A new video encoding standard that reduces video file sizes by 50% is set to become usable by the end of the year, allowing high-resolution footage to be saved with smaller file sizes and to be transmitted in less time. H.266/VVC (Versatile Video Coding) follows on from the current H.265 compression standard and was developed by Fraunhofer HHI alongside companies such as Sony, Apple, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Ericsson.

The idea of the new standard is to compress files so that 4K and 8K footage become easier and quicker to move, particularly over slower network connections. The effect should be that all video footage takes up less space on a memory card and can be copied over to a hard disk in less time, all while using less computer power. That footage can also be posted online, to external storage, sent to a third party or streamed more quickly/easily due to the reduced file size.

The new H.266 standard will also allow systems or locations with poor data rates to receive larger files more quickly, so movies, for example, will buffer less and play more smoothly. Mobile devices will also be able to send higher resolution files, or longer clips, without using so much data.

Fraunhofer says that ‘H.266/VVC offers faster video transmission for equal perceptual quality,’ so we shouldn’t see the difference between files compressed by H.266 and those compressed using H.265. H.265 also halved file sizes when it was introduced, as did the H.264 standard that came before that — and which is still in use today.

The new standard requires new chips to make the most of it, and the press release states that they are already in production and that Fraunhofer will release the software to allow the standard to be used in the autumn of this year. For more information see the Fraunhofer website.

Press release:

Fraunhofer HHI is proud to present the new state-of-the-art in global video coding: H.266/VVC brings video transmission to new speed

After devoting several years to its research and standardization, Fraunhofer HHI (together with partners from industry including Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony) is celebrating the release and official adoption of the new global video coding standard H.266/Versatile Video Coding (VVC). This new standard offers improved compression, which reduces data requirements by around 50% of the bit rate relative to the previous standard H.265/High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) without compromising visual quality. In other words, H.266/VVC offers faster video transmission for equal perceptual quality. Overall, H.266/VVC provides efficient transmission and storage of all video resolutions from SD to HD up to 4K and 8K, while supporting high dynamic range video and omnidirectional 360° video.

Today, compressed video data make up 80% of global Internet traffic. H.266/VVC represents the pinnacle of (at least) four generations of international standards for video coding. The previous standards H.264/Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and H.265/HEVC, which were produced with substantial contributions from Fraunhofer HHI, remain active in more than 10 billion end devices, processing over 90% of the total global volume of video bits. Both previous standards were also recognized by collectively three Emmy Engineering Awards for contributing substantially to the progress of television technology.

Through a reduction of data requirements, H.266/VVC makes video transmission in mobile networks (where data capacity is limited) more efficient. For instance, the previous standard H.265/HEVC requires ca. 10 gigabytes of data to transmit a 90-min UHD video. With this new technology, only 5 gigabytes of data are required to achieve the same quality. Because H.266/VVC was developed with ultra-high-resolution video content in mind, the new standard is particularly beneficial when streaming 4K or 8K videos on a flat screen TV. Furthermore, H.266/VVC is ideal for all types of moving images: from high-resolution 360° video panoramas to screen sharing contents.

“After dedicating almost three years toward this standard, we are proud to have been instrumental in developing H.266/VVC,” says Benjamin Bross, head of the Video Coding Systems group at Fraunhofer HHI and editor of the +500-page standard specification of H.266/VVC. “Because of the quantum leap in coding efficiency offered by H.266/VVC, the use of video will increase further worldwide. Moreover, the increased versatility of H.266/VVC makes its use more attractive for a broader range of applications related to the transmission and storage of video.”

“If you consider that Fraunhofer HHI already played a key role in the development of the previous video coding standards H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC, then we are happy with the fact that more than 50% of the bits on the Internet are generated by a Fraunhofer HHI technology,” adds Dr. Detlev Marpe, head of the Video Coding and Analytics department at Fraunhofer HHI.

A uniform and transparent licensing model based on the FRAND principle (i.e., fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) is planned to be established for the use of standard essential patents related to H.266/VVC. For this purpose, the Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF) was founded. In addition to Fraunhofer Society, the MC-IF now includes +30 companies and organizations. The new chips required for the use of H.266/VVC, such as those in mobile devices, are currently being designed. Dr. Thomas Schierl, head of the Video Coding and Analytics department at Fraunhofer HHI, announced “this autumn Fraunhofer HHI will publish the first software (for both encoder and decoder) to support H.266/VVC.”

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