Sustainability of Digital Formats
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MPEG-4 File Format, Version 1

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Format Description Properties Explanation of format description terms

Identification and description Explanation of format description terms

Full name ISO/IEC 14496-1:2001. Information technology -- Coding of audio-visual objects -- Part 1: Systems (formal name); MPEG-4 file format, version 1 (common name)
Description The first MPEG-4 file format developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG). The format's object-based design defines a set of tools that present binary coded representation of individual audiovisual objects, text, graphics, and synthetic objects. (See Notes below.) This format was intended to serve web and other online applications and mobile devices, i.e., cell phones and PDAs. See also Notes for MP4_FF_2. As indicated in the Adoption information under Sustainability factors below, MP4_FF_1 is not widely used. For this reason the set of subtypes for files containing the various profiles of MPEG-4_V (MPEG-4 Visual Coding, Part 2 of the standard) have not been developed at this Web site. In addition, it appears that MP4_FF_1 could contain MPEG-4_AVC (MPEG-4 Advanced Visual Coding, Part 10 of the standard), but this is judged unlikely and the possibility has not been documented at this Web site.
Production phase Generally a final-state (end-user delivery) format.
Relationship to other formats
    Has subtype MPEG-4 File Format, Version 1, with Visual Encoding (Part 2), Various Profiles, not documented at this time
    Contains MPEG-4_V, MPEG-4 Visual Coding (Part 2), All Profiles/Subtypes
    Has later version MP4_FF_2, MPEG-4 File Format, Version 2

Local use Explanation of format description terms

LC experience or existing holdings  
LC preference  

Sustainability factors Explanation of format description terms

Disclosure Open standard. Developed through ISO technical program ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29 for coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information. The working group WG11 (for coding of moving pictures and audio) is also known as the Motion Pictures Expert Group (MPEG). See the ISO Standards Catalogue for the list of standards published by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29. See http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/standards/mpeg-4 for information specific to MPEG-4 and its many parts.
    Documentation

ISO/IEC 14496-1:2001. Information technology -- Coding of audio-visual objects -- Part 1: Systems. (Superceded by the 2004 edition.)

See complete list of ISO/IEC MPEG-4 documents in the description of MP4_FF_2.

Adoption

Of the four file formats associated with the MPEG-4 family of specifications, the compiler of this document believes that most current production systems have implemented MP4_FF_2. In the 2004 edition of Part 1 of the standard, the section that had been devoted to version one of the MPEG-4 file format in the 2001 edition (Section 13) has been omitted.

    Licensing and patents See MP4_FF_2
Transparency See MP4_FF_2
Self-documentation See MP4_FF_2
External dependencies See MP4_FF_2
Technical protection considerations See MP4_FF_2

Quality and functionality factors Explanation of format description terms

Moving Image
Normal rendering See MP4_FF_2
Clarity (high image resolution) See MP4_FF_2
Functionality beyond normal rendering See MP4_FF_2
Sound
Fidelity (high audio resolution) See MP4_FF_2
Multiple channels See MP4_FF_2
Functionality beyond normal rendering Not investigated at this time.

File type signifiers Explanation of format description terms

Tag Value Note
Filename extension mp4
 
Internet Media Type video/mp4
Most frequently cited MIME type; for more information see MP4_FF_2. The compiler of this document welcomes comments on the use of MIME types for various MPEG-4 file formats.
Magic numbers See note.  According to the MIME type registration, RFC 4337, no magic number exists.
File type brand (ISO Base Media File Format) mp41
ISO_BMFF includes a file type box that contains major and minor brands (identifiers); the mp41 brand is specified in Part 14, Section 4 (ISO/IEC 14496-14:2003. Information technology -- Coding of audio-visual objects -- Part 14: MP4 File Format, p. 6).

Notes Explanation of format description terms

General

The four file formats associated with the ISO/IEC 14496 family of specifications are:

  • MP4_FF_1, "version 1," this document, from Part 1 (2001)
  • MP4_FF_2, "version 2," from Part 14
  • MP4_FF_AVCE, for Advanced Video Coding extensions, from Part 15
  • MP4_XMT, "textual format," from Part 11

MP4_FF_1 and MP4_FF_2 are very similar.

For a brief statement concerning MPEG-4's object-based design, see Notes for MP4_FF_2. Note that "object-oriented building blocks" in this file format and in QuickTime are called atoms; in contrast, they are called boxes in the later ISO_BMFF and MP4_FF_2.

History MP4_FF_1 was defined in the 2001 edition of Part 1 of the MPEG-4 standard and has now been superceded by MP4_FF_2. Both file formats owe a debt to their predecessor QuickTime. This lineage is shared with ISO_BMFF, defined in MPEG-4 Part 12 (and also in Part 12 of the JPEG 2000 standard), which is in turn the supertype for MP4_FF_2, defined in Part 14, and for MP4_FF_AVCE, defined in Part 15.

Format specifications Explanation of format description terms


Useful references

URLs


Last Updated: 02/10/2014