Introduction to Video Compression
Video compression technologies have been playing a crucial role in many industries, from television broadcasting to social media platforms. They are designed to reduce the size of video files to less bandwidth and memory, while still delivering a quality that is hopefully imperceptible or negligible to the human eye. In this arena, the future holds much promise with the advent of new technologies and techniques.
Current Leading Video Compression Algorithms
Conventionally, the two most popular video compression standards have been:
- H.264/AVC: Advanced Video Coding, also known as H.264, has been the predominant coding format for over a decade, especially for high-definition online video.
- HEVC/H.265: High Efficiency Video Coding takes H.264 a step further, providing a similar level of video quality but at half the bandwidth, or alternatively, much higher quality at the same bandwidth.
Despite their widespread use, such technologies are continually being improved, especially when considering the increasing demand for video content of 4K resolution and beyond.
Truly Light Years Ahead: VVC/H.266
Stepping into a new era of video streaming and broadcasting, VVC (Versatile Video Coding) or H.266 comes into the picture. This new standard was finalized in July 2020 and it offers significant improvements over the existing HEVC standard. It offers up to 50% bit rate reduction compared to HEVC, which means that videos of the same quality will require half the storage space.
AV1: The Rising Open-Source Contender
Compared to the aforementioned codecs, AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is a new, royalty-free video coding format released by the Alliance for Open Media. Promising a 30% improvement over HEVC and VP9, another open-source codec developed by Google, AV1 wants to become the new standard for digital video on the internet by being more efficient and accessible.
EVC: Essential Video Coding
Another interesting codec is the MPEG-5 part 1, also known as Essential Video Coding (EVC). It is projected as a direct competitor to AV1 and H.266/VVC. What makes EVC appealing is its two-layer licensing structure:
- The Baseline profile, which includes technologies that are at least ten years old, is claimed to be royalty-free.
- The Main profile provides approximately 30% better compression efficiency than HEVC, but requires a license on terms that are licensable with fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.
LCEVC: Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding
Lastly, let’s look at MPEG-5 Part 2, Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC). Instead of being a standalone codec, LCEVC works as an enhancement to other codecs, including the ones previously mentioned in this article. Simply put, LCEVC adds detail and sharpness to a base video, increasing the effectiveness of any codecs used with it.
What makes LCEVC remarkable is its ability to provide higher quality videos that can be decoded without any considerable extra processing power. This means that it’ll be beneficial for devices which might be limited by hardware capabilities.
We are now better equipped than ever to increase efficiency, reduce storage and bandwidth usage and to democratize video on the internet through royalty-free standards. The competition among VVC, AV1, EVC, and LCEVC paints an exciting future for video compression technologies. Each one of these codecs has its own strengths and applications where it shines brighter.
All these advancements will not only lead to cost savings for providers, but it should also mean the ability to provide higher quality video experiences to users, even those on lower bandwidth connections. This will eventually redefine the future of video streaming quality and accessibility. Technology is progressing, and in this area at least, it can only get better and better.