One year after being passed, the new HEVC video coding standard (H.265) keeps attracting the greatest interest within the audiovisual industry, as could be verified in the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held from 21 to 24 October in Hollywood, California (USA).
For the second year in a row, SAPEC, leader in the audio and video professional sector, in collaboration with the Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (iTEAM-UPV by its Spanish acronym) participated as the greatest exponents of the Spanish audiovisual technology, presenting a technological solution for the efficient use of the HEVC standard in content contribution and sharing services between producers, broadcasters and operators.
Before a large group of experts in the field, SAPEC and the iTEAM-UPV showed the benefits that HEVC can provide to the coding of interlaced formats, particularly for the 1080i high-definition format. Its relevance lies in the fact that nowadays, this interlaced format still has a strong presence both in the TV production area, where more than 80% of the contents are still being produced in 1080i, and in the broadcasting sector, where it is clearly the dominant format in all HD platforms, not to mention the vast and valuable existing HD content archive, where said format is likewise the preference over the progressive format (720p or 1080p).
Due to the lack of specific tools for coding in interlaced mode offered by HEVC, there is a great deal of confusion in the industry regarding the capacity of HEVC to encode interlaced contents. As an example of the benefits that HEVC can provide in this field, the DVB has recently approved a new version of its TR 101 154 recommendation with the purpose of supporting the 1080i interlaced formats in their different frame-rates with the HEVC standard.
SAPEC and the iTEAM-UPV presented an innovative architecture that facilitates the implementation of the Sequence-Adaptive Field-Frame’” or SAFF model, which allows for the efficient coding of interlaced formats with low delay.
With the aim of analysing the efficiency of the proposed model in an HEVC encoder, the obtained results were displayed over a wide range of sequences with different time-space complexities, using the new HEVC “Main 422 10b” profile.
These results confirm that HEVC can reduce the bandwidth currently used by H.264 in its “High 422” profile to values over 60%, for high-complexity sequences (such as sport sequences) while for less-demanding sequences, such as animation contents, HEVC still obtains 30% higher efficiency than H.264 for interlaced formats.
Sapec, one of the first worldwide companies to implement HEVC technology
As a final conclusion, SAPEC and the iTEAM-UPV pointed out that the new HEVC “Main 422 10 bits” profile for professional applications can offer significant bandwidth reductions that can be used by TV broadcasters and operators, both for TV broadcasting and contribution services with the current high-definition interlaced format.
Nowadays, Sapec is one the first worldwide companies to have real-time professional HEVC encoders, in which it integrates this technology to support interlaced formats.