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What Is LCEVC and Why Does it Matter?

Learn more about emerging codecs and standards at Streaming Media's next event.

Watch the complete presentation from Streaming Media West, VES204. LCEVC: The Latest MPEG Standard, in the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Guido Meardi: LCEVC stands for Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding, and it's part of the MPEG-5 suite. It's in particular MPEG-5 Part 2. There's also Part 1, which is a totally different thing. And Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding.

Why would we do such a thing? There are many people that would agree that today, complexity of encoding is becoming a problem. It's becoming unsustainable. It's becoming very costly. And sometimes, especially for live, aside from being costly, makes it very difficult to use a master new codecs.

And in particular, this is a blog that David Ronca, Director of Video. Facebook, now, and previously at Netflix, wrote recently where he had some problems with the thought experiment. What if the next codec that can do compression better was just 50% faster? It probably would be a very successful new codec, even if it doesn't compress better.

What David is talking about is essentially this: That for the past decades, compression codecs advanced quite well in terms of compression efficiency, the blue bars became progressively smaller. Let's not bulk too much into 30%, 50%, whatever, but then became progressively lower and lower. But the price to pay for this better efficiency has been consistently more and more processing power, and lately, this has literally gone through the roof.

For the latest codecs, we're talking about very, very substantial increases. This, of course, also means new devices, no compatibility, problems in delivering in the new codecs and also, ultimately, costs. Costs and trade-offs. But at least it's great, because this advance is inevitable, and the new codecs are extremely good at compression.

At MPEG, there was a long discussion to say, "What if we could do something like this?" A new approach that is not a new codec, it's not yet another codec, because there's already a lot of codecs between the ones that are available today and the ones that are coming very soon. But what if we created something that, whatever the choice of codecs--old or current or new-- made it better and faster, so it improved the compression efficiency a bit, but at the same time, made it more efficient in complexity.

This, of course, would be helpful first of all, because it would be a completely orthogonal approach to anything else, but also it would allow immediately to ride the benefits of better compression, to deliver better quality to more people compatibly with devices that are already around, or new devices that are coming out. And this is the essence of LCEVC.

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