Versatile Video Coding (VVC) or H.266, the next-gen MPEG video standard, has been officially announced by Fraunhofer HHI. The firm, along with industry partners like Apple, Ericsson, Intel, Huawei, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Sony, has been working on the technology for the last three years.
Much like its predecessor High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), or H.265, this new compression standard also promises to reduce the bitrate and sizes of video files by around 50% with no perceptible difference in visual fidelity. Software capable of taking advantage of VVC encoding and decoding is expected to be released by autumn this year.
With global internet video demand on the rise, the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) is pushing H.266/VVC as well as two other standards, namely: MPEG-5 Part 1, or Essential Video Coding (EVC), and MPEG-5 Part 2 or Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC). Part of this push may also have to do with the competition from the open-standard AV1 codec, which is capable of yielding similar results to HEVC while also being royalty-free. Preliminary testing conducted by BBC R&D last year has shown promising results for VVC as the new standard exhibits significant bitrate savings over HEVC as well as AV1, especially in the case of 4K UHD files.
The overall adoption of HEVC has been quite slow, but with the rise in high-resolution displays and content, alongside promising preliminary results, VVC/H.266 could receive a more favorable response from the community.