What is MPEG-4

MPEG-4 is an ISO/IEC standard developed by MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group), the committee that also developed the Emmy Award winning standards known as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. These standards made interactive video on CD-ROM and Digital Television possible. MPEG-4 is the result of another international effort involving hundreds of researchers and engineers from all over the world. MPEG-4, whose formal ISO/IEC designation is ISO/IEC 14496, was finalized in October 1998 and became an International Standard in the first months of 1999. The fully backward compatible extensions under the title of MPEG-4 Version 2 were frozen at the end of 1999, to acquire the formal International Standard Status early in 2000. Some work, on extensions in specific domains, is still in progress.

MPEG-4 builds on the proven success of three fields:

  • Digital television;
  • Interactive graphics applications (synthetic content);
  • Interactive multimedia (World Wide Web, distribution of and access to content)

MPEG-4 provides the standardized technological elements enabling the integration of the production, distribution and content access paradigms of the three fields.

More information about MPEG-4 can be found at MPEG's home page (case sensitive): http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/. This web page contains links to a wealth of information about MPEG, including much about MPEG-4, many publicly available documents, several lists of "Frequently Asked Questions" and links to other MPEG-4 web pages. The standard can be bought from ISO, send mail to sales@iso.ch. Notably, the complete software for MPEG-4 version 1 can be bought on a CD ROM, for 56 Swiss Francs. It can also be downloaded for free from ISO’s website: www.iso.ch/ittf - look under publicly available standards and then for "14496-5". This software is free of copyright restrictions when used for implementing MPEG-4 compliant technology. (This does not mean that the software is free of patents).

*Extracted from the "Overview of the MPEG-4 Standard"