Beyond H.264

Banner with the initials HEVC, under which it reads High Efficiency Video CodingToday the most commonly consumed media format is MP4 files using the H.264 (Advanced Video Coding) compression scheme for video and AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) for audio. These provide the best, easily consumable, compression ratios and as such became the format of choice for mobile device designers and manufacturers. While H.264 does a very efficient job of compressing video, making larger sizes and higher quality possible at lower bit rates than previous formats, there’s always room for improvement. That’s where H.265, or HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), comes in.

HEVC is the new standard designed to supplant the currently reigning H.264. HEVC is roughly twice as efficient, allowing for the same size and quality at half the bit rate or double the size at the same bit rate. With over half of the Internet’s traffic being used for streaming video, this has a lot to offer.  Online video consumption is poised to overtake traditional cable subscriptions as tech-savvy individuals cut the cord and turn to the Internet for their TV and newer generations don’t even have a cord to cut driving Internet video consumption even higher. With 4K, or Ultra HDTV, on the horizon the better efficiency will be even more important. 4K is the new high definition standard that is twice the resolution of current HD content.

All this being said, don’t expect to see HEVC in the next few years. The road to adoption is a long one. The standard was just formally published by the Internet consumptionITU-T Video Coding Experts Group and ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) at the end of last year. Many companies already jumped on incorporating HEVC into new and existing products well before this, but before the average consumer will start enjoying the benefits of HEVC there are still countless encoders, servers, device manufacturers, software developers, operating system creators and others that need to commit resources to incorporating support into their products. Once HEVC has reached our hands the benefits should be many.  Digital video resolutionsIn addition to the commonly touted perks, such as reduced data usage for cell phone plans and prettier Netflix streams, HEVC will also make it possible for those  in remote locations on slow connections, like dial-up and ISDN, to consume media.

Justin

medialogue

Troyer

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