The next generation video standard arrives
February 7, 2013 -- ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 MPEG is proud to announce the completion of the new High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard which has been promoted to Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) status at the 103rd MPEG meeting. The new MPEG HEVC standard reduces by half the bit rate needed to deliver high-quality video for a broad variety of applications. Developed jointly with the Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) of ITU-T WP 3/16, the HEVC standard will be formally referenced as ISO/IEC 23008-2 in ISO/IEC and as a new addition to the H series of Recommendations in ITU-T.
The MPEG HEVC standard specifies three important profiles including the “Main Profile”, “Main 10 Profile”, and “Main Still Picture Profile”. Mass-market consumer video products that historically require only 8 bits of precision in their processing will be based primarily on the "Main Profile" while the “Main 10 Profile” will support up to 10 bits of processing precision for applications with higher quality demands. Finally, the "Main Still Picture Profile", the first of its kind to emerge from an MPEG video coding standard, leverages the underlying technology of HEVC so that it can be used for still image applications as well. In this way, MPEG HEVC also advances the state-of-the-art for still picture coding as video products can benefit from the use of HEVC technology, e.g. for still-picture photography.
MPEG issues final CfP for 3D audio coding
At the 103rd MPEG meeting, MPEG has issued a Call for Proposals (CfP) on MPEG-H 3D Audio Coding (ISO/IEC 23008-3) which is available in the public documents section at http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/. MPEG-H 3D Audio is envisaged to provide a highly immersive audio experience by the rendering of a realistic and compelling 3D audio scene. Key functional areas that are addressed for 3D Audio include a compact and bit-efficient representation of multi-channel audio content having a true three-dimensional sound scene, and the ability to flexibly render this content to an arbitrary number and configuration of loudspeakers, when compared to the original audio program. As a specific operating point, 3D Audio will support the coding and compression of 22.2 channel audio programs, in which the loudspeakers surround the listener in both horizontal and vertical directions. As many consumers will not have access to a full 22.2 loudspeaker setup, another key capability of MPEG-H 3D Audio will be to flexibly render the audio program to a fewer number of loudspeakers, while maintaining the same sense of envelopment. Also addressed in the CfP is the important use case of presentation via headphones, so that an immersive experience can also be delivered when using e.g. mobile devices.
Extensions building on top of the new MPEG HEVC
Building upon the strong foundation of technology created in MPEG HEVC, work has already started to further enhance the capabilities of HEVC with three sets of extensions including: 1) application range extensions (for higher-resolution colour representation and higher-precision for video processing applications); 2) extensions for 3D and multiview video coding (for applications such as stereoscopic 3D television); and 3) extensions for scalable video coding (to enable the flexible extraction of subsets of the coded video content for their direct use as lower bit rate encodings of the same content). Two key aspects of these three sets of extensions entered the formal approval process in ISO/IEC by moving to the Proposed Draft Amendment (PDAM) formal ballot stage at the 103rd meeting., Like HEVC, the development of these extensions is being conducted jointly by MPEG and VCEG in two collaborative teams known as the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC) and the Joint Collaborative Team on 3D (JCT-3V).
HEVC range extensions include professional colour formats and higher sample bit depths
The first of the range extensions planned for MPEG HEVC will support HEVC video coding using alternative colour formats such as the 4:4:4 "full colour" format needed for high-quality encoding of content that may include a mixture of text, graphics, and video, and also the 4:2:2 horizontally-subsampled colour format used in many professional studio video applications. The range extensions will also extend MPEG HEVC to support higher-precision video content, with sample precisions up to 12 bits and beyond. The work on the range extensions will be completed in January 2014.
Multiview and stereoscopic 3D for MPEG HEVC
Multiview and stereoscopic 3D video support for MPEG HEVC has also now matured to the PDAM ballot stage. This design will enable HEVC-based high-quality 3D video coding, roughly cutting in half the bit rate that was in previous products and services for 3D television and 3D Blu-ray discs. The work on the multiview extensions will also be completed in January 2014.
Innovation for 3D video continues for AVC with depth map encoding and UHD colour support
Although the HEVC standard has now arrived, the widely-used Advanced Video Coding standard (AVC, formally referenced as ISO/IEC 14496-10 and Rec. ITU-T H.264) remains a focus for new innovation in MPEG. At this meeting, MPEG finished its latest addition to AVC, for the encoding of multiview video (MVC) with depth maps. The development of this enhancement has been completed by MPEG with the issuing of a Final Draft Amendment (FDAM) at the 103rd meeting.
Depth map encoding for the MVC extension of AVC provides applications with the ability to create advanced 3D experiences in which a dramatic increase in view flexibility will be achieved. Rather than supporting only discrete encoded views of the video content, as typically found with stereoscopic 3D formats such as today's 3D television and Blu-ray discs, the "MVC plus depth" coding will help receiving systems to synthesize additional views from flexible viewpoint perspectives – providing a much richer experience where the viewer can select the viewing perspective.
As technology continues to move forward with demands of ever-higher quality, the use of "2K" high-definition (HD) video resolution has become the norm, and 4K "Ultra-HD" is beginning to emerge in products as well. With a new PDAM issued for ballot at the Geneva MPEG meeting, the new 4K Ultra-HD format standardized formally in Rec. ITU-R BT.2020 will be fully enabled in AVC applications.
Digging Deeper – How to Contact MPEG
Communicating the large and sometimes complex array of technology that the MPEG Committee has developed is not a simple task. Experts, past and present, have contributed a series of tutorials and vision documents that explain each of these standards individually. The repository is growing with each meeting, so if something you are interested is not yet there, it may appear shortly – but you should also not hesitate to request it. You can start your MPEG adventure at http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/
Future MPEG meetings are planned as follows:
- No. 104, Incheon, KR, 22–26, April 2013
- No. 105, Vienna, AT, 29 July – 2 August 2013
- No. 106, Geneva, CH, 28 October – 1 November 2013
- No. 107, San Jose, CA, USA, 13 – 17 January 2014
For further information about MPEG, please contact:
Dr. Leonardo Chiariglione (Convenor of MPEG, Italy)
Via Borgionera, 103
10040 Villar Dora (TO), Italy
Tel: +39 011 935 04 61
The MPEG homepage also has links to other MPEG pages that are maintained by the MPEG subgroups. It also contains links to public documents that are freely available for download by those who are not MPEG members. Journalists that wish to receive MPEG Press Releases by email should contact Dr. Arianne T. Hinds at firstname.lastname@example.org.