Better Compression than H.264/AVC?

In order to provide forthcoming services such as mobile HD at an affordable video rate, an efficient video coding technology is needed. The latest video technology standardised was Scalable Video Coding (SVC) in 2007, the successful standardisation effort of ITU-T VCEG and MPEG providing scalability on top of H.264/AVC coding efficiency. However, SVC is more of an additional feature than a more efficient coding technology.

In order to provide a standardised solution in the coming years, the MPEG committee created the High-Performance Video Coding Ad-hoc group (HVC - AHG) to investigate the next generation coding technology. Its main requirements are the following:
- Performance improvements in terms of coding efficiency at higher resolution.
- 50% better coding efficiency than the actual state of the art codec (H.264/AVC).
- A compromise between better coding performance and complexity.
- Applicability to entertainment quality services such as mobile HD, home cinema and Ultra High Definition TV.

Evidence of such technology has already been proven in the HVC - AHG by various proponents according to the call for evidence issued in April 2009. Based on these results, a call for proposals will be published in the coming months. The targeted image formats are only progressive scanned and they span different image resolutions classified in the following categories: Class A - 4K, 2K; Class B - 1080p/50-60-24; Class C - WVGA; Class D - WQVGA; Class E - 720p/50-60.

A similar investigation is also ongoing in the ITU-T VCEG group. The possibility of another joint MPEG ITU-T effort is not excluded but is not yet clearly defined.

Talking about codecs, JPEG2000 carriage over MPEG-2 TS standardisation work has been initiated to define all necessary identifiers and field descriptors in a future amendment of the MPEG-2 TS standard. The later work follows the JPEG2000 broadcast profiles defined in the JPEG2000 standards.

Another effort of MPEG to be carefully scrutinised by the industry is the initiative to define a new MPEG transport stream called the Modern Media Transport - MMT. The MMT mechanism should provide a unified solution for efficient carriage of MPEG coded content in heterogeneous networks.

A preliminary set of uses cases (transport over Fixed and Mobile networks, Adaptive progressive download, context aware streaming, open IPTV, etc.) and requirements was drafted and is subject to input from relevant standardisation bodies (DVB, etc.).

By Adi Kuoadio, EBU Tech-i