will deliver better quality higher the bitrate, if keeping all syntax elements the same, as well encoder-specific coding algorithms (motion estimation, deblocking loops)..etc.

container format usage

Not the purview of the codec standards body. Containers come and go, and are designed by others. Again, it's upto the industry e.g. H.264/AVC is usually stored without in-band parameter sets in a MP4, but can be stored with them present. It's upto the "application".

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