Jan Outters, Director of Technology and Standards at Ateme and co-Chair of DVB, has been quite the mover and shaker with his innovative contributions to Ateme, his role with DVB, and his most recent webinars and panels about the latest in video technology. In this latest article, Jan takes time out of his full schedule to give us the inside scoop about the evolution of video codecs, DVB, and sustainability.
Sustainability and the Future of TV and Video Codecs
Spring 2023 sprang into action with a host of webinars, panel discussions, and presentations. Prior to DVB World 2023, which took place June 22 in Brussels, I had the pleasure of joining other industry experts to speak about sustainability, VVC, and the future of TV and video codecs.
Sustainability has been a top priority for Ateme for years. Since the pandemic and the energy crisis, we have seen that the quest to consume fewer resources is critical to avoid immediate disruption. Fortunately, several technologies are currently being developed, and new energy-saving concepts brought to life.
I recently discussed some of these in several panels. Mid-May saw me in Boston speaking at the Content Delivery Summit on “Is Sustainability in Content Delivery Sustainable?” A couple of days later, I headed to Streaming Media East to discuss “Sustainability Beyond Greenwashing.” I then crossed the border to speak in Vancouver at the First International ACM Green Multimedia Systems Workshop on “Audience-Aware Streaming: New Dynamics in OTT Distribution.” My speaking tour ended back in Europe, at the 10th FOKUS Media Web Symposium, to talk about “Green Streaming.”
During these panel sessions, I was excited to explain what has already been done when it comes to going green, where Ateme is headed, notably through Audience-Aware Streaming, and what challenges the industry is facing as a whole to achieve tangible results. Indeed, measuring the end-to-end environmental impact and establishing standard consumer codes seems like a milestone to reach. However, partial results are already available.
Next-Generation Video Codec VVC
At Streaming Media East 2023, I discussed VVC encoding for live streaming in the workshop “VVC: Ready for Action? A Comprehensive Guide to Deployment & Implementation.” This workshop gave an excellent overview of the VVC ecosystem. For example, priorities during the development of the standard, how HDR fits into VVC, and the newest available solutions. I had the opportunity to offer insight on how we look at the implementation of new codecs from an encoder vendor’s point of view, delivered details on the VVC trials we have conducted since 2020, and finally presented the status of DVB, ATSC, and STVBD.
The Next Generation of Television
During a DVB World webinar, Jason Power (Dolby, Chair DVB CM-AVC), Paul Szucs (Sony, Vice Chair DVB TM-AVC), and I (Ateme, Vice-Chair DVB CM-AVC), attended a quickfire panel discussion about the next generation video codecs for OTT and broadcast television. This DVB teaser summarized where DVB stands with respect to next-generation video codecs. Work on this began in 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2024. However, some milestones, such as the VVC and AVS3 specifications, have already been achieved.
The Evolution of Video Codecs
Finally, in a webinar on “Defining the Evolution of Video Codecs: New Trends in Media and Compression,” we addressed important questions regarding ecosystem aspects for newer video codecs. How is the market evolving with respect to codecs, for example. Or will we stay in a multi-codec world? How do the elements of the chain cope with it? What are the applications for newer codecs? My co-panelists Edouard Francois, Interdigital and Justin Ridge, Nokia, provided great insight into the development of video standards for JVET and ITU, and added perspective on AI usage for video compression. I was pleased to share the viewpoint of the encoder vendor and some experiences from the manufacturer’s side.
Expanding the Video Universe at DVB World 2023
DVB World 2023 provided the perfect opportunity to get together face-to-face with many of my colleagues. It had been a long time, even the first for some. In addition to its social perks, it was also great to exchange notes about the status of our ongoing work within DVB and ideas for the future. Adding to the highlights of DVB-I, my personal faves included:
- What is DVB’s role in object-based media and to what extent is personalization desired?
- The status around the DVB study mission and the proposed use case was discussed, with findings from object audio and companion screens used as a base. The challenge is striking the balance between a close-to-market solution and a future-proof, more versatile and complex solution.
- Should the evolution of watermarking be considered?
- The latest technological developments were considered to put current watermarking solutions to the test. These include multicast, object-based media, and targeted ads . Some potential evolutions may be necessary but it is yet to be assessed whether this fits into the DVB scope.
- What are the benefits of film grain synthesis?
- Demonstrations showed the difference between video containing the original grain, film grain synthesis, and no grain. Several questions were raised on the deployment conditions. It is likely that DVB will address film grain synthesis in the future.
The main objective of all the sessions was to gather feedback to influence the work in progress, and to initiate new work.
How It’s Going and What’s Next for DVB AVC?
After a relatively calm period, we began working with a next-generation codec survey to gauge the appetite for new codecs. We then began planning the workshop.
For the first time in DVB’s history, there was a plethora of credible candidates for the workshop. However, the direction we would take regarding DVB’s AVC (more pixels, or higher resolutions) wasn’t clear. There was also the open question concerning which applications (VR, XR, “classic” TV, “classic” mobile) to use. In the end, thanks to stakeholder dedication, the workshop was extremely informative and offered detailed insight into the codecs.
We then developed commercial requirements, which is how DVB members define commercially what they expect from DVB. The discussions were quite intensive given that DVB serves hundreds of millions of households. Plus, almost every country uses DVB technology. Finally, we covered specification development and codec evaluation on the technical module side.
DVB recently accomplished the work for phase one of its next-generation video mission. Our next goal is to complete the internet-focused AV1 codec, currently in progress, as well as phase two of the next-generation video codec. The latter centers around a backward-compatible solution for AVC and HEVC deployments. In principle, a group member can initiate a work item with sufficient commercial backing at any time within DVB. This is of course following approval of the steering board. It’s very likely there will be some follow-up work of the study mission for object-based media and volumetric video, as well as film grain synthesis. These are definitely exciting times.
A member of DVB CM AVC since 2012, I have held the role of co-chair since 2017. I’ve learned a great deal from my time at DVB and from the Chair, Jason Power, who I very much enjoy working with. I also sincerely appreciate being a part of the CM-AVC team. I value their spirit and dedication, even during stressful situations, which can sometimes require a reasonable amount of compromise. Rumor has it that DVB has a big upcoming announcement. So be sure to stay tuned for the latest!
Together, with Ateme’s positioning at the height of innovation, we can continue to build on a mutual mission. Now, it’s all about boosting the ecosystem of the media and entertainment industry and encouraging the evolution of video codecs, DVB, and sustainability.
Want to find out more? Get in touch.