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Get the low-down ... On high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265) compression by Keith Wymbs T he high-efficiency video coding (HEVC/H.265) compression codec, which was standardized earlier this year, brings broadcasters and other content distributors multiple opportunities, including: • Decreased bandwidth enabling the addition of more channels and increased quality while lowering bitrates. • Improved consumer quality of experience. • The ability to stretch storage capacity for large content libraries. • A significant reduction in operating expenses associated with multiscreen content delivery networks. HEVC/H.265 also is expected to usher in new revenue opportunities. Chief among these are new over- the-top (OTT) delivery and 4K Ultra HD services. For example, broadcasters and content owners using H.264 encoding today for OTT will want to leverage bandwidth savings enabled by HEVC to distribute more content via their CDN and to increase overall quality while lowering bitrates and thus overall costs. A powerful example of the potential for HEVC/H.265 is 4K Ultra HD. The bandwidth required for H.264 compressed 4K content (20+ Mbps) 62 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013 is prohibitive. Designed to deliver an average bit rate reduction of up to 50% compared to H.264, HEVC shrinks bitrates required for 4K to potentially less than 10 Mbps and delivers a smooth and immersive viewing experience. “4K and Ultra High Definition will be very important, especially for live sports in the coming years, and HEVC compression will be critical to making 4K cost effective, reach multiscreen devices and not use too much distribution bandwidth,” observes Tom Morrod, research director for consumer electronics and video technology at IHS. “With the upcoming World Cup and Winter Olympics, the industry needs successful real-time demonstrations of 4K video delivery and HEVC.” Elemental’s award-winning HEVC/H.265 implementation allows for delivery of 4K content at greatly reduced bitrates. THE OBSTACLES As with any major, disruptive technology, there are obstacles associated with widespread HEVC/H.265 adoption. First and foremost among these is the lack of HEVC playback availability. Real-time HEVC encoding is a key missing element within video processing vendors’ solutions – with the exception of Elemental. Currently, there is a lot of discussion about HEVC encoding, but only Elemental is delivery a fully functional implementation across our entire file, live and Cloud product lines. And then there’s the cost consideration. Easing the transition to HEVC within legacy MPEG-2 and H.264 infrastructures, software- upgradeable solutions from Elemental can incorporate these new compression approaches much more quickly than existing fixed hardware encoding platforms. A GIANT LEAP FORWARD A huge step toward more pervasive 4K was taken in late October 2013 when leading Japanese telco K-Opticom (K-OPT) used HEVC video processing software from Elemental to successfully deliver the world’s first real-time 4K transmission using the new compression standard. Elemental streamed the entire eight-plus-hour Osaka Marathon for K-Opticom (K-OPT), with stunning, clear and very detailed output to a Sony 4K Bravia TV. Elemental’s award-winning H.265 solution makes it possible to smoothly transmit 4K images across wideband networks provided by operators like K-Opticom at greatly reduced bitrates.