Embedded multimedia devices are now a common element of our environment, such as mp3 players, handheld devices, and so on. Choosing the right main processing element is a key issue for the success of these devices, and their consumption, performance, retargetability, and development time are some of the elements that need to be analyzed and well-balanced. In this paper, we map the same multimedia application (MPEG-4 main profile) into various target platforms generally used in the embedded area. The design flow of our work starts with a single MPEG-4 encoder description which is later refined and optimized to be implemented on different platforms: an embedded platform formed by a high performance digital signal processor and an embedded processor, an application specific instruction processor, a specific hardware implemented in a field-programmable gate array for accelerating the data-flow part of the system with a soft-core for the control part, and an application specific integrated circuit. The main contribution of this paper is to illustrate a methodology that can be generalized to different data dominant applications. This paper describes a new methodology to obtain near optimal implementation from concept to silicon for all platforms and it can be extended to any hybrid HW/SW multimedia platform. We evaluate the different transformations of each platform to arrive at an optimal implementation. These higher level transformations allow achieving better results than using more precise efforts in mapping the design in the physical level. This methodology can be extended to any data dominant application.