|HD Headed Under 2 Megabits: H.265 High Efficiency Video Coding|
|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 20:05|
4K Ultra HD also coming, for sets over 100 inches. Those who think we need 50 meg and more for home TV haven't been tracking the improvements in video encoding. Most HD video watched in the U.S. is less than 4 megabits. A well-encoded Netflix version of The Tudors looks great on Jennie's 50 inch TV at under 3 meg. (I wouldn't have believed it either until I watched.) Two HD channels + plenty of web surfing fit fine in 12 meg; 20 meg easily handles three.
The soon to be ratified HEVC standard is expected to double efficiency and further reduce the need for video bandwidth. The improvements are greatest at even lower bit rates, aimed at delivering video to mobile while using less capacity. Rick Merritt in EE Times thinks ratification may come in a few months although an MPEG press release targeted January. As far as I know, there is no reference encoder yet developed and practical chips are several years away. Merritt also reports chipmakers may hold back on design because as many as 500 patents may be involved. He notes Mediatek, Qualcomm and Samsung are not interested in joining MPEG_LA and have essential patents. HEVC also includes coding for 4K "Ultra HD" screens, which will find little use at home for many years. Video expert Andy Setos believes few humans can distinguish between 720p and 1080i on a 40 inch monitor; the improvement from a 2048 line Ultra HD screen won't be visible except on much larger screens.
Separately, the state of the art of H.264 continues improving. ATEME is releasing a new encoder, EAVC4, which they claim is 20% more efficient. Expect a slew of similar announcement as we approach IBC.
There's a good technical presentation of some of the new techniques in Towards high efﬁciency video coding: Subjective evaluation of potential coding technologies by Francesca De Simone, Lutz Goldmann, Jong-Seok Lee, Touradj Ebrahimi. I've included below the Wikipedia entry which is the most comprehensive less technical report I've found, as well as press releases from ATEME and MPEG.
High Efficiency Video Coding
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a draft video compression standard, a successor to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), currently under joint development by theISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG). MPEG and VCEG have established a Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC) to develop the HEVC standard. HEVC is said to improve video quality and double the data compression ratio compared to H.264, and scales from 320 × 240 to 7680 × 4320 pixels resolution.
The ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) began significant study of technology advances that could enable creation of a new video compression standard (or substantial compression-oriented enhancements of the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard) in about 2004. Various techniques for potential enhancement of the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard were surveyed in October 2004. At the next meeting of VCEG, in January 2005, VCEG began designating certain topics as "Key Technical Areas" (KTA) for further investigation. A software codebase called the KTA codebase was established for evaluating such proposals in 2005. The KTA software was based on the Joint Model (JM) reference software that was developed by the MPEG & VCEG Joint Video Team for H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. Additional proposed technologies were integrated into the KTA software and tested in experiment evaluations over the next four years. 
Two approaches for standardizing enhanced compression technology were considered: either creating a new standard or creating extensions of H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. The project had tentative names H.265 and H.NGVC (Next-generation Video Coding), and was a major part of the work of VCEG until its evolution into the HEVC joint project with MPEG in 2010. The "H.265" nickname was especially associated with the potential creation of a new standard.
The preliminary requirements for NGVC were bit rate reduction of 50% at the same subjective image quality comparing to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High profile, with computational complexity ranging from 1/2 to 3 times that of the High profile. NGVC would be able to provide 25% bit rate reduction along with 50% reduction in complexity at the same perceived video quality as the High profile, or to provide greater bit rate reduction with somewhat higher complexity.
"H.265" was used as a nickname for an entirely new standard, as was the "High-performance Video Coding" work by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Although some agreements about the goals of the project had been reached by early 2009, e.g. computational efficiency and high compression performance, the state of technology at the time seemed not yet mature for creation of an entirely new "H.265" standard, as all contributions were essentially modifications closely based on the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC design.
The ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) started a similar project in 2007, tentatively named High-performance Video Coding. Early evaluations were performed with modifications of the KTA reference software encoder developed by VCEG. By July 2009, experimental results showed average bit reduction of around 20% compared with AVC High Profile; these results prompted MPEG to initiate its standardization effort in collaboration with VCEG.
A formal joint Call for Proposals (CfP) on video compression technology was issued in January 2010 by VCEG and MPEG, and proposals were evaluated at the first meeting of the MPEG & VCEG Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC), which took place in April 2010. A total of 27 full proposals were submitted. Evaluations showed that some proposals could reach the same visual quality as AVC at only half the bit rate in many of the test cases, at the cost of 2×-10× increase in computational complexity; and some proposals achieved good subjective quality and bit rate results with lower computational complexity than the reference AVC High profile encodings. At that meeting, the name High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) was adopted for the joint project. Starting at that meeting, the JCT-VC integrated features of some of the best proposals into a single software codebase and a draft standard text specification, and performed further experiments to evaluate various proposed features.
The timescale for completing the HEVC standard is as follows:
HEVC aims to substantially improve coding efficiency compared to AVC High Profile, i.e. to reduce bitrate requirements by half with comparable image quality, at the expense of increased computational complexity. Depending on the application requirements, HEVC should be able to trade off computational complexity, compression rate, robustness to errors, and processing delay time.
HEVC is targeted at next-generation HDTV displays and content capture systems which feature progressive scanned frame rates and display resolutions from QVGA (320×240) up to 1080p (1920×1080) and 4320p (7680×4320), as well as improved picture quality in terms of noise level, color gamut, and dynamic range.
HEVC replaces macroblocks with flexible scheme based on coding units (CUs), variable size structures which sub-partition the picture into rectangular regions. Each CU contains variable-block-sized prediction unit (PUs) of either intra-picture or inter-picture prediction type, and transform units (TUs) which contain coefficients for spatial block transform and quantization.
The HEVC draft design includes various coding tools, such as
The February 2012 draft of the standard includes a single profile, Main, which is similar to the Progressive High profile in H.264 AVC. The draft standard contains provisions for future extensions similar to Scalable Video Coding andMultiview Video Coding defined in H.264 AVC.
The February 2012 draft standard defines sixteen Levels, which are a set of constraints for required decoder performance. The levels retain the basic structure of H.264 AVC.
The maximum number of decoded picture buffers is currently 6 for all Levels.
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) achieves first formal milestone toward completion
ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 (informally known as the Moving Picture Experts Group – MPEG) and ITU-T SG 16 Working Party 3 (WP3/16) are pleased to recognize the completion of the ISO/IEC committee draft of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard developed by the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC), a joint team between MPEG and WP3/16. The committee draft was approved for balloting at the 99th MPEG meeting (San Jose, USA, 10 February 2012) and is the first formal ISO/IEC milestone in the HEVC project. HEVC is expected to be submitted in January 2013 for final standardization approval in both ISO/IEC and ITU-T. The design of HEVC, the next generation of video compression standards, incorporates the latest state-of-the-art technologies and algorithmic advances to address the persistent demand for broader usage of video content, video migration to broadband networks, diversification of mobile devices, ever-higher resolutions for cameras and displays, and increasingly high video quality. The ISO/IEC's MPEG and ITU-T's video coding experts (currently Q6/16, informally known as the Visual Coding Experts Group – VCEG) have previously developed other successful video coding standards, providing the ability for products to interoperate using standard digital video formats. Important milestones in this prior work have been the MPEG-2 standard (ISO/IEC 13818-2 and ITU-T H.262), and the AVC standard (ISO/IEC 14496-10 and ITU-T H.264). The MPEG-2 standard resulted in the creation of digital television as we know it today, while the AVC standard, developed about a decade after MPEG-2, provided a compelling advantage in compression capability by incorporating new advances in video coding technology that doubled the compression efficiency of MPEG-2. HEVC is the latest in the series of video compression standards to be developed jointly by VCEG and MPEG. The HEVC project was formally launched in January 2010 following studies by both MPEG and VCEG to assess the readiness and availability of technology simultaneously with an analysis of industry needs for a new standard, and approval by the SC 29 and SG 16 higher-level committees to launch the JCT-VC. The major goal of the project is to develop the next generation video coding standard that could achieve the same level of video quality with a substantial savings (e.g. reduction by half) relative to the bit rate required by AVC. Initial measurements of the capability of HEVC, at this stage, indicate that its performance is already meeting or exceeding the targets set by this goal.
ATEME Launches A Major Leap Forward in Encoding Technology--EAVC4: Beyond the Industry's Requirements for High Fidelity MPEG-4 Encoding
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Software Encoder Unlocks the Future of Multi-Screen Delivery, Raises Bar for Video Quality and Speed, and Supports MPEG Growth Demands While High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) Matures
PARIS, June 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ATEME, the leading provider of efficient video compression technology, today announced the newest addition to its proven family of industry-leading H.264 compliant video encoding technologies EAVC4: Beyond the industry's requirements for high fidelity MPEG-4 coding. With video content being streamed and downloaded by an ever-burgeoning consumer base, the ability to tailor video content for specific screen sizes and available bandwidths is critical to ensure an optimized end-user viewing experience. EAVC4 offers broadcasters, broadband providers, and content creators improved performance and flexibility through unparalleled encoding software architecture—built from the ground-up, leveraging previous generations of advancements—in order to:
"As the pace of change of formats, requirements and new business models reaches continues to quicken, product form factors are drifting away from dedicated hardware appliances toward agile software solutions. This trend is particularly pronounced in segments such as production and multi-screen transcoders, and is creeping into traditional hardware domains such as linear pay TV encoding," said Avni Rambhia, senior industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan.
EAVC4: Highest Video Quality
Resulting from a top-to-bottom redesign, the EAVC4 encoder significantly elevates the level of available video quality with the following key improvements:
Dramatic Speed Improvements For All Video Quality Settings
Marking a major leap forward in performance with drastic speed improvements for all video quality (VQ) settings, EAVC4 provides users with the capability to either encode faster at the current VQ level or to significantly increase VQ while maintaining the current encoding speed. The all-new EAVC4 video encoding architecture draws its efficiency from:
Resulting in significant performance improvements in both file transcoding and live transcoding environments, the above technology enhancements afford the following:
"Multi-Screen by Design" Yields System-Level Performance and Fidelity Gains
EAVC4 leverages a patented technique called "Multi-Screen by Design"—a new approach to processing video for multi-screen output. Relying on intelligent parallelization to perform common processes only one time for all bit-rates and screen formats, EAVC4 delivers speed improvements and optimizes video fidelity for multiple outputs from a single content stream. This enables broadcast and broadband professionals to offer an optimal blend of processing speed, video quality, multi-screen capabilities and resource efficiency.
"As a long-time leader in the video encoding space, ATEME is well underway with plans for HEVC product releases. However, it is clear that the need for higher performance, encoding flexibility and improved multi-screen capabilities is not something that users can simply defer until the full testing and adoption of future HEVC solutions," said Pierre Larbier, chief technology officer, ATEME. "Today's video encoding systems must not only support large-scale, continuous video encoding operations, but they must also offer a high degree of flexibility for outputting different levels of video quality, frame-rates, bit-rates and screen resolution. The release of EAVC4 addresses the ever-escalating consumer demand for rich video content now, and empowers broad access across an increasing number of viewer devices."
ATEME's EAVC4 will be available in the coming weeks in the TITAN family of transcoders including TITAN FILE, TITAN Live and TITAN KFE. For more information, visit http://www.ateme.com/Transcoders
ATEME is a world leading provider of MPEG-4 / H.264 and MPEG-2 bandwidth efficient compression technology. ATEME encoding solutions are deployed widely for broadcast contribution links, digital TV distribution networks, multi-screen live streaming, OTT and VOD applications. For more information, please visit the company's website.