Communication Services

NexGen Codecs

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<p>Recently there was an announcement about VVC (Versatile Video Coding) standardization. Along with VVC came two more codecs EVC and LCEVC from MPEG. Apart from these, there are few other options in next-gen codecs in the form of VP9 and AV1.</p><p>Codec is a vital component in the delivery of video on pay TV and streaming platforms. With ever increasing demand for high resolution and immersive content, which requires many folds of bandwidth, there is a need to look for innovative solutions. Next-generation codecs improve encoding efficiency and quality and the right solution to these requirements.</p><p>At present, H.264 has been the most adopted codec for streaming and linear broadcast platforms. Now there are new generation codecs that can offer better compression than H.264. It is essential to adapt to new generation compression standards to offer better quality video over the same bandwidth and reduce CDN costs.</p><p>Next-generation codecs improve encoding efficiency and quality</p><p>Let us look at CODEC options we have.</p><h3><strong>H.264/AVC:</strong></h3><p>Developed by ITU and ISO/IEC, H.264/Advanced Video Coding is a workhorse codec. It was designed to meet broadcast and video streaming requirements. It is widely adopted, delivers quality output and given its wide support, plays on any device.</p><p>H.264 most deployed codec in Pay TV and OTT workflows.</p><h3><strong>H.265/ HEVC:</strong></h3><p>H.265 or high-efficiency video coding is a successor to H.264/AVC. ISO developed H.265. Its primary aim is to improve compression efficiency and support high resolution, 4K and 8K content delivery.</p><p>Even though it can reduce bandwidth requirement upto 50% compared to H.264, its adoption was marred by royalty related issues.</p><p>H.265 is ideal for broadcast as well as streaming high resolution content</p><h3><strong>VP9:</strong></h3><p>Google developed VP9 as an alternative to HEVC. It is royalty-free. All android phones, Chrome browsers and Google&rsquo;s YouTube platform support VP9.</p><p>VP9 offers better quality than H.265 or HEVC at the same bit rate. However, it has higher encoding and decoding complexity. Not much of adoption for this codec.</p><p>VP9 has high encoding and decoding complexity.</p><h3><strong>AV1:</strong></h3><p>AV1 is Next-Gen open source Codec, promoted by Alliance for Open Media(AOM). It is driven by the tech giants like Amazon, Google, Netflix, Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft etc</p><p>AV1 is an open-source, royalty-free, video codec and has the ability to deliver a next-generation video format that is interoperable, open, optimized for internet delivery and scalable to any modern device at any bandwidth. AV1 is expected to be 30% more efficient than HEVC, however, BBC tests show otherwise. Adoption is still low owing to low-scale hardware integration.&nbsp;</p><p>AV1 is supported by tech giants FAANG and many others</p><h3><strong>VVC (Versatile Video Coding):</strong></h3><p>VVC or H.266 is a successor to H.265/HEVC and has substantial improvement over H.265. Bit rate reduction can be anywhere between 30% to 50% compared with H.265. However, the encoding complexity is 9x or more than that of HEVC.</p><p>As per ITU press release of VVC, &ldquo;It has the flexibility to enable emerging applications such as 360-degree omnidirectional immersive multimedia, remote screen sharing, cloud-based collaboration, cloud gaming, and region-based extraction and merging. It also offers improved quality encoding for ultra-high definition (UHD) and high-dynamic-range (HDR) video as well as conventional video coding applications&rdquo;.</p><p>Up to 50% Bit rate savings with VVC.</p><p>VVC comes with a royalty fee (details not available yet) and which might hinder its rapid adoption.</p><h3><strong>EVC (Essential Video Coding) MPEG-5 Part 1:</strong></h3><p>MPEG-5 Essential Video Coding (EVC) aims to address use cases that are currently not well served by other MPEG and ITU-T standards. EVC has two profiles, royalty-free Baseline and higher performing Main profile with royalty fee.</p><p>The baseline profile performance shows that the codec delivers the same quality as H.264 at a bit rate savings of about 31% and Main profile delivers 26% savings compared to HEVC, main profile.</p><h3><strong>LCEVC (Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding) MPEG-5 Part 2:</strong></h3><p>It&rsquo;s not really a new codec but can be paired on top of existing or new codecs. It is part of MPEG with proprietary technology from V-NOVA.</p><p>LCEVC creates a hybrid stream with one lower resolution stream containing any base codec and an enhanced stream that provides additional resolution and quality. For example, an LCEVC encoder would create one backwards-compatible base layer stream using H.264 at low resolution, and a separate layer containing the additional data for native 1080p playback rather than encoding a 1080p stream using HEVC.</p><p>Average bandwidth savings of 45% and 34% as compared to H.264 and HEVC respectively.</p><h3><strong>Efficiency and Complexity:</strong></h3><p>As per BBC tests, &ldquo;VVC performs 27% better than the HEVC model for HD sequences and 35% for UHD sequences. AV1 on the other hand performed very similarly to HEVC, with average 2.5% loss over the HD sequences, and 1.3% gains for the UHD sequences&rdquo;.&nbsp;</p><div class="slate-resizable-image-embed slate-image-embed__resize-right"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQHRTKt8JxWYow/article-inline_image-shrink_1500_2232/0/1595405049777?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=LGEnfXVEVDOSxGfpmrz97cqgc_-iiKsNBKJAl8aUmlQ" alt="No alt text provided for this image" data-media-urn="" data-li-src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQHRTKt8JxWYow/article-inline_image-shrink_1500_2232/0/1595405049777?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=LGEnfXVEVDOSxGfpmrz97cqgc_-iiKsNBKJAl8aUmlQ" /></div><p>This BBC R&amp;D graph shows the average bit rates a compressed video of equal quality would have if encoded with AV1 or VVC relative to HEVC.</p><p>Below is the comparison of EVC, VVC, AV1 and LCEVC with HEVC.</p><div class="slate-resizable-image-embed slate-image-embed__resize-full-width"><img src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQE26qtldH7Wdw/article-inline_image-shrink_1500_2232/0/1595426647849?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=aLi-1i3jqiHDiwGMtW0D9rnxRxvoRcwNMN0Ui90tE7s" alt="No alt text provided for this image" data-media-urn="" data-li-src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQE26qtldH7Wdw/article-inline_image-shrink_1500_2232/0/1595426647849?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=aLi-1i3jqiHDiwGMtW0D9rnxRxvoRcwNMN0Ui90tE7s" /></div><h3><strong>AI Adaptive Encoding:</strong></h3><p>Leveraging AI and ML, many encoding companies/OEMs are deploying AI &amp; ML based proprietary tools for codec optimization or content adaptive encoding.&nbsp;Significant compression efficiencies can be achieved with these tools keeping the picture quality same.</p><p>AI and ML tools allow compression on whole or partial frames individually. Also predict future action based on past ones, identify the areas within each frame that will matter least and compress those areas more than the others keeping the viewing quality same.</p><p>This will help in a substantial reduction of streaming and storage costs.</p><h3><strong>CODEC choice:</strong></h3><p>Codec landscape has dramatically improved now. Its going to be a complex situation to choose a codec with so much choice in codecs and each having different properties. Further, Pay TV operators and OTT players with legacy systems and infrastructures may not opt for new codecs for standard services delivery but may opt to next-gen codecs to deliver high resolution content. The decision to choose a particular codec depends on which browser, mobile platform and device spectrum one want to deliver their services. An ideal approach would be the multi-codec option as of now.&nbsp;</p><div class="slate-resizable-image-embed slate-image-embed__resize-full-width"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQFsO-3qfeb9ew/article-inline_image-shrink_1000_1488/0/1595409956763?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=OPjzu2tadPpXh7NhaOL9GGmwZ5JM_ct6yy5GPCTRE6A" alt="No alt text provided for this image" data-media-urn="" data-li-src="https://media-exp1.licdn.com/dms/image/C4E12AQFsO-3qfeb9ew/article-inline_image-shrink_1000_1488/0/1595409956763?e=1648080000&amp;v=beta&amp;t=OPjzu2tadPpXh7NhaOL9GGmwZ5JM_ct6yy5GPCTRE6A" /></div>
KR Expert - Venkat Garapati