HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding or “H.265” as it has become known) is arguably one of the most significant advancements in video compression technology that has been made in the industry in the last ten years. Why? Think about how much video we consume, create and transfer, on a daily basis. By Mark Chertkow, MD of Graphic Image Technologies.
Whether it’s watching HD television shows at night, streaming YouTube on a tablet or mobile device, video is a big part of our personal lives. It’s also a part of our lives at work, as CCTV cameras capture every move for security purposes at offices and factories across the country, and we communicate with colleagues across the globe through video conferencing.
The video files that we consume and create need to be compressed in order to be transferred to viewing devices and HEVC allows operators to do more with less. By halving the bandwidth required and reducing the demands that video streaming puts on networks, HEVC is set to enable the future of UHD TV (Ultra High Definition Television or “4K”) video content.
For many broadcasters and other video service content providers, the 4K/UHD transition is where they’re looking for future revenue streams. Getting to this point means that finding the right compression encoding technology and services, to ensure the best viewing experience.
What is High Efficiency Video Coding?
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) is designed to deliver the same visual quality as Advanced Video Coding (AVC or H.264), while requiring only half the bandwidth. HEVC supports all current resolutions as well as 4K and 8K, which will enable content distributors to deliver HD video to mobile devices over mobile data networks, using less bandwidth at a lower cost.
In time this will enable consumers to bring 4K video into the home and let them use it anywhere, on the fly.
The benefits of HEVC
HEVC delivers increased efficiency and flexibility for all video applications to come in the future, while making use of today’s network technology and infrastructure. HEVC will find application in home and digital cinemas and will make strides in the efficiency of surveillance, broadcast, video conferencing, mobile streaming and video storage – the possibilities are boundless.
The main benefit of HEVC is the strength of the picture which results in bigger images, while requiring 50% less bandwidth. For example, the potential value is significant when considered in the broadcasting sector in terms of live event coverage where bandwidth may be restricted. Making use of HEVC will lower the bit rate utilised which will enable broadcasts to be delivered to the viewer at an improved quality, across more channels, at a lower cost.
Mobile network service providers have noticed more than 50% of mobile traffic volume is video, making it difficult to maintain acceptable service levels. With HEVC Mobile network operators will be able to provide more content and services on their networks and deliver higher quality video without compromising the quality of their user experience.
The challenges of HEVC
If HEVC offers such obvious benefits, why aren’t more people using it? Cost is an issue, particularly where consumer set top boxes (STB’s) and video encoders are involved, in the case of paid subscription broadcast television services. Similarly on the OTT (over the top) side, transcoders, file formats, streaming protocols, streaming servers, content protection systems, network optimisation platforms and end-devices all need to support HEVC before the solution is viable from end to end.
Is the trade-off worth it for a bigger picture that requires less bandwidth to transfer? Yes. Bearing in mind that HEVC is concerned primarily with drastically reducing the bandwidth required to stream and transfer high-quality video content the technology is remarkable, as without this advancement, the future of Ultra High Definition video content would not be possible, as the bandwidth requirements would be simply prohibitive.