Video: VVC – The new Versatile Video Coding standard

The Codec landscape is a more nuanced place than 5 years ago, but there will always be a place for a traditional Codec that cuts file sizes in half while harnessing recent increases in computation. Enter VVC (Versatile Video Codec) the successor to HEVC, created by MPEG and the ITU by JVET (Joint Video Experts Team), which delivers up to 50% compression improvement by evolving the HEVC toolset and adding new features.

In this video Virginie Drugeon from Panasonic takes us through VVC’s advances, its applications and performance in this IEEE BTS webinar. VVC aims not only to deliver better compression but has an emphasis on delivering at higher resolutions with HDR and as 10-bit video. It also acknowledges that natural video isn’t the only video used nowadays with much more content now including computer games and other computer-generated imagery. To achieve this, VVC has had to up its toolset.



Any codec is comprised of a whole set of tools that carry out different tasks. The amount that each of these tools is used to encode the video is controllable, to some extent, and is what gives rise to the different ‘profiles’, ‘levels’ and ‘tiers’ that are mentioned when dealing with MPEG codecs. These are necessary to allow for lower-powered decoding to be possible. Artificially constraining the capabilities of the encoder gives maximum performance guarantees for both the encoder and decoder which gives manufacturers control over the cost of their software and hardware products. Virginie walks us through many of these tools explaining what’s been improved.

Most codecs split the image up into blocks, not only MPEG codecs but the Chinese AVS codecs and AV1 also do. The more ways you have to do this, the better compression you can achieve but this adds more complexity to the encoding so each generation adds more options to balance compression against the extra computing power now available since the last codec. VVC allows rectangles rather than just squares to be used and the size of sections can now be 128×128 pixels, also covered in this Bitmovin video. This can be done separately for the chroma and luma channels.

Virginie explains that the encoding is done through predicting the next frame and sending the corrections on top of that. This means that the encoder needs to have a decoder within it so it can see what is decoded and understand the differences. Virginie explains there are three types of prediction. Intra prediction uses the current frame to predict the content of a block, inter prediction which uses other frames to predict video data and also a hybrid mode which uses both, new to VVC. There are now 93 directional intra prediction angles and the introduction of matrix-based intra prediction. This is an example of the beginning of the move to AI for codecs, a move which is seen as inevitable by The Broadcast Knowledge as we see more examples of how traditional mathematical algorithms are improved upon by AI, Machine Learning and/or Deep Learning. A good example of this is super-resolution. In this case, Virginie says that they used machine learning to generate some matrices which are used for the transform meaning that there’s no neural network within the codec, but that the matrices were created based on real-world data. It seems clear that as processing power increases, a neural network will be implemented in future codecs (whether MPEG or otherwise).

For screen encoding, we see that intra block copying (IBC) is still present from HEVC, explained here from 17:30 IBC allows part of a frame to be copied to another which is a great technique for computer-generated content. Whilst this was in HEVC it was not in the basic package of tools in HEVC meaning it was much less accessible as support in the decoders was often lacking. Two new tools are block differential pulse code modulation & transform skip with adapted residual coding each discussed, along with IBC in this free paper.

Virginie moves on to Coding performance explaining that the JVET reference software called VTM has been used to compare against HEVC’s HM reference and has shown, using PSNR, an average 41% improvement on luminance with screen content at 48%. Fraunhofer HHI’s VVenc software has been shown to be 49%.

Along with the ability to be applied to screen content and 360-degree video, the versatility in the title of the codec also refers to the different layers and tiers it has which stretch from 4:2:0 10 bit video all the way up to 4:4:4 video including spatial scalability. The main tier is intended for delivery applications and the high for contribution applications with framerates up to 960 fps, up from 300 in HEVC. There are levels defined all the way up to 8K. Virginie spends some time explaining NAL units which are in common with HEVC and AVC, explained here from slide 22 along with the VCL (Video Coding Layer) which Virginie also covers.

Random access has long been essential for linear broadcast video but now also streaming video. This is done with IDR (Instantaneous Decoding Refresh), CRA (Clean Random Access) and GDR (Gradual Decoding Refresh). IDR is well known already, but GDR is a new addition which seeks to smooth out the bitrate. With a traditional IBBPBBPBBI GOP structure, there will be a periodic peak in bitrate because the I frames are much larger than the B and, indeed, P frames. The idea with GDR is to have the I frame gradually transmitted over a number of frames spreading out the peak. This disadvantage is you need to wait longer until you have your full I frame available.

Virginie introduces subpictures which are a major development in VVC allowing separately encoded pictures within the same stream. Effectively creating a multiplexed stream, sections of the picture can be swapped out for other videos. For instance, if you wanted a picture in picture, you could swap the thumbnail video stream before the decoder meaning you only need one decoder for the whole picture. To do the same without VVC, you would need two decoders. Subpictures have found use in 360 video allowing reduced bitrate where only the part which is being watched is shown in high quality. By manipulating the bitstream at the sender end.

Before finishing by explaining that VVC can be carried by both MPEG’s ISO BMFF and MPEG2 Transport Streams, Virginie covers Reference Picture Resampling, also covered in this video from Seattle Video Tech allows reference frames of one resolution to be an I frame for another resolution stream. This has applications in adaptive streaming and spatial scalability. Virginie also covers the enhanced timing available with HRD

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Video is free to watch

Virginie Drugeon Virginie Drugeon
Senior Engineer Digital TV Standardisation,

Video: UHD – commercial success or work in progress?

Where is UHD? Whilst the move to HD for US primetime slots happened very quickly, HD had actually taken many years to gain a hold on the market. Now, though SD services are still numerous, top tier channels all target HD and in terms of production, SD doesn’t really exist. Is UHD successfully building the momentum needed to dominate the market in the way that HD does or are there blockers? Is there the will but not the bandwidth? Can we show that UHD makes financial sense for a business? This video from the DVB Project and UltraHD Forum answers these questions.

Ian Nock takes the mic first and explains the UltraHD Forum’s role in the industry ahead of introducing Dolby’s Jason Power. Ian explains that the UltraHD Forum isn open organisation focused on all aspects of Ultra High Definition including HDR, Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), Next Generation Audio (NGA) and High Frame Rate (HFR). Jason Power is the chair of the DVB Commercial Module AVC. See starts by underlining the UHD-1 Phase 1 and Phase 2 specifications. Phase 1 defines the higher resolution and colour gamut, but phase 2 delivers higher frame rate, better audio and HDR. DVB works to produce standards that define how these can be used and the majority of UHD services available are DVB compliant.

On the topic of available services, Ben Schwarz takes the stand next to introduce the UltraHD Forum’s ‘Service Tracker‘ which tracks the UHD services available to the public around the world. Ben underlines there’s been a tripling of services available between 2018 to 2020. It allows you to order by country, look at resolution (from 2K to 8L) and more. Ben gives a demo and explains the future plans.

Paul Bray focusses on the global television set business. He starts looking at how the US and Europe have caught up with China in terms of shipments but the trend of buying a TV set – on average – an inch larger than the year before, shows little sign of abating. A positive for the industry, in light of Covid-19, is that the market is not predicted to shrink. Rather, the growth that was expected will be stunted. The US replaces TVs more often than other countries, so the share of TVs there which are UHD is higher than anywhere else. Europe still has a large proportion of people who are happy with 32″ TVs due to the size and HD is perfectly ok for them. Paul shows a great graph which shows the UHD Penetration of each market against the number of UHD services available. We see that Europe is notably in the lead and that China barely has any UHD services at all. Though it should be noted that Omdia are counting linear services only.

Graph showing UHD Penetration per geographical market Vs. Number of Linear UHD services in that Market

Graph showing UHD Penetration per geographical market Vs. Number of Linear UHD services.
Graph and Information ©Omdia

The next part of the video is a 40-minute Q&A which includes Virginie Drugeon who explains her work in defining the dynamic metadata that is sent to the receiver so that it can correctly adapt the picture, particularly for HDR, to the display itself. The Q&A covers the impacts of Covid-19, recording formats for delivery to broadcasters, bitrates on satellite, the UltraHD Forum’s foundational guidelines, new codecs within DVB, high frame rate content and many other topics.

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Download the presentations

Jason Power Jason Power
Chair of the DVB Commercial Module AVC Working Group
Commercial Partnerships and Standards, Dolby Laboratories
Ben Schwarz Ben Schwarz
Chair of Ultra HD Forum Communication Working Group
Paul Gray Paul Gray
Research Director,
Virginie Drugeon Virginie Drugeon
Senior Engineer, Digital Standardisation,
Ian Nock Moderator:Ian Nock
Chair of the Interoperability Working Group of the Ultra HD Forum
Principal Consultant & Founder, Fairmile West

Webinar: HDR Dynamic Mapping

HDR broadcast is on the rise, as we saw from the increased number of ways to watch this week’s Super Bowl in HDR, but SDR will be with us for a long time. Not only will services have to move seamlessly between SDR and HDR services, but there is a technique that allows HDR itself to be dynamically adjusted to better match the display its on.

Introduced in July 2019, content can now be more accurately represented on any specific display, particularly lower end TVs. Dynamic Mapping (DM), is applies to PQ-10 which is the 10-bit version of Dolby’s Perceptual Quantizer HDR format standardised under SMPTE ST-2084. Because HLG (ARIB STV-B67) works differently, it doesn’t need dynamic mapping. Dynamic Metadata to support this function is defined as SMPTE ST 2094-10, -40 and also as part of ETSI TS 103 433-2.

Stitching all of this together and helping us navigate delivering the best HDR is Dolby’s Jason Power and Virginie Drugeon from Panasonic in this webinar organised by DVB.

Register now!

Virginie Drugeon Virginie Drugeon
Senior Engineer for Digital TV Standardisation, Panasonic
Chair, DVB TM-AVC Group
Jason Power Jason Power
Senior Director, Commercial Partnerships and Standards, Dolby Laboratories
Chair, DVB CM-AVC Group

Webinar: UHD & HDR

Today at 14:00 GMT! 8th March
This Webinar covers Ultra-High Definition (UHD) Television and related technologies such as Higher Dynamic Range (HDR), Higher Frame Rates (HFR) and Next Generation Audio (NGA) in distribution.

What is the impact of Higher Frame Rates? What about Higher Dynamic Range? The German Institut für Rundfunktechnik (IRT) was involved in various subjective tests for HDR and HFR, and the IRT’s Dagmar Driesnack will cover those findings in her presentation.

Both features are also included in the latest DVB (Digital Video Broadcasting) receiver specification. Virginie Drugeon will present on DVB’s updated audio-visual coding specification, TS 101 154, which adds support for HDR, HFR and Next-Gen Audio.

Webinar Agenda

  1. Introduction
  2. UHD Features and Tests – Dagmar Driesnack
  3. Q&A
  4. UHD in DVB Distribution Standards – Virginie Drugeon
  5. Q&A
  6. What is next? – Interactive session with Dagmar Driesnack and Virginie Drugeon


Dagmar_Driesnack_100x100.jpgDagmar Driesnack, IRT, EBU Strategic Programme for Video Systems Co-Chair


Virginie_Drugeon_100x100.jpgVirginie Drugeon, Panasonic, DVB TM-AVC Working Group Chair