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H.265 - The Arrival of Video Compression's Future


Video compression technology tends to see leaps and bounds in advancements. MPEG-2 video encoding standard (H.262) carried us through the 1990s, Advanced Video Coding (AVC, H.264) arrived in the mid-2000s, and now we are seeing High Efficiency Video Coding (HVEC), more commonly known as its codec H.265.

Thus far, testing has shown “substantial coding efficiency improvements.” In 92.5% of the test cases, HVEC produced even or superior quality at half the bit rate of AVC/H.264. Testing was done on a subjective and objective level, subjectively using test individuals to watch images and videos, and objectively by measuring things such as PSNR – peak signal-to-noise ratio. For tests on 4K UHD, H.265 showed improvements at up to 64%! This means that if a H.264 1080p video @ 30fps needed 4Mb/s, the H.265 video with the exact same specs would only need 2Mb/s!

Other technological advancements of H.265 are things like CTUs and parallel decoding. CTUs, coding tree units, are essentially much larger ‘macroblocks’ that extend to 64x64 pixels while having the flexibility to go down to 4x4. These are basically encoding blocks necessarily large enough to handle the 4k of today and the, presumably, ubiquitous nature of 8k of tomorrow. Parallel coding simply means that two separate parts of the image can be processed at the same time. Obviously, two is better than one, and finally the encoding process can also take further advantage of multi-core processors.

Where H.264 has been used for Full HD, H.265 is now being used to help compress 4K content. Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and other video services use H.265 for their highest quality videos because most broadband channels are not suited for the newer, high HD forms of video streaming. As more movies and shows pick up using 4K resolutions, the need for better compression is going to be as undeniable as it would be necessarily ubiquitous.

Of course, it’s not just about entertainment. Security solutions have been pressing for higher quality videos as well, slowly pushing their way onto the 4K resolution market. There are many security situations that have always called for higher resolutions. Situations that have always been rather difficult to solve. Parking lots, for example. Old cameras might be able to see a crime take place, but typically the camera would be so high up a light pole or at the edge of a building that intricate details important to ‘solving the crime’ might be missed. As high-definition arrived in the camera market, the next issue was storage space. Constantly recording and storing a scene at high-def requires a great deal of space, even when compressed by the H.264 codec.

H.265, then, is essentially the solution to these problems. You can find our selection of H.265 cameras here.

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