I have a ton of low quality 3g2 files from an old cell phone that I want to convert to h.264.
Is there any benefit to going from a lossy format like 3g2 to huffyuv before going to h.264?
I might be encoding them to something else later if that matters. I was concerned about converting from lossy to lossy and later to lossy again.
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If you convert from the cell phone video directly to h.264, you'd get the same results
Using a lossless intermediate is all negatives in that case - huffyuv will be much larger in filesize, less compatible, take more time, and sometimes not even lossy (the original huffyuv does not support 4:2:0, so you introduce some loss by going to 4:2:2, then back to 4:2:0, because the method it uses is not nearest neighbor)
I tried one and the difference is negligible.
But maybe you can also answer the question generally as well.
Are there cases where someone would get better results? For example, transcoding a reasonable quality mpeg to huffyouv before h.264? In what instances might it be recommended? How do you decide?
The process of converting a lossy codec video to another lossy codec video involves first decompressing the source to uncompressed video, then compressing that uncompressed video to the new lossy codec.
lossy source ---> uncompressed video ---> new lossy compression
lossy source ---> uncompressed video ---> lossless intermediate file ---> uncompresseed video ---> new lossy compression
There are some exceptions:
1) If your editor can't read the source video (can't handle the container or codec) converting to a lossless intermediate can give you a file your editor can read.
2) Long GOP, out-of-order codecs, can be slow to seek and hard to random seek (often seeking to the wrong frame) -- for both editors and encoders. If you're having trouble with this using a lossless (all I-frame) intermediate will help. Such a lossless file is quick to seek and always seeks to the right frame.