Video: AV1 – A Reality Check

Released in 2018, AV1 had been a little over two years in the making at the Alliance of Open Media founded by industry giants including Google, Amazon, Mozilla, Netflix. Since then work has continued to optimise the toolset to bring both encoding and decoding down to real-world levels.

This talk brings together AOM members Mozilla, Netflix, Vimeo and Bitmovin to discus where AV1’s up to and to answer questions from the audience. After some introductions, the conversation turns to 8K. The Olympics are the broadcast industry’s main driver for 8K at the moment, though it’s clear that Japan and other territories aim to follow through with further deployments and uses.

“AV1 is the 8K codec of choice” 

Paul MacDougall, Bitmovin
 CES 2020 saw a number of announcements like this from Samsung regarding AV1-enabled 8K TVs. In this talk from Google, Matt Frost from Google Chrome Media explains how YouTube has found that viewer retention is higher with VP9-delivered videos which he attributes to VP9’s improved compression over AVC which leads to quicker start times, less buffering and, often, a higher resolution being delivered to the user. AV1 is seen as providing these same benefits over AVC without the patent problems that come with HEVC.

It’s not all about resolution, however, points out Paul MacDougall from BitMovin. Resolution can be useful, for instance in animations. For animated content, resolution is worth having because it accentuates the lines which add intelligibility to the picture. For some content, with many similar textures, grass, for instance, then quality through bitrate may be more useful than adding resolution. Vittorio Giovara from Vimeo agrees, pointing out that viewer experience is a combination of many factors. Though it’s trivial to say that a high-resolution screen of unintended black makes for a bad experience, it is a great reminder of things that matter. Less obviously, Vittorio highlights the three pillars of spatial, temporal and spectral quality. Temporal refers to upping the bitrate, spatial is, indeed, the resolution and spectral refers to bit-depth and colour-depth know as HDR and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG).

Nathan Egge from Mozilla acknowledges that in their 2018 code release at NAB, the unoptimized encoder which was claimed by some to be 3000 times slower than HEVC, was ’embarrassing’, but this is the price of developing in the open. The panel discusses the fact that the idea of developing compression is to try out approaches until you find a combination that work well. While you are doing that, it would be a false economy to be constantly optimising. Moreover, Netflix’s Anush Moorthy points out, it’s a different set of skills and, therefore, a different set of people who optimise the algorithms.

Questions fielded by the panel cover whether there are any attempts to put AV1 encoding or decoding into GPU. Power consumption and whether TVs will have hardware or software AV1 decoding. Current in-production AV1 uses and AVC vs VVC (compression benefit Vs. royalty payments).

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Vittorio Giovara Vittorio Giovara
Manager, Engineering – Video Technology
Nathan Egge Nathan Egge
Video Codec Engineer,
Paul MacDougall Paul MacDougall
Principal Sales Engineer,
Anush Moorthy Anush Moorthy
Manager, Video and Image Encoding
Tim Siglin Tim Siglin
Founding Executive Director
Help Me Stream, USA

Video: Towards a healthy AV1 ecosystem for UGC platforms

Twitch is an ambassador for new codecs and puts its money where its mouth is; it is one of the few live streaming platforms which streams with VP9 – and not only at, with cloud FPGA acceleration thanks to Xylinx’s acquisition of NGCODEC.

As such, they have a strong position on AV1. With such a tech savvy crowd, they stream most of their videos at the highest bitrate (circa 6mbps). With millions of concurrent videos, they are highly motivated to reduce bandwidth where they can and finding new codecs is one way to do that.

Principal Research Engineer, Yueshi discusses Twitch’s stance on AV1 and the work they are doing to contribute in order to get the best product at the end of the process which will not only help them, but the worldwide community. He starts by giving an overview of Twitch which, while many of us are familiar with the site, the scale and needs of the site may be new information and drive the understanding of the rest of the talk.

Reduction in bitrate is a strong motivator, but also the fact that supporting many codecs is a burden. AV1 promises a possibility of reducing the number of supported codecs/formats. Their active contribution in AV1 is also determined by the ‘hand wave’ latency; a simple method of determining the approximate latency of a link which is naturally very important to a live streaming platform. This led to Twitch submitting a proposal for SWITCH_FRAME which is a technique, accepted in AV1, which allows more frequent changes by the player between the different quality/bitrate streams available. This results in a better experience for the user and also reduced bitrate/buffers.

YueShi then looks at the projected AV1 deployment roadmap and discusses when GPU/hardware support will be available. The legal aspect of AV1 – which promises to be a free-to-use codec is also discussed with the news that a patent pool has formed around AV1.

The talk finishes with a Q&A.

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Yueshi Shen Yueshi Shen
Principal (Level 7) Research Engineer & Engineering Manager,

Video: Into the Depths: The Technical Details behind AV1

As we wait for the dust to settle on this NAB’s AV1 announcements hearing who’s added support for AV1 and what innovations have come because of it, we know that the feature set is frozen and that some companies will be using it. So here’s a chance to go in to some of the detail.

AV1 is being created by the AOM, the Alliance for Open Media, of which Mozilla is a founding member. The IETF is considering it for standardisation under their NetVC working group and implementations have started. On The Broadcast Knowledge, we have seen explanations from, one of the original contributors to AV1. We’ve seen how it fares against HEVC with Ian Trow and how HDR can be incorporated in it from Google and Warwick University. For a complete list of all AV1 content, have a look here.

Now, we join Nathan Egge who talks us through many of the different tools within AV1 including one which often captures the imagination of people; AV1’s ability to remove film grain ahead of encoding and then add back in synthesised grain on playback. Nathan also looks ahead in the Q&A talking about integration into RTP, WebRTC and why Broadcasters would want to use AV1.

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Nathan Egge Nathan Egge
Video Codec Engineer,

Video: Mozilla TechSpeakers – AV1 Video Codec

AV1 is much talked about. We know what it promises, but how many of us remember what it does and why it is so promising?

Here, Mozilla – a member of the Alliance for Open Media – takes us through what AV1 is, how it works, why it promises to fare better than HEVC.

• Brief history of video viewering royalty codecs
• What makes AV1 different
• The tools AV1 uses
• Quality Benchmarks
• HEVC Licensing
And much more

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