Navigating the Codec Landscape: H.264, H.265, and AV1

September 27, 2023

11minutes de lecture

H.264, H.265, AV1 в IPTV/OTT

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, video has transformed from a mere media product into the culmination of numerous services and cutting-edge technologies. The seamless transmission of video content across various channels and platforms has become the norm. However, ensuring that it reaches the widest audience in the highest quality demands robust platforms that support an array of video capture, processing, and transmission technologies.

Central to this transformation are codecs, which are essentially tools for compressing digital videos. These codecs have been carefully designed to make full-length movies compact enough to fit on a DVD or Blu-ray disc without taxing your device when it plays them frame by frame. Even though the internet doesn’t have strict size limits, it still faces challenges related to network traffic and bandwidth. Consequently, the need to compress videos efficiently for smooth streaming on your devices is just as relevant today, prompting the development of new codecs customized for this purpose.

Leading the way in this dynamic field are the modern and widely used video compression codecs: H.264, H.265, and AV1. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how IPTV/OTT providers, UGC streaming platforms, and online event organizers make the most of these codecs. We’ll investigate the tools provided by Flussonic Media Server that empower successful implementation of these essential tasks.

An Exploration of Video Codecs

Let’s take a closer look at how video coding operates. Picture a sequence of four frames. The first one is what we call a key frame or I-Frame, where all the details are fully captured. After that, we have B-Frames, which only represent the changes from the previous frame. So, if you have a “talking head” in the scene, the B-Frames will only focus on altering the relevant points while keeping the background intact.

But there’s more to it: we also have P-frames (P-Frame stands for predictive frame). In video coding, P-frames can refer to both I-frames and B-frames. This is particularly crucial for live broadcasts where bandwidth is limited. P-frames are smart in that they convey changes between frames, thus conserving bandwidth. Not only does this save bandwidth, but it also reduces latency (lag) in the video stream. Instead of recalculating the entire image, the codec swiftly transmits only the changes, vastly enhancing the user experience in live broadcasts. P-frames mitigate the load on hardware when encoding and decoding live video.

Then, this sequence of B- and P-frames is followed by a closing I-frame. The gap between these frame types is known as a “group of pictures” (GOP). The decoder stores this group in memory in its raw form. For instance, if a GOP spans 4 to 5 seconds at 30-25 frames per second, it encompasses a considerable number of frames. As a result, the output of these frames is delayed by 4 to 5 seconds while the transcoding process occurs.

GOP

How Much Do Codecs Cost?

Codecs like H.264, H.265 (or HEVC), and AV1 play a pivotal role in optimizing video compression. They achieve this by combining prediction, known as predicate frames, and data reduction techniques. H.264, also called AVC, relies on block-based motion prediction and quantization, while H.265 enhances compression through more efficient algorithms. On the other hand, AV1 employs intricate prediction and encoding methods, making it one of the most advanced codecs when it comes to image quality. However, it does demand more computing resources for both encoding and decoding, in comparison to H.264 and H.265.

It’s important to note that AV1 is a free codec, whereas H.264 and H.265 require licensing fees. Nevertheless, debating which codec is superior becomes somewhat moot if there aren’t services capable of transmitting them and devices capable of playing them. When video content can’t be played on all viewers’ devices, you need a solution to convert or capture video into the right format. Flussonic Media Server is a solution that offers multi-device compatibility and ensures quality playback for companies engaged in providing IPTV/OTT, UGC streaming, online events, and video surveillance services. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into how Flussonic Media Server addresses these challenges within each business model.

H.264 and H.265 Codecs in the World of IPTV/OTT

Most IPTV/OTT providers face a common challenge: delivering high-quality video content to viewers with minimal hassle. The standard MPEG-2 codec, originally designed for capturing video signals through cable, satellite, and antenna, is now showing its limitations. It’s compatible only with traditional DVB-supported TVs, leaving smart TVs, browsers, mobile devices, and IPTV/OTT set-top boxes out of the game. Trying to watch on these modern devices results in a less-than-ideal viewing experience. Consequently, IPTV/OTT providers are challenged by the task of transitioning to codecs that can offer compatibility across a broader range of devices. More often than not, H.264 emerges as the go-to choice for transcoding video into a more universal format. This is a significant undertaking, especially when you have thousands of channels still reliant on MPEG-2, and they need to be accessible on various devices worldwide.

The dilemma then emerges: which codec should you opt for, and what bitrates and resolutions should you prepare for in the context of IPTV/OTT? The two main contenders are H.264 and H.265. Here’s the catch – H.264 is widely favored for live broadcasts due to its cost-effective encoding. On the other hand, H.265 (HEVC) offers superior quality and data efficiency, but it comes with a higher implementation cost.

Deinterlacing

Deinterlacing

Back in the day, when technology and bandwidth were limited, video transmission used a method called interlacing (I). This technique splits frames into even and odd lines to make the most of the available resources. However, in the modern age of high-definition screens and advanced devices, interlacing can create unwanted artifacts and diminish the overall video quality. This is where progressive (P) transmission has stepped in as the preferred method.

In today’s digital landscape, especially for platforms like IPTV/OTT, deinterlacing plays a crucial role in ensuring clear and smooth playback. Its primary job is to transform the interlaced format (I) into the progressive format (P), enhancing visual clarity. The truth is that deinterlacing is a mandatory step before encoding video in H.264 and H.265 formats. Viewer devices simply can’t handle interlaced content, making this conversion essential for a seamless viewing experience.

Flussonic Media Server is a pivotal asset in the world of IPTV/OTT. It captures signals via IP protocols from various devices, including DVB-S platforms, making it an incredibly versatile solution. This tool goes beyond signal capture; it decodes video from diverse sources and encodes it into various qualities and sizes, ensuring seamless playback on different devices.

With Flussonic, you can handle MPEG-2 video effortlessly, determine the appropriate format (interlaced or progressive), conduct deinterlacing when necessary, and transcode it into formats like H.264 or H.265. Additionally, it prepares tracks in different bitrates and resolutions, guaranteeing playback across a wide array of devices with varying internet speeds. This broadens the audience reach of your content, thanks to its support for H.264, H.265, deinterlacing, and multi-bitrate capabilities, making it accessible via the internet for different devices and bandwidth capacities.

H.264, H.265, and AV1: Optimal Codecs for Online Event-Broadcasting and UGC Content

When it comes to choosing the right codecs for online-events and user-generated content (UGC), it’s essential to understand that the encoding process typically occurs on playout systems like OBS or VMIX. Content creators make the codec selection during this phase, and the video is then encoded in formats such as H.264, H.265, or AV1.

For platforms supporting UGC providers and event broadcasters, the challenge lies in capturing video in the appropriate format and codec, as well as selecting protocols that can efficiently deliver content to viewers with varying internet speeds worldwide. And there’s a need to archive and store videos in cost-effective formats while ensuring compatibility for transmission across different channels and devices.

Switching from one codec to another can be a resource-intensive task, which is why many UGC providers often opt to stick with their current codecs to conserve resources. NVIDIA offers a solution that enables simultaneous encoding of up to three streams and allows content creators and event organizers to choose both the codec and hardware for transcoding based on their specific requirements. NVIDIA graphics cards now support the AV1 codec, which enhances the quality of the video stream.

To effectively deliver video user-generated content to viewers, or at online-events, it’s essential to ensure compatibility between the viewer’s device and the video’s codec and bitrate settings. Adaptive streaming, which adjusts video quality based on internet connection conditions, further broadens your audience reach.

Flussonic Media Server offers a comprehensive solution to tackle these challenges. It equips event broadcasters and UGC platforms with the capabilities to capture video using codecs like H.264, H.265, and AV1. It supports multi-bitrate and adaptive bitrate (ABR) streaming, catering to a diverse range of viewers. Flussonic seamlessly integrates with various delivery protocols such as WebRTC, HLS, and DASH, and provides convenient video archiving and storage options in the required formats.

Another notable advantage of Flussonic Media Server is its ability to transcode video from AV1, a favored codec among game streamers, into H.264. This feature proves especially valuable for devices that lack AV1 support. Furthermore, it resolves bandwidth limitations when transmitting AV1 content over DVB channels, making it an ideal choice for rebroadcasting UGC content or online-events to television. Converting to a more suitable format becomes essential to ensure high-quality transmission.

Codecs in Video Surveillance

Modern surveillance cameras have evolved to support a range of codecs, including H.265 and AV1, and offer multiple bitrates (MBRs). For instance, a single camera can provide a high-resolution stream (e.g., 4K) and a lower-resolution preview stream (e.g., 320p). Once an event is detected, the camera seamlessly switches to the high-quality stream for detailed analysis. On the server side of a video surveillance system, there’s a need to efficiently manage tasks like receiving, capturing, transmitting over the network, and storing video in various resolutions and bitrates.

This is where Flussonic steps in to provide a comprehensive solution for the server side of video surveillance systems. It offers video capture capabilities, distributed storage solutions, and video analytics for event detection. Flussonic offers a range of surveillance cameras and a user-friendly application for viewing both live streams and archives in the desired codecs.

In mobile scenarios where 4G connectivity constraints impact mobile cameras, our approach stands out by enabling video processing directly on smart cameras. This means that only compressed information is transmitted to the server, significantly optimizing bandwidth usage. As a result, Flussonic plays a pivotal role in establishing an efficient and adaptable infrastructure for video surveillance systems.

Codec Application Advantages
H.264 IPTV/OTT Widely used, supported by many devices. Efficient compression with good quality.
H.265 IPTV/OTT, Video Surveillance, UGC Streaming More efficient compression compared to H.264. Reduced bitrate while maintaining quality.
AV1 UGC Streaming, Events, Video Surveillance Modern and efficient codec. High quality at low bitrates. High computational power required for transcoding.

Conclusion

Codec selection and transcoding play a pivotal role in IPTV/OTT, UGC, event streaming, and video surveillance. The quality of video, cost savings, and user experience are all influenced by these factors. How transcoding is handled depends on the specific business model.

For IPTV/OTT providers, the decision on transcoding methods is influenced by economic factors and channel requirements. In UGC-streaming services, transcoding usually occurs on the author’s side, with the platform responsible for content delivery. In video surveillance, it’s essential to choose cameras that support the appropriate codecs, along with a server-side solution capable of processing them effectively.

Flussonic Media Server emerges as a powerful tool that not only provides codec support and transcoding capabilities but also offers the flexibility to experiment with settings to strike the right balance between quality and cost-effectiveness. It offers convenience and adaptability by supporting a variety of codecs.

The world of codecs is ever-evolving, but Flussonic ensures compatibility, alleviating concerns about licensing for end devices. While H.264, H.265, and AV1 may not be the latest codecs supported by Flussonic products, they remain among the most popular and widely discussed.

Selecting a platform that effectively supports codecs and transcoding is a crucial decision. Flussonic Media Server stands as a robust solution, offering the flexibility and adaptability needed for various scenarios. It plays a vital role in ensuring optimal video delivery and user experiences across diverse content delivery models.

Selecting the right platform to support codecs and transcoding is a critical decision. Flussonic Media Server stands out as a dependable solution, offering both robustness and the versatility to meet the demands of various scenarios.

To explore the capabilities of Flussonic Media Server firsthand, including transcoding, video capture, and transmission in the codecs and formats necessary for your online broadcasting, IPTV/OTT, or video surveillance business, we invite you to request a free trial of Flussonic Media Server. Experience the power and flexibility it brings to your content delivery needs.

Mots clés:
Codecs H.264 H.265 AV1

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