August 6, 2012 - 3:48pm

HEVC -- A Brief History

Digital video compression has been around for decades. A little less than twenty years ago, the state of the art was the MPEG-2 standard, which is still widely used today. About ten years ago, the H.264 or Advanced Video Coding (AVC) standard was certified and touted as the “next big thing” in video compression. Today, the industry continues to evolve with the next emerging standard, High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC).

In late 2004, the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) began to seriously study various technology and algorithm improvements that could form the basis for the next generation of video compression standards. These efforts were quite preliminary, but the goal was to provide a 50% bitrate reduction at the same subjective quality as the H.264 High Profile. Most of the contributions to the project were based quite heavily on the H.264 standard and were essentially just modifications of that standard. The project was referred to as “H.265.” H.265 continues to be a widely-used nickname for HEVC, although there has been no confirmation that ITU-T will actually use that number for the HEVC standard.

The ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) began a similar project in 2007, using some of the VCEG work as a reference. In 2009, the two groups decided to merge, and they formed the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding (JCT-VC). The JCT-VC sent out a joint Call for Proposals in January 2010 and held their first meeting in April of 2010. At that meeting, the name High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) was formally adopted for the project and efforts to standardize HEVC began to coalesce.

The first formal milestone of the standardization was the issue of a “Committee Draft Standard,” which was done in February of 2012. This draft was JCT-VC version 6 of the standard and represents a substantial portion of the standardization work. The next formal milestone was the issue of the “Draft International Standard,” which was based on version 8, at the July 2012 meeting in Stockholm.  Finally, the last milestone is the issue of the “Final International Standard,” which is expected to take place at the January 2013 meeting in Geneva. At that point the standard will be sent to the membership for a vote.

Goals & Progress to come 8.12.2012



HEVC -- A Brief History -- Part One