Monday, 28 January 2013

Another new video format - H.265

For stock footage and stills of London go to London Photography and Video. 

There are nearly as many video formats in existence as there are spoofs of the Gangham Style video and they make a video editor's life hell. The producer's simple question of "could you just export a file for me to send to the client" is the start of a round of "fifty questions", forty-nine of which the producer doesn't know the answer to and the one he guesses is usually wrong.

There is no point or indeed desire to explain things like codecs, wrappers, bit-rate and dimensions to a producer who wants a 23 minute long video in HD quality but small enough to e-mail. Unless you want them to go and make a cup of tea. So the editor (me) takes an educated guess and produces something that will play on the client's Blackberry.

So when a new format emerges from the ITU that will "ease the pressure on global networks" I am likely to crawl into a dark corner and order more tea. But this one could be a goer since it is the successor to H.264 the (not very snappily named) codec that is now the lifeblood of the internet video world (80% of all video streamed on web is in H.264) and is liked by Apple and Microsoft OS's alike. 

The recently announced, excitingly named Recommendation ITU-T H.265 or ISO/IEC 23008-2 or High Efficiency Video Coding [I think I'll stick to H.265] is twice as efficient as its numerically challenged cousin at crunching numbers which means similar quality files will be half the size. At the moment a 23 minute programme (which is all you get in a 30 minute slot on a commercial station) in H.264 at full HD resolution creates a file that's about 1.4 Gb in size. Download four of those and your 5Gb 4G limit is exceeded and that is going to cost you, but with H.265 you get twice as much for your money.

Now I am very interested in how 4K television develops (don't get me started at dinner parties) and this new codec is designed with 4K and even 8K in mind and will start to make it possible to watch online over a fibre connection. It will take a while to phase the new format in but once it is on my desktop and my client's tablet, it is one less question to ask when exporting a video.

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