H.264 is the most advanced video compression technology available
today. This standard is the result of many years of research which
grew out of both H.263 and MPEG-4. This chart shows the evolution
of compression standards.
Iain Richardson's web site is a good resouce site for advanced
video coding and H.264 information: http://www.vcodex.com/resources.html
The following IEEE paper is a more detailed overview of the H.264
Overview of the H.264
/ AVC Video coding standard (3MB PDF file)
A draft of the whole H.264 Standard
(1.4MB, 264 page PDF file) from the ITU-T 8th meeting in Geneva,
Switzerland, May 23-27, 2003, is also downloadable here.