Though High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is still in its take-up phase, it is foreseeable that even better compression will be needed in the future, both in the context of traditional and new application domains.
In this regard, a joint exploration activity has been started by ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T VCEG under the umbrella of their Joint Video Exploration Team (JVET). Test cases have been defined for various types of video, including HD, UHD, HDR, and 360-degree video, and investigations on advanced compression tools, using a common software platform, have been performed.
Evidence obtained so far indicates potential for significant achievable compression efficiency improvements. As a next step towards standardization, a Call for Proposals is planned to be issued with responses expected by spring 2018.
In past developments of video compression standard generations, it took approximately one decade to achieve a doubling in performance (i.e., half rate with same visual quality). Though the first version of HEVC was not launched earlier than 2013, a next generation appears to be desirable earlier, potentially around 2020, specifically supporting:
- 5G applications, with the advent of ubiquitous wireless video sensors;
- Massive streaming of UHD video content;
- High dynamic range and wide colour gamut (which are emerging and are expected to become mainstream);
- Immersive formats stepping into markets, such as virtual/augmented reality, free viewpoint, light field and beyond.
At the same time, some changes in the ecosystem which has driven the sustainability of standards generations so far are happening:
- Proprietary codecs are increasingly competing against open standards (as they typically have shorter life cycles in their versions and are often running on software platforms).
- Software implementation on smart devices becomes more important than dedicated hardware and even dedicated hardware becomes increasingly programmable.
After all, this might allow for shorter development cycles than traditionally seen, in particular when potential technology exists, providing sufficient performance improvement to justify development of a new generation of standards.
In order to meet these challenges, ITU-T VCEG (Q6/16) and ISO/IEC MPEG (JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11) have started a joint study about the potential for standardization of video coding technology with a compression capability that significantly exceeds the HEVC standard (Rec. ITU-T H.265 | ISO/IEC 23008-2). Such future standardization could take the form of additional extension(s) of HEVC or an entirely new standard.