What if broadcast quality is good enough? Aren't broadcast-quality codecs like PhotoJPEG or MotionJPEG faster and more powerful than perfect-fidelity SheerVideo?
Surprisingly, no. But rather than asking you to take our word for it, we'll let you decide for yourself based on hard numbers that others can reproduce. Here's a chart comparing the RAM-to-RAM speed performance of all broadcast-quality QuickTime codecs to perfect-quality Sheer, as measured with Apple's microsecond timer on the Kodak Test Set under the exact same conditions as the perfect-fidelity RAM-to-RAM test above.
The standard broadcast-quality codecs Photo JPEG and Motion JPEG offer an obvious tradeoff between speed and quality. The more information you let them throw away, the faster they can run. If you're willing to triple the error rate by lowering the quality from Best to High, you can get a 40% to 90% speed boost in each of these codecs. But at what cost? For RGB footage, High quality for these codecs means that each sample is off by an average of nearly 2 bits. Considering that you only started out with 8 bits per sample, that's a pretty scary sacrifice in quality — a sacrifice not many broadcast producers would put up with.
SheerVideo, as a lossless video compressor, has only one quality setting: Perfect. So, in contrast to approximating broadcast-quality codecs, SheerVideo offers no speed-quality tradeoff. It doesn't need to. Even at perfect quality, SheerVideo runs way faster than Apple's already incredibly fast broadcast-quality approximating codecs. In fact, SheerVideo compresses three to four times as fast as Best-quality Photo JPEG and Motion JPEG, and two to three times as fast as their High-quality settings. SheerVideo also decompresses two to three times as fast as these codecs at their Best setting, and even at High quality, they can't keep up with SheerVideo.
What's more, SheerVideo's lossless compression power is competitive with the lossy compression power of Photo JPEG and Motion JPEG too.
So why would anyone want to use Photo JPEG or Motion JPEG instead of SheerVideo?
Well, imagine, if you can, a situation in which you don't value your time and don't care about the quality of your work. Then you could afford to wait while an approximating codec shrinks your video by degrading its quality, right?.
Back here on earth, however, where time and quality matter, SheerVideo is the only reasonable way to go.