If there’s any talk that cuts through the AV1 hype, it must be this one. The talk from the @Scale conference starts by re-introducing AV1 and AoM but then moves quickly on to encoding techniques and the toolsets now available in AV1.
Starting by looking at the evolution from VP9 to AV1, Google engineer Yue Chen looks at:
AV1 has strong backing from tech giants but is still seldom seen in the wild. Find out what the plans are for the future with Google’s Debargha Mukherjee.
Debargha’s intent in this talk is simple: to frame a description of what AV1 can do and is doing today in terms of the history of the codec and looking forward to the future and a potential AV2.
The talk starts by demonstrating the need for better video codecs not least of which is the statistic that by 2021, 81% of the internet’s traffic is expected to be video. But on top of that, there is a frustration with the slow decade-long refresh process which is traditional for video codecs. In order to match the new internet landscape with fast-evolving services, it seemed appropriate to have a codec which not only delivered better encoding but also saw a quicker five-year refresh cycle.
As a comparison to the royalty-free AV1, Debargha then looks at VP9 it is deployed. Further more, VP10 who’s development was stopped and diverted into the AV1 effort which is then the topic for the next part of the talk; the Alliance for Open Media, the standardisation process and then a look at some of the encoding tools available to archive the stated aims.
To round off the description of what’s presently happening with AV1 trials of VP9, HEVC and AV1 are shown demonstrating AV1s ability to improve compression for a certain quality. Bitmovin and Facebook’s tests are also highlighted along with speed tests.
Looking, now, to the future, the talk finishes by explaining the future roadmap for hardware decoding and other expected milestones in the coming years plus the software work such as SVT-AV1 and DAV1D for optimised encoding and decoding. With the promised five-year cycle, we need to look forward now to AV2 and Debargha discusses what it might be and what it would need to achieve.
Netflix’s Anne Aaron explains how VMAF came about and how AV1 is going to benefit both the business and the viewers.
VMAF is a method for computers to calculate the quality of a video in a way which would match a human’s opinion. Standing for Video Multi-Method Assessment Fusion, Anne explains that it’s a combination (fusion) of more than one metric each harnessing different aspects. She presents data showing the increased correlation between VMAF and real-life tests.
Anne’s job is to maximise enjoyment of content through efficient use of bandwidth. She explains there are many places with wireless data is limited so getting the maximum amount of video through that bandwidth cap is an essential part of Netflix’s business health.
This ties in with why Netflix is part of the Alliance for Open Media who are in the process of specifying AV1, the new video codec which promises bitrate improvements over-and-above HEVC. Anne expands on this and presents the aim to deliver 32 hours of video using AV1 for 4Gb subscribers.
AV1 is famous for its promise to deliver better compression than HEVC but also for it being far from real-time. This talk has a demonstration of the world’s first real-time AV1 video call showing that speed improvement are on the way and, indeed, some have arrived.
Encoding is split into ‘tools’ so where you might hear of ‘h.264’ or ‘MPEG 2’, these are names for a whole set of different ways of looking at – and squeezing down – a picture. They also encompass the rules of how they should act together to form a cohesive encoding mechanism. (To an extent, such codecs tend to define only how the decode should happen, leaving encoding open to innovation.) AV1 contains many tools, many of which are complex and so require a lot of time even from today’s fast computers.
Cisco’s Thomas Davies, who created the BBC’s Dirac codec which is now standardised under SMPTE’s VC-2 standard, points out that whilst these tools are complex, AV1 also has a lot of them and this diversity of choice is actually a benefit for speed and in particular for the speed of software codecs.
After demonstrating the latency and bandwidth benefits of their live, bi-directional, AV1 implementation against AVC, Thomas looks at the deployment possibilities and of AV1. The talk finishes with a summary of what AV1 brings in benefits to sum up why this new effort, with the Alliance of Open Media, is worth it.
Cisco Media Engineering, UK