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Understanding the H.266 Codec: The Future of Video Compression

7 min read
H266 Codec

Video streaming has become a massive part of our daily lives. The technology behind it is always improving. At the heart of this technology are codecs, tools used to compress and decompress video files. This makes sending videos quickly over the internet possible without losing too much quality. There are many codecs out there, each designed for different purposes. Some popular ones you might have heard of include H.264 and H.265. But now, a new codec called H.266, also known as Versatile Video Coding (VVC). It’s one of the most advanced codecs, paving the way for the future of video coding. 

Understanding the H.266 codec is important because it promises to deliver higher video quality while using less data, making it perfect for the next generation of video streaming. So, let’s dive into what makes H.266 the future of video compression. 

What is Video Encoding?

Video encoding is the process of converting raw video files into a digital format that can be easily stored, transmitted, and played on various devices. This involves using a video codec, which is a type of software or hardware that compresses and decompresses digital video. The purpose of encoding is to reduce the size of the video file without significantly sacrificing video and image quality.

Advanced video coding (AVC) has been a popular method for encoding video, but as technology progresses, future video coding techniques are being developed to handle higher-quality video formats. These new methods aim to provide even better compression, meaning that videos can take up less space and be streamed faster over the internet.

Maintaining high image quality while minimizing data usage is crucial for video streaming codecs specifically designed for online video playback. The standard video streaming codec must be efficient enough to allow for smooth playback even on slower internet connections while retaining users’ expected high-quality viewing experience. As we look to the future, the continued development of video codecs will be key to improving the world of digital video. 

What is Codec?

A codec is a software or hardware that compresses and decompresses digital media, like videos. When you capture video on a camera or phone, it takes up a lot of space. Codecs help reduce that space by compressing the video, making it easier to store and share. When you want to watch the video, the codec decompresses it so you can see it in good quality.

Codecs use complex algorithms to shrink the size of the video without losing too much quality. They look for parts of the video that stay mostly the same and reduce the information needed to describe those parts. This is called compression. Then, when it’s time to play the video, the codec turns that compressed information back into watchable video, which is decompression.

What is Versatile Video Coding (VVC) or H266 Codec?

Versatile Video Coding (VVC), also known as the H.266 codec, is the latest standard for video compression. Developed to replace its predecessor, H.265/HEVC, VVC aims to provide more efficient video compression, which means it can reduce the file size of video content significantly without losing quality. This is especially important as the demand for high-resolution video, such as 4K and 8K, continues to grow.

The H.266 codec uses advanced compression techniques to achieve its efficiency. It can cut the data requirements of video files by around 50% compared to the previous standard. This reduction is a huge advantage for both storing and transmitting video files. For example, streaming services can deliver high-quality content using less bandwidth, leading to faster streaming and less buffering for viewers.

Moreover, VVC is designed to be versatile, supporting a wide range of applications from streaming video on mobile networks to broadcasting in ultra-high definition (UHD). As more devices and services begin to adopt this new codec, users will benefit from high-quality video content that is easier to download and stream, even on connections with limited data capacity.

The Evolution of Versatile Video Coding (VVC) 

The journey to create the Versatile Video Coding (VVC) codec, a new video compression standard, started with a call for proposals by the Joint Video Experts Team (JVET) in October 2017. This marked the beginning of an ambitious project to develop a more efficient way to compress video files. By April 2018, the team had received various proposals and created the first draft of the VVC standard.

The following year, at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in 2018, a preliminary version of VVC was showcased. This early implementation was impressive; it could compress videos 40% more effectively than its predecessor, the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec. This meant that videos could be made significantly smaller without losing quality, which is great for saving space and speeding up streaming.

After two years of rigorous development and testing, the content of the final VVC standard was approved on July 6, 2020. Throughout this period, the JVET issued several important documents, including a committee draft in July 2019 and a draft international standard in October 2019, before reaching the final standard. This new codec is set to play a crucial role in the future of video compression, making it possible to share and stream high-quality videos more efficiently than ever before. 

Uses of VVC in Video Streaming

Versatile Video Coding, or VVC, is a new tool for encoding videos. It’s mainly used to make video conferencing and streaming services like Netflix or Hulu work better. With VVC, we can enjoy clearer and sharper videos, especially in 4K quality. This is important because, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we all started using online tools more for work, school, and fun. Video calls helped us stay connected with friends and work remotely while streaming services let us watch our favorite movies and shows on big screens at home.

VVC is also excited about something called 360 streaming. This is a way to watch videos that let you look around in all directions like you’re there. It makes videos more engaging and is becoming famous for business meetings and presentations. VVC helps with this, too, making sure that even these super cool 360 videos look great whether you’re watching on a phone or a fancy virtual reality headset. 

Is H.266 or VVC the Standard Codec?

H.266 is not currently a standard codec. A standard codec is widely accepted and used across various devices and platforms. H.266 still needs to be a standard codec because it’s relatively new. It was introduced in 2020, and technology often takes time to become standard as manufacturers and content creators need to adopt it.

Moreover, many devices and services still rely on older codecs like H.264 or H.265, which are more established. For H.266 to become a standard, it must be supported by a broad range of hardware and software, and companies must see a clear benefit in switching to it. Since H.266 promises better compression, meaning higher-quality videos with smaller file sizes, it has the potential to become a standard as demand for high-quality streaming continues to grow.

Benefits of Streaming with VVC

One of the main advantages of streaming with VVC is the substantial improvement in compression efficiency. VVC can reduce data requirements by about 50% compared to its predecessor, H.265/HEVC. This means that high-quality videos, such as 4K or 8K content, can be streamed using less bandwidth, making it more accessible to users with varying internet speeds.

The reduced file size for streaming services translates to lower storage and transmission costs, allowing for a more cost-effective content distribution. Additionally, with the increased efficiency, streaming platforms can offer a more extensive library of high-resolution videos without straining their network infrastructure.

Viewers benefit from streaming high-quality content with fewer interruptions and buffering, even on networks with limited bandwidth. This enhances the viewing experience, especially for those who enjoy watching movies and TV shows in the best possible resolution. Furthermore, VVC’s improved compression helps reduce data consumption for mobile users, which is crucial given the growing trend of consuming media on portable devices. 


H.266, also known as Versatile Video Coding, is a strong tool for video compression, but it’s still gaining popularity. More devices and services will support it in the future.

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