IBC2018: Expert IBC panel weighs up competing codec technologies.

The pros and cons of new video compression technologies were debated at an IBC Tech Talk titled Codec Wars.

Codec wars

Codec wars

New codecs JEM(Joint Exploration Model), XVC, VVC (Versatile Video Coding) and AV1 were all under discussion at the Tech Talk, as was the HEVC standard.

Complex latency, efficiency and royalty rights issues embody the codec battleground, with a number of codecs poised for development and standardisation.

AV1, built on Google’s VP9 codec, is said to be viable when implementing a multipass configuration and comes with royalty-free rights, which HEVC doesn’t, Ateme’s Business Development and Technology Consultant Ian Trow explained.

HEVC and AV1 more or less perform similarly while JEM provides significantly better compression efficiency, said BBC R&D Engineer Andre Dias, who presented a technical paper summary comparing them to HEVC. 

He concluded “We cannot say there is a clear winner for the quality performance for HEVC and AV1.”

BBC Technology Transfer and Partnerships Manager Philippe Keutgen said compression efficiency is a big issue, noting that the BBC streamed the World Cup live in 4K and HDR.

On AV1, he said: “We need some time for implementation and maturity. At some point we will need a new standard and we are looking into alternatives and how the future of video compression may look beyond HEVC.”

A new entrant into the codec battle is XVC, developed by Divideon, which positions itself between AV1 and HEVC.

Co-founder and CEO Jonatan Samuelsson described the new technology as “a revolutionary software defined video compression format developed as the next generation video codec.”

The main AV1 concern is around the “massive processing task” distributed over a number of servers. Fundamental improvements to the implementation for industry adoption are critical.

Looking to the next five years’ panellists agreed AV1 will have a “big market impact”.

Trow added: “There is no clear winner, the future will involve both AV1 and HEVC as well as others codecs but the industry needs to move beyond complex royalty licensing.”