What is H.264 High Profile & SVC Video Codec?

What is H.264 High Profile & SVC Video Codec?

H.264 HP (High Profile)High Profile, an extension of H.264 has gained good popularity among the many video conferencing players in the market due to its advanced compression and efficient video coding capabilities. The H.264 standard lists multiple options for the implementation of each block, which allows vendors to develop customized applications and address the requirements in their markets.

With its ability to preserve high video quality at lower bandwidth requirements, it certainly helps in reducing the total cost of ownership and improves the rate of return. High Profile reduces the required network bandwidth for video by up to 50%. High Definition video calls that required over 1 megabit per second using Baseline Profile are now supported at just 512 kilobits per second with High Profile. Standard Definition calls that required a minimum of 256 kilobits per second are now supported at as low as 128 kilobits per second.

(Actual implementation may have different values depending on the various ecosystem components and deployment)

H.264 HiP Advantages

  • 30 – 50% bandwidth savings compared to other compression techniques
  • Better video quality and large cost savings
  • Huge savings on MCU sizing, with High Profile the same MCU can host same HD Video calls on less bandwidth
  • Supported by various key players in the video conferencing market like Polycom, Avaya, Cisco & Huawei.

H.264 SVC(Scalable Video Codec)With fast changing customer applications, varied industry specific solutions and non-guaranteed/reserve or lossy networks bandwidth deployments, there can be scenarios, where the traditional type of video encoding fails or does not perform as per the requirement. This fundamental problem gave rise to the need to have scalable video codec for such lossy environments.

In July 2007, a scalable extension of H.264 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) was jointly published by MPEG and ITU-T, which makes the scalable extension to be the state-of-the-art scalable video codec.    

The H.264 SVC (Scalable Video Coding) is a video compression algorithm that enables effective and efficient transmission of video files over low bandwidth networks. Scalable video coding involves generating a bit-stream that allows decoding of appropriate subsets to reconstruct complete pictures of resolution/quality proportionate with the proportion of the bitstream decoded. The minimum bit-stream subset that can be decoded is called base layer. The remaining bits in the bitstream are called enhancement layer(s) and by decoding the enhancement layer(s) more details are obtained to get the video at higher resolution or quality as compared to the base layer.

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Devices at the low end of this spectrum (for example, smartphones or tablet devices) might only be capable of participating in video conferences at lower video resolutions (for example, standard definition). Therefore, these devices will consume from all the SVC video streams transmitted only the base layer stream that supports this lower resolution. Other devices with a capacity for higher resolution video (for example, 720p/30 fps) will consume from the overall SVC video streams transmitted both the base layer and those enhancement layers required to support compositing a video resolution that satisfies their appetite. Finally, video endpoints on the high end of the spectrum, such as immersive video conferencing room systems, will consume all SVC video streams (base layer and all enhancement layers) to composite the highest possible video resolution supported by the aggregation of all the enhancement layers transmitted in the various SVC streams (for example, 1080p/60 fps).

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H.264 SVC Advantages

  • 264 SVC helps systems to push the same video stream through networks of varying capacities
  • Allows the same video stream (even in MegaPixel/HD encoding quality and high frame rate) to be viewed by different hardware clients (Control Room Video Wall, Handheld PDA etc)
  • Error resilience allows continuous video stream, even in cases of the network with up to 20% drops, with no obvious video loss noticed during the live stream or recording.