MPEG releases H.265 draft, promises twice the video quality by 2013

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
The Motion Pictures Expert Group has issued a new video standards draft that promises to deliver twice the video quality at the same size, or alternatively, identical video quality at half the data rate as today's MPEG-4 H.264 standard.

The new H.265 draft specifically addresses mobile devices and networks overloaded with video. Products using the new H.265 video compression standard could begin to launch as early as next year.

Apple is likely to quickly adopt support for the new H.265 specification, just as it has rapidly rolled out support for new features of H.264, including support for expanded H.264 profiles in the new third generation Apple TV and the New iPad.

MPEG, formed by the International Standards Organization in 1988, first developed a joint video compression format in 1993 intended for Video CD. Its video codec, H.261, was used to deliver multimedia video clips. The audio portion of that standard, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (also known as MP3) revolutionized the portability of music by allowing users to rip CDs to files that could be compressed enough to be used in mobile devices with limited storage.

Apple promotes MPEG at the expense of proprietary codecs

Apple backed MP3 with the iPod in 2001 at a time when Microsoft and Sony were working to entrench their own proprietary standards with strong DRM (Windows Media and ATRAC, respectively).

MPEG released the MPEG-2 standard in 1994, which enabled high quality DVD and efficient digital TV transmissions. MPEG-2 incorporated the initial H.261 video compression standard as well as a more efficient H.262 and, later, the H.263 ASP codec implemented by DivX and Xvid, popular formats used for video file sharing. Work on an MPEG-3 standard aimed at HDTV was abandoned and folded into the MPEG-2 portfolio.

MPEG-4, initiated in 1998 and released in 2003, merged the television and video industry's expertise with work pioneered by Apple's QuickTime on desktop computers, resulting in a video format that incorporated Apple's QuickTime container format. This helped to simplify video editing tasks, even as Apple began adopting advanced bidirectional compression technologies in QuickTime that had been contributed to the MPEG-4 pool by the rest of the industry.



MPEG-4 carried forward H.263, which Apple hadn't ever widely used, while also introducing H.264, which enabled a doubling of video quality at the same size as the earlier H.263 codec.

Before MPEG-4, Apple had previously used proprietary video codecs from Sorenson in QuickTime, but rapidly began adopting MPEG standards as the pooled efforts of every major company with video expertise began to quickly outpace the development of alternatives.

Apple helped to popularize MPEG-4's AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format as a more efficient replacement for MP3 in iTunes, then brought MPEG-4's H.264 video compression into the desktop computing mainstream as the default video codec in QuickTime. It is now essentially the only video standard supported by the iPhone and other iOS devices, and H.264 is deeply integrated into the architecture of QuickTime.

While MPEG itself usually refers to its MPEG-4 audio and video standards as AAC and AVC, Steve Jobs introduced the new video standard to the world as H.264, and Apple continued to refer to it by its ITU numerical designation. MPEG is now referring to its newest H.265 standard as "HEVC" (High Efficiency Video Coding).

The war on MPEG-4 H.264

In 2009, a consortium of web browser vendors led by Mozilla and Opera began to oppose MPEG's H.264 for use on the web to deliver video after Apple, Nokia and Microsoft recommended it as an alternative to plugin based video delivery (typically Adobe Flash) in the emerging HTML5 specification.

Mozilla recommended the open source Ogg Theora instead, despite the format's inability to play back efficiently on mobile devices (which all have H.264 hardware compression, but rarely support anything else) and its much lower technical sophistication compared to H.264.

Google joined the fight in in 2010 after acquiring the proprietary VP8 codec and releasing it as WebM, a free, open alternative to H.264, albeit without any certification of protection from future patent claims.

Google insisted that the patent licensing required by H.264 made it incompatible with the open nature of the web, but the WebM alternative it offered was immediately accused of infringing the patents H.264 incorporates.

Google subsequently acquired Motorola Mobility, gaining ownership of several patents essential to H.264. It has used these patents to seek import injunctions and demand billions in licensing royalties from Microsoft and Apple as leverage against patent infringement claims targeting Android.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 91
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    I'm not one for modern or mainstream music, but "let's get it started, hot, let's get it started, in here."


     


    Who else thinks iTunes might support this come the September/October update? Who else thinks Apple will start converting all of their iTunes video content to HEVC to be completed by the end of next year?

     


    And most importantly, who has a guess for when HandBrake will support this so that I can get my terabyte of content shaved down?

  • Reply 2 of 91

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I'm not one for modern or mainstream music, but "let's get it started, hot, let's get it started, in here."


     


    Who else thinks iTunes might support this come the September/October update? Who else thinks Apple will start converting all of their iTunes video content to HEVC to be completed by the end of next year?

     


    And most importantly, who has a guess for when HandBrake will support this so that I can get my terabyte of content shaved down?



    Apple's not gonna start converting shit until there's Universal hardware support, hell even the latest GPUs and CPUs don't support H.265, and do you know how much processing it would take on regular hardware using a software based decoder? you'd get like 2 frames a second on a good day.


     


    I don't know about you, but it takes about 3 days for my computer to compress a BD rip to an 8-12gb rip... Now imagine all the new algorithms and complexity aded to H.265 to make it the same quality at half the bit rate...

  • Reply 3 of 91
    On a high-end PC/Mac you could decode H.265. The bitch is encoding. Also the talk about bandwidth savings is currently a crock. You have to have hardware capable of doing a very high quality encode to see those kinds of gains. Most of the first to market solutions will not yield as much savings as you can trade off bandwith savings to lower the demands on your encoding. Since many solutions will either be general CPU or DSP based, people will take that trade off.

    Can't wait for h.265 since it will be better, but the hardware is a probably a couple years out to do this in mobile devices. I can see something like a 16-core have a go at it with half the cores though.
  • Reply 4 of 91
    While we are on the subject of standards...nevermind, just nevermind. I was going to mention "4G"
  • Reply 5 of 91
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Split the difference please! Videos encoded a bit smaller yet also a bit higher-quality would be great. My awful AT&T DSL is just SLIGHTLY too slow for much of the video on the web these days.
  • Reply 6 of 91
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

    Split the difference please! Videos encoded a bit smaller yet also a bit higher-quality would be great.


     


    HEVC gives smaller file sizes at higher bitrates. No need to split it when you get both!

  • Reply 7 of 91
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member


    I would rather see mkv support coming to iOS before this...

  • Reply 8 of 91
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,765member


    YAY! Another codec we have to deal with in post production.  The size reduction is welcome, the extreme processing overhead is not.  


     


    Since is only draft at this point won't it be quite some time before we see this in use?  Certainly hardware acceleration is way far off.

  • Reply 9 of 91
    d-ranged-range Posts: 396member
    If Google would have it their way, investments in technological advancements like this would probably not be possible, since everyone was still using an inferior h.264 knockoff codec because it's supposedly 'more open and free' :-/

    I can't wait until this becomes mainstream, with hardware codec support. A good Blu-Ray encode is around 8-10 GB right now, and while I'm not particularly bothered by the file size, the quality of such an encode is decidedly worse than a Blu-Ray disc. Same bitrate double the quality please :-)
  • Reply 10 of 91
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by mausz View Post

    I would rather see mkv support coming to iOS before this...


     


    That isn't happening ever. Convert your stuff.

  • Reply 11 of 91
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    I'm not one for modern or mainstream music, but "let's get it started, hot, let's get it started, in here."

    Who else thinks iTunes might support this come the September/October update? Who else thinks Apple will start converting all of their iTunes video content to HEVC to be completed by the end of next year?

    Who thinks they will go for same quality at lower size because the ignorant studios won't let them do true blu-ray quality with all the audio etc as it would hurt disc sales

    But that is exactly what we need. Along with global releases especially of tv shows (within the month of first OTA on shows and same day if not before disc release on movies), everything in the highest quality possible. Get Extras to work on iOS. Drop everything down to the SD only price but for all size options etc. And all 'in the cloud' with control over immediate download or streaming on all devices. And on tv shows get the nets to add those funds to the ratings for deciding what stays and goes. Do that and torrent usage would go down a great deal since it destroys all the reasons casual users give to justify why they do it.
  • Reply 12 of 91
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

    Do that and torrent usage would go down a great deal since it destroys all the reasons casual users give to justify why they do it.


     


    Imagine the uproar when torrents start moving to HEVC from MP4. They whined like newborns when AVI was finally dropped, and that was completely worthless. image

  • Reply 13 of 91
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    I don't know about you, but it takes about 3 days for my computer to compress a BD rip to an 8-12gb rip... Now imagine all the new algorithms and complexity aded to H.265 to make it the same quality at half the bit rate...
    That's encoding, not decoding, which always takes more resources. And who knows what decoding would take or what Apple has in the pipeline. They could be working on a new Apple TV set box which could handle this that would be out for the holidays. They would likely slowly bring this into the game starting with big name releases or just one or two studios, perhaps as a Super1080 option that would slowly replaced the current 1080 on back titles. Perhaps this would have the power to make digital 3D releases possible and they might start with that. Say with all the Disney/Pixar titles that a being converted. I would pay the current $19.99 digital price if it came with SD, 720, 1080 and 10803D especially if it had several language and subtitle tracks, the disc features etc,
  • Reply 14 of 91
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    HEVC gives smaller file sizes at higher bitrates. No need to split it when you get both!

    Right now iTunes is giving us 1080p that is about the quarter of the bitrate as a BluRay with way less quality on the audio. If they could do true BluRay with only like a 10% size increase many would go or that. Especially if they kept the current 1080 option in play. Hell they could probably get the current 720 down small enough that the SD option could be phased out
  • Reply 15 of 91
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    Imagine the uproar when torrents start moving to HEVC from MP4. They whined like newborns when AVI was finally dropped, and that was completely worthless. :lol:

    The casual folks really don't care about such things, especially if they we finally motived to go to legal sources.

    The diehards will gripe about everything.
  • Reply 16 of 91
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post



    Split the difference please! Videos encoded a bit smaller yet also a bit higher-quality would be great. My awful AT&T DSL is just SLIGHTLY too slow for much of the video on the web these days.


    I have noticed video issues a lot lately even though I have really fast connections. It seems quite often with streaming video, it doesn't cache. It just buffers a little and starts playing, but as soon as it plays it apparently flushes the cache behind the play head. Somethings if it stalls and if you try to back up the progress bar, it will start buffering again and often never fully recovers to playing smoothly.


     


    I remember not that long ago that video would stream, but once the file was downloaded it stayed in the cache for days so if you wanted to watch it again it started immediately and played smoothly all the way through spooling directly from the hard disk. I don't think it works like that anymore.


     


    I don't know if it is HTML5, H.264 or perhaps a setting in Safari that is causing the frequent flakiness of web video streaming. Mostly Youtube video plays smoothly enough so it may just be video from servers that can't deliver enough throughput, but it is frustrating when you have 10 Mb (home) and 100 Mb (office) and you still get stalled or stuttering video way too often.

  • Reply 17 of 91
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    I'm not one for modern or mainstream music, but "let's get it started, hot, let's get it started, in here."

    Who else thinks iTunes might support this come the September/October update? Who else thinks Apple will start converting all of their iTunes video content to HEVC to be completed by the end of next year?

     
    And most importantly, who has a guess for when HandBrake will support this so that I can get my terabyte of content shaved down?

    You only have a Terabyte you lucky thing? Hopefully the answer to all above is ASAP.
  • Reply 18 of 91
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    mausz wrote: »
    I would rather see mkv support coming to iOS before this...


    At least Airplay supports mkv streamed flawlessly from VLC via Apple TV in Mountain Lion or AirParrot on older Macs.
  • Reply 19 of 91
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    HEVC gives smaller file sizes at higher bitrates. No need to split it when you get both!



     


    I don't think you meant to say that.  File sizes are determined by bitrate (multiplied by time).  I think you meant to say that HEVC gives higher quality at lower bitrates.  There is a split decision to be made.  You could get half the bitrate at the same quality, or improve the quality and get less of an improvement on the bitrate.


     


    Or you could scale quality based on connection, potentially even user selectable.  For example, streaming over 3G/4G where one may be charged per GB, one might want to go with a forced lower quality.  At home, where one may have unlimited data (or never hit their cap), one might go with dynamic scaling and get the best quality their connection is capable of.

  • Reply 20 of 91
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    You only have a Terabyte you lucky thing? Hopefully the answer to all above is ASAP.


     


    Oh, it's more, but much of it's not mine and all that would be on discs still. All I want is for the Apple TV to support a hard drive with a standard iTunes Library file structure when just the hard drive (not iTunes the application, not a computer ON and iTunes RUNNING on it) is connected to an AirPort (it wouldn't even have to be third party router support!) on the same network. 


     


    Once that happens, I buy three Apple TVs on day one and two 4TB hard drives on day two. Rip all my family's discs, convert to HEVC files, get them looking gorgeous in iTunes with subtitles, metadata, chapters, and artwork, and then clone the first drive and plop it on the network standalone.


     


    That's all I want, Apple. NAiTL (Network Attached iTunes Libraries).

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