Superior H.264 Codec Now The 'Official' Standard Among Popular Piracy Groups

Apparently, piracy groups get together periodically to discuss the finer points of their escapades. Who knew? At the latest gathering of the piracy world's lords and ladies, they decided to promote the x264 codec for TV encoding duties over the venerable XviD. The move has caused a rather vocal response from their consumers.

Don't believe me? Well, they put it all in what I can only describe as an official document, detailing exactly how standard definition TV shows should be disseminated to the public. It was put together, and supported by, 13 release groups, including "LOL", "ASAP" and "LMAO". It describes the "TV-XviD" world as "ruleless", though apart from the guidelines in the scene document, it's hard to know what rules any pirate follows — moral, ethical, legal or otherwise.

A bit of background: The x264 codec is based on H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and is in many ways vastly superior to the XviD, which follows the MPEG-4 standard. It's been shown time and again that H.264 consistently produces higher quality video at lower bitrates than straight MPEG-4. Hardware and software support for H.264 is pretty good now, so it makes sense from a technical standpoint to use it over the various MPEG-4 codecs if you can. x264 is an open source implementation of H.264, with XviD being the popular free option for MPEG-4.

That's pretty much the angle the scene document takes justifying the change: "Compared to XviD, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at greater SD resolutions ... There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4."

According to TorrentFreak, the switch to x264 has not gone down well. Reading over the various complaints, many downloaders aren't fans of the MP4 container format, which reportedly doesn't mix well with some devices.

All I can say is — it had to happen eventually. I don't think anyone would shine to the idea of downloading shows encoded with Cinepak.




    that explains why im seeing everything pop up as .mp4 instead of the usual avi that i saw

    I was wondering what the “LOL”, “ASAP” and “LMAO” was all about, whenever I downloaded a TV show... :)

      Typical ignorant leech.

        i bet u have a lot of friends

          Hating ignorant people on the Internet has no effect on my social life in the real world.

        Give me just one reason why it matters if someone doesn't care about what "scene group" ripped their TV show? Because you realise that's all this is, right? Uploads of TV shows. Nothing you've said here anywhere matters, it's just whiny trolling from a bored teenager.

        It doesn't suit you, princess.

          Ignorant, lazy and incorrect media "matters" to me. Btw, I wish I was a teenager.

        I know the scene group names, but I leech, I wouldn't if Bigpond didn't count uploads but if I seeded a 1gb movie it turns into a 2gb movie and I don't want that.

        I don't have limitless uplaods with my IP to put into feeding torrents, so if that makes me a leach, then so be it...

    Yet another FAIL article by Gizmodo, scene groups are NOT 'torrent groups'. Educate yourself before posting rubbish, please.


      settle down mate, whats with all the hostility. just relax

        Technically he is right though, this really has nothing to do with torrents other than the fact that people take releases from the group FTP servers, then release them on usenet, then other people take them from usenet and create torrents.

          Technically, he's wrong though: It was never claimed ONCE in this article that scene = torrents, just TorrentFreak users were crying.


            Actually the orginal title said "torrent groups", these aren't torrent groups they are scene.

        @ Corey. dude your embarrassing trolls everywhere.

        Calling Gizmodo a "fail" makes you sound like a 12 year old. Seriously your just embarrassing yourself, your year 6 classmates. God forbid your mother finds out your talking trash on the internet.

        Though I've got a bad feeling your next troll is going to use a derogatory sexually laced insults about homosexuality and testicles.

        Now a list of words that rhythm with Corey:

        Gory. Story. Allegory. Montessori

          You attack my maturity only to resort to name calling. Good work champ.

      I think some people just like to rage about small details. Thanks though Spool for being mature about it.

      That said, I'll take it on the chin. I've replaced "torrent" with "piracy", which I think is accurate.

        Deleting criticism now hey? Yep that's a sure fire way to improve. Good work.

          I think you'll find that that called fixing the reason for said criticism.
          It's a phenomenon that makes your computer run better, and your car more efficient.

            No, he deleted one of my posts.

              Ahhh. It happens to all the douchebags. Get over it.

      Agree - i have been downloading for 15 years and have never heard of these groups - they deffinatly not "Scene" groups. And have not seen an increase in the x264 codecs releases.
      I think the story should be - a group of nobodies met with other groups of nobodies and discussed matters that affect them and no one else.

        you've never heard of "LOL"? Go back to Limewire.

    I for one like it. Smaller file size by 100mb for a 45 min show, and /slightly/ higher resolution.
    It means my linux distros look awesome.....

    Why all the fuss about missing AVI? Just download the smaller and better quality MP4 and then convert to the crappy old-school AVI at your leisure. Problem solved.

    Someone has to keep the Pirate's Code up to date, and the're more guidelines than actual rules...

    The quality difference is very evident. Would happily prefer to download in MP4.
    Not that hard to find a program that can play MP4 these days and if you can't there's plenty of programs to convert it.

      Heh, If people are not using VLC for all their video needs then I really think they shouldn't be torrenting =P

        I use 7MC... But it works flawlessly. As it should.

        I dont... I use the K-lite codec pack... for all my home movie.... sharing. ;)

        Why would you watch TV shows and movies on your computer instead of the TV they were made for?

          Because we can connect our computers to our tv's and watch whatever we want, when we want, no ads, pause, play, etc and no BS! Welcome to 2009!

        Actually I think if people ARE using VLC for video playback they shouldn't be downloading stuff. I wasn't aware anyone used that rubbish anymore, when there are so many more better options.

          VLC 2.0 has won me back. Give it a shot! :--]

    Last time i checked PS3 and XBOX360 didnt playback H264 directly. You have to stream it through a service on your PC first. Let me know if im wrong.

    So this means I won't have to convert the stuff to put on my iPod? Yippeeeee

    What I find amusing is how various scenes still produce movies to fit on a CD.
    Some still do a 1.4GB movie split in two to fit on two CD's.

      Yeah, that was really useful back in 2001 when I only had a 40gig hard drive but a little bit redundant now..

    I refuse to download any thing that uses .mkv for I have never ever got anything that uses it to playback properly - typical issue audio out of sync by 1-10 seconds, atypical problem frozen torn picture or many skipped frames. All of it on a mid-range gaming PC.

      Are you running VLC though? I'm running 1080p mkv's streamed to a Boxee Box across a network from a slow NAS, and it runs perfectly.

      I actively look for .mkv, although I don't watch stuff on my PC, I stream them to my telly through my WDTV Live (previously PS3, until Cinavia put a stop to that) but it plays .mkv files great, full res, and with multi channel sound (although I need a newer receiver/amp to take advantage of this)

      These don't use MKV.

        Here-Here !!! MKV for the win... get WDTV live, best invention ever !!!

      I use Media Player Classing (packaged in the K-Lite codec pack) and everything runs a dream. If you are having audio and visual issues with a decent spec pc, its a os or hardware issue, most definitely not an issue with the file type.

      I have been viewing 720/1080p mkv content using first gen Core2Duo when they came out 5+ years ago combined with a low end nvidia card and no issues whatsoever.

      thankyou! I freakin' hate MKV. Apparently it's so 'open' and 'standard' that in order to play it you need to download specific players, and it doesn't work with anything else. Yeah great job guys. Just gimme mp4

    It's worth pointing out that two prominent groups, FQM and 2HD, are sticking to the old standard, due to the fact that (a) partial MP4 files can't be played back, meaning no streaming, and (b) H.264 is not compatible with a lot of standalone players.

    While I generally prefer x264, I will gladly stick to the XviD releases if it means I never have to watch another shitty ASAP release again.

    It is so obvious. Apple devices cannot play AVI, they can play MP4. Thats it. Simple as that.

    h264 wins, avi was always rubbish!

    I'm surprised it took this long. Xvid is a relic of the 90s.

    And MP4 contained videos can definitely be streamed if they are encoded properly.

    To clear up a bit of confisuion,

    The file extensions mp3, avi, mov, mp4, mkv, and divx are containers (think envelopes) and help multimedia players know about the audio and video streams contained within. Refer to They don't define the audio/video size or quality, but in some cases only support a limited number of codecs.

    .avi has been around for donkeys years and has problems (B-Frames, Variable bit-rate) with newer codecs.

    .divx overcame many of th problems associated with .avi.

    .mp4 is best known as the format that Apple uses in the iTunes store, superseding .mov, and supports only one audio stream

    .mkv is considered to be the latest and greatest as it supports virtually any number of video/audio codecs/streams.

    Refer to for more details

    MP3 (MPEG-2 Audio Layer III), AC-3 (Dolby Digital), DTS, DivX, XviD, MPEG-2, H264, are audio and video codecs (code/decode) and is what influences file size and audio/video quality. Refer to

    MPEG-2 is best know for it's use by DVDs, but was also used for Digital Broadcast Television.

    DivX and XviD played their role in the days of compressing MPEG-2 DVD to CD-R sizes (700 Mb). The later versions follow MPEG-4 ( XviD is the 'open source' alternative to DivX which is privately owned.

    H264 MPEG-4 Part 10 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) ( is the latests and greatest video codec, commonly used for Digital Broadcast Television and BluRay. It provides superior quality image for smaller files than MPEG-2/DivX etc. H264 has only come about because of increased device performance, and it is quite complex and taxing on slower systems.

    x264 isn't a codec, but a "free software library for encoding video streams in the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format". Refer to

    So why are 'Prirates' using .mkv/H264? Because it is techinically the best solution. It offers a better quality to file size ratio and supports multiple audio streams (say 2ch mp3, and 6 channel AC-3) in the same file, when compared to .avi/XviD and .mp4/H264.

    Yes, many devices and applications (like my TV, Windows Media Player, Apple iTues) won't open .mkv files, which is a pain, but then that's why I stream from my computer or use VLC player.

      My computers also struggle with .mkv, I've tried it on vlc and windows media player (klite codec pack) and it just doesn't like it. Every other file type plays fine! I even updated the klite codec pack and tried it with the included media player. DO NOT LIKE!

        MKV is not a codec. You need a matroska splitter.

        Besides all the technical details, why on earth would anyone download TV/movies to watch on a computer? Most TVs and media players sold in the last 5 years play MKV h.264 video just fine.


          Neither my Sony Bravia TV, Microsoft XBox 360, Sony BluRay Player, nor ElCheepo la TV, like mkv files, though all seem to be ok with them over DLNA (except the XBox doesn't audio better than stereo).

    This is news?
    x264 has been the HD encoder of choice for years now. You can rarely find any HD content in xvid anymore.
    The mp4 argument is bullocks, just (re)mux into MKV and your off to the races.

    I'm a newbie at posting but experienced in converting between various video formats. Over the past few years I have used various codecs and, while avi is good for everyday work then I must admit that x264 is vastly superior for quality encodes. Sure, there is a learning curve when adopting a new code, but it's worthwhile in the end. So be nice to each other and enjoy the happy madness:-)

    A little late to the party it seems but that's ok. People have been using h.264 quite frequently for years. Heck, I have known some groups to even cram h.264 codecs inside of avi containers...

    What it relatively new though that a lot of people, at least on the anime scene are using. Is the new h.264 profile Hi10p (10bit video). 10bit emerged a couple of seasons ago and has gone global. All the big fansubbers use it nowadays as 10bit not only offers superior compression, so smallers file of the same quality. But also future capabilities for a number of other things such as more colours than they have on the best sources available now, Blu Rays.

    The h.264 family is quite a large and powerful one though. Once they move past the next profile in line Hi422P they get onto Hi444PP which is supposed to support lossless video encoding (compression). However seeing as Hi10p has been a shock to people with older computers that can't handle it. I would imagine these new profiles would be a while away. Another CPU generation or two perhaps.

    Codec packs are generally a bad idea. There are plenty of good media players besides VLC though it is a great player. If you are using Win7 and trying to stream from Media Center, it should play the video fine. Add a Matroska (mkv) splitter and you should now have audio without risking codec packs really causing you serious headaches e. Been doing it since the release of Win7 To Xbox with no issues.

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