The US Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has awarded a Primetime Emmy for outstanding achievement in engineering to the expert group responsible for ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’, the video compression standard that has emerged as the primary coding format for Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TV.
The award is the second Primetime Emmy to recognize the prestige of the video coding work driven in collaboration by the three leading international standards bodies, ITU, ISO and IEC.
Video now accounts for 80 per cent of all consumer Internet traffic. The majority of this video is coded using ITU-ISO-IEC international standards.
The Primetime Emmy honours the achievements of the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding, a team of experts representing the ITU Video Coding Experts Group of ITU-T Study Group 16 and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group of ISO/IEC JTC1 Subcommittee 29.
The video innovation of recent decades has achieved massive leaps forward in video quality. Video has also become more accessible, helping people worldwide to share their stories in vivid moving pictures.
Our multimedia-rich communications experience is built on international technical standards that give innovators the confidence to invest in new applications and services.
“Ultimately you have to have a technology that is both capable scientifically and also economic, widely deployed and accessible to the people who want to use it,” says Microsoft’s Gary Sullivan, who co-chairs the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding alongside Jens-Rainer Ohm of the Institute for Communications Engineering at RWTH Aachen University in Germany.
Almost all video we view, over any medium, is coded using the video compression standards developed in collaboration by ITU, ISO and IEC.
These voluntary video compression standards meet industry demand for sophisticated compression capabilities. They also enable a natural, economically viable evolution of video compression technology. Widespread conformance to these standards ensures that video encoded on one device can be decoded by another, regardless of device brand. This introduces economies of scale essential to market growth.
The video compression algorithms standardized by ITU, ISO and IEC are at the heart of increasing screen resolutions. They are also central to industry’s ability to meet rising demand for video, one of the most bandwidth-intensive applications running over global networks.
“We want higher resolution video, higher frame rates, more realistic pictures… There is always a drive for higher quality, which always means more data,” explains Gary Sullivan. “That’s a huge pressure on the Internet and all other global networks transmitting video, so it’s tremendously important to do whatever you can to improve compression over time.”
1984 welcomed the arrival of ITU H.120, the world’s first standard for digital video compression. Digital video began to enter the mainstream in the 1990s supported by ITU H.261, a standard built on a design that went on to form the basis of all future international video compression standards.
ITU, ISO and IEC joined forces to deliver ITU H.262 | MPEG-2 Part 2 in 1995, providing a novel digital video compression standard which offered essential stimulus to the commercialization of DVD and Digital TV. The late 90s also played host to the rise of online video streaming, supported in large part by ITU H.263, a standard initially designed for videoconferencing.
The video coding collaboration of ITU, ISO and IEC now boasts over two decades of industry-defining standardization work.
ITU H.264 | MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) – first released in 2003 – is credited with unlocking significant advances in video spanning HDTV to 3G mobile multimedia, a contribution to TV engineering recognized with a Primetime Emmy award in 2008. AVC enabled improvements in video quality to an extent that motivated the definition of the term ‘High Definition’. The standard remains the most deployed video compression standard worldwide.
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, published as ITU H.265 | ISO/IEC 23008-2) was released in 2013 to support the next decade of innovation in video. It supports more video at higher quality on the available bandwidth. HEVC needs only half the bit rate of H.264 | MPEG-4 AVC, delivering an HD viewing experience while concurrently enabling operators to utilize network capacity more efficiently. The standard has proven especially valuable in accelerating the rollout of UHD.
Learn more about the history of international video compression standards in a new video.