Engineering Emmy Award for HEVC Standard

Engineering Emmy Award Copyright: © Privat

RWTH Professor Jens-Rainer Ohm (third from left) and Chaesub Lee, ITU-T, Dr. Gary Sullivan, Microsoft, and Karen Higginbottom, ISO (from left) are delighted to accept the Emmy Award on behalf of the JCT-VC team. 



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The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has honored the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding, JCT-VC, for developing the new High Efficiency Video Coding Standard, HEVC. As one of the two chairs of the team, Professor Jens-Rainer Ohm from the RWTH Institute for Communications Engineering has significantly contributed to the development of the new standard.

The award was presented at a ceremony on October 25 in Los Angeles and accepted on behalf of the team by co-chairs Gary J. Sullivan from Microsoft and Jens-Rainer Ohm from RWTH Aachen University, together with Chaesub Lee, ITU-T, and Karen Higginbottom, ISO/IEC.

Improved Picture Quality through HEVC

HEVC is a video compression standard specification that enables efficient delivery in ultra-high-definition content over multiple distribution channels, including TV, the Internet, and mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones.

HEVC has been designed to save space and bandwidth: Compared to prior standards such as Advanced Video Coding (AVC) und MPEG-2|H.262, HEVC has the advantage that images areas can be more flexibly subdivided into larger and smaller block partitions. This makes it possible to use the available bits in regions with a higher degree of movement or detail.

Furthermore, the new standard enables a distinctly more precise description of local movement and a more efficient representation of the required information. The compression rate is remarkable: the quality of AVC can be attained using half the number of bits; compared to MPEG-2|H.262, HEVC requires less than a fourth of the bits to achieve the older standard’s quality.

In Germany, HEVC was adopted by the terrestrial television distribution channels; most larger TV displays available today are equipped with HEVC decoders. Moreover, most smartphones are able to receive HEVC bitstreams and display the video clips accordingly.

International Collaboration in JCT-VC

Since 2010, about 1,000 experts from 200 companies, research institutions and universities have been participating in the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding, JCT-VC for short, to define and develop the HEVC standard.

JCT-VC members meet several times a year to discuss technology-related proposals of the involved companies and organizations and test the performance of promising technologies. The general aim is to describe video signals as accurately as possible, using the lowest possible number of bits. Often, several different methods compete against each other and have to be compared on various dimensions. In this process, the specification of the new standard is being developed, which describes how to generate a video signal from the flow of bits sent over the internet, for example.

With the help of this specification, companies can develop software and devices that are compatible with one another. A video clip that has been recorded using a cell phone, for example, can be played on a PC right away.