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High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) Explained

11 min read
What is H265

The world of video streaming has seen some major advancements in technology. One of the most significant changes is the introducing of a new video compression standard known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding). Also known as H.265, this standard is a big step in improving video quality.

With HEVC, videos can be compressed more effectively, leading to an average bitrate reduction. This means that you can enjoy higher-quality video without needing more storage or using up more data.

HEVC is especially useful for streaming video on mobile devices, where data usage and processing power are often limited. So, whether watching a video sequence on your phone or streaming a live event, HEVC can make it look better and run smoother.

In this post, we’ll explain how HEVC works, its key features, and how it supports better streaming quality. So, let’s dive in and learn more about HEVC!

What is a Video Codec?

A video codec is a software tool that compresses and decompresses digital video. Simply put, it changes the video files to make them smaller or back to their original form. Video encoding is necessary for streaming, where videos must be sent over the internet quickly. Some examples of video codecs are H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC). These codecs help maintain high visual quality while reducing file size, making streaming videos on mobile phones or laptops easier.

What is High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)?

High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H 265, is a new video compression standard designed to offer improved video quality and a higher average bitrate reduction.

HEVC format support is becoming more common in many devices, including mobile devices and content capture systems. This is because HEVC codec can offer the same quality video at a lower bitrate or higher quality video at the same bitrate. This makes it a great choice for streaming video, as it can reduce file size while maintaining high quality.

HEVC is a powerful video compression technology. It can help improve the quality of video streams while reducing the file size. This makes it a great choice for anyone who streams live video.

How Does HEVC Improve Video Compression?

HEVC is making waves in the world of video streaming. It’s designed to offer improved video quality and a more efficient way of compressing video data.

The video compression process involves reducing a video sequence’s file size without compromising its picture quality. This is achieved by removing redundant information in the video data. HEVC takes this process a step further by using a more advanced method of compression known as coding tree unit.

In the older H.264 standard, videos are divided into macroblocks for compression. However, HEVC uses coding tree units, which can be larger or smaller than macroblocks, allowing more flexibility and efficiency in compressing video sequences.

The key features of HEVC that make it stand out include its ability to deliver the same quality video as H.264 but at a lower bit rate. This means you can stream higher-quality video with the same amount of data. This is particularly beneficial for streaming video on mobile devices where data usage is often limited.

HEVC codecs also have built-in support for high dynamic range (HDR) and other advanced video features. This means it can deliver better visual quality and more detailed video content.

However, using HEVC does require more computing power. This is because encoding and decoding HEVC video sequences is more complex than with older video coding standards. But with the increasing power of modern devices, this is becoming less of an issue.

Key Features of HEVC

Improved Coding Efficiency

HEVC, also known as High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), is a new video compression standard that offers improved video quality. One of the key features of HEVC is its improved coding efficiency. Compared to the widely used H.264, HEVC aims to cut the bitrate requirements by half while maintaining the same picture quality. This means you can enjoy high-quality videos without using too much of your device’s computing power.

Compression Ratio

Another standout feature of HEVC is its impressive compression ratio. HEVC can achieve a data compression ratio of up to 1000:1, depending on your needs. This means you can store more videos on your device without worrying about running out of space.

Support for Higher Resolution

HEVC is built for the future. It supports higher-resolution videos, perfect for next-generation HDTV displays and content capture systems. You can expect clear and high-quality video sequences whether you’re watching videos on your mobile device or on a large screen.

Improved Parallel Processing

HEVC is not just about high-quality videos. It’s also about efficiency. HEVC uses improved parallel processing methods to enhance the speed at which videos are processed. This means that you can stream videos in real-time without any lag.

Video Coding Layer

HEVC uses a hybrid approach for its video coding layer. This involves using inter-/intra-picture prediction and 2D transform coding. This approach helps to improve the visual quality of the videos.

Color Spaces

HEVC supports a wide range of color spaces. This means that you can enjoy videos with vibrant and true-to-life colors. Whether watching a movie or a live stream, you can expect great picture quality with HEVC.

Coding Tools

HEVC introduces new coding tools to improve coding efficiency. One of these tools is the Coding Tree Unit (CTU), which replaces macroblocks. This allows for larger block structures and improved coding efficiency.

Parallel Processing Tools

HEVC uses parallel processing tools to enhance the speed at which videos are processed. These tools include tiles and wavefront parallel processing (WPP), which divide the picture into rectangular regions that can be independently processed.

Entropy Coding

HEVC uses context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding (CABAC) for entropy coding. This allows for higher throughput compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.

Intra Prediction

HEVC offers improved intra-prediction capabilities compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. It specifies 33 intra-prediction modes, including directional modes, DC intra-prediction, and planar prediction.

Motion Compensation

HEVC uses fractional luma sample interpolation with 8-tap and 7-tap filters for improved precision. It also supports weighted prediction with uni-prediction and bi-prediction.

Motion Vector Prediction

HEVC introduces Advanced Motion Vector Prediction (AMVP) and merge mode for motion vector prediction. This allows for increased precision in predicting the motion of video sequences.

Loop Filters

HEVC specifies two loop filters, deblocking filter (DBF) and sample adaptive offset (SAO), applied sequentially for inter-picture prediction.

Range Extensions

HEVC introduces range extensions supporting bit depths beyond 10, intra profiles for random-access decoding speed, and still picture profiles for high-efficiency image file formats.

HEVC Version 2 and SCC Extensions

HEVC Version 2 and SCC Extensions add supplemental enhancement information (SEI) messages, including color remapping, knee function, mastering display color volume, and time code.

Fourth Version Enhancements

The fourth version of HEVC adds SEI messages for alternative transfer characteristics information and ambient viewing environment. It also supports the hybrid log–gamma (HLG) transfer function and the ICtCp color matrix, allowing compatibility with HDR transfer functions.

Key Benefits of HEVC

  • HEVC (h 265) is a new video compression standard that offers improved video quality.
  • It provides an average bitrate reduction, allowing for higher-quality video at the same bitrate.
  • HEVC support is growing, especially in mobile devices and content capture systems.
  • It maintains high visual quality while requiring less processing power.
  • HEVC can reduce file size without compromising video quality, making it ideal for live streaming.
  • It also offers advanced features like high dynamic range and built-in support for various file formats.
  • With the right hardware support, HEVC can provide real-time video streaming.

Use Cases for the HEVC Codec

HEVC codec is used in various applications, from streaming to video conferencing. Here are some of the key uses for the HEVC codec.

4K and Ultra HD Streaming

One of the main uses of the HEVC codec is for 4K and Ultra HD streaming. This codec offers a higher-quality video and a lower bit rate, perfect for streaming high-quality videos. The HEVC codec can reduce file size while maintaining high visual quality, making it ideal for streaming 4K and Ultra HD content.

Live Streaming

Live streaming is another area where the HEVC codec shines. With its advanced video compression technology, the HEVC codec can deliver live video streams with less delay and higher quality. This makes it great for live-streaming events, sports, and other real-time video content.

Virtual Reality (VR) and 360-degree Videos

The HEVC codec is also used in Virtual Reality (VR) and 360-degree videos. These types of videos require more computing power and higher quality video. The HEVC codec’s coding efficiency and improved video quality make it a good fit for VR and 360-degree video content.

Mobile Streaming

Mobile devices often have limited processing power and data plans. The HEVC codec’s ability to deliver high-quality video with a lower bit rate makes it a great choice for mobile streaming. With built-in support for the HEVC codec, mobile devices can stream high-quality video without using too much data or battery power.

OTT (Over-The-Top) Services

OTT services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, use the HEVC codec to deliver high-quality video content. The HEVC codec’s ability to reduce file sizes while maintaining high quality makes it ideal for OTT services. This allows these services to offer a wide range of video content, from movies to TV shows, with great picture quality.

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Adaptive bitrate streaming is a technique used in streaming video that adjusts the quality of a video stream in real-time based on network conditions. The HEVC codec’s ability to deliver high-quality video at a lower bit rate makes it a great choice for adaptive bitrate streaming. This allows viewers to enjoy a smooth, high-quality video stream, even in less-than-ideal network conditions.

Video Conferencing and Telepresence

HEVC codec is used in video conferencing and telepresence systems. These systems require high-quality video and low latency, both of which are strengths of the HEVC codec. Using the HEVC codec, video conferencing, and telepresence systems can deliver a better user experience with clear, smooth video and audio.

How Does HEVC Deal at Lower Bitrates?

HEVC is great for streaming video because it can give you higher quality video but with a lower bitrate.

In simple words, bitrate is the amount of data a video uses in a certain amount of time. So, a lower bitrate means the video uses less data. This is helpful if you’re watching videos on mobile devices or your internet is slow.

HEVC is good at dealing with lower bit rates because of its key features. One of these is the coding tree unit. This is a fancy way of saying that HEVC breaks down the video into smaller parts. It then looks at each part and determines the best way to compress it. This helps to maintain high quality while using less data.

Another important thing is that HEVC has built-in support for high dynamic range (HDR). It can show more colors and better picture quality, even at lower bitrates.

So, if you want to stream videos with less data but still want good quality, HEVC is a great choice.

HEVC vs AVC: Is HEVC better than H264(AVC)?

Regarding video quality and file size, HEVC (H.265) and AVC (H.264) are two widely used video codecs. But is HEVC better than H.264? Yes, it is!

HEVC is a new video compression standard that offers improved video quality. It can reduce file size by about half, compared to H.264, while maintaining the same quality. This is a big deal for streaming video, meaning less data is used.

HEVC also has better hardware support. More and more mobile devices and content capture systems are starting to support HEVC. This means you can play HEVC videos on your Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player, or even on your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

However, HEVC does need more computing power to work. This is because it uses advanced video coding methods, like coding tree units and entropy coding. But, the higher quality video and smaller file sizes make it worth it.

So, if you want higher-quality video and smaller file sizes, HEVC is the way to go. Just make sure your device can handle it!

Final Thoughts: HEVC is the future & AVC is the Present

In simple terms, HEVC is the future of video streaming. It’s a new video compression standard that promises improved video quality. However, it’s not perfect. One big problem is that not all devices can play HEVC videos. For example, older mobile devices and computers might need built-in support or processing power to handle HEVC. This is where AVC, also known as H.264, comes in.

AVC is a video codec that’s widely used today. It’s not as advanced as HEVC but is more compatible with current devices. Most content capture systems, like cameras and phones, can use AVC. Most media players, including Windows Media Player and VLC Media Player, can play AVC videos.

So, while HEVC might be the future, AVC is still very much the Present. It’s a reliable choice for video encoding, offering good video quality and wide device support. As we move forward, we expect to see more support for HEVC. But for now, AVC is a safe bet for most of us.

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