Essential Video Coding

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Essential Video Coding (EVC), or MPEG-5, is a patent-riddled royalty-free subset of Versatile Video Coding (VVC) format meant to be the successor to HEVC.

The EVC standard is based on a joint proposal from Samsung, Huawei and Qualcomm. It is backed by the The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG).

A Two-Tiered Format

EVC appears to be a response to the free VP9 and AV1 video codecs. MPEG-LA wanted HEVC to be the successor to H264/MPEG-AVC. The succeeded in making HEVC the standard for dying media like BlueRay discs but they failed miserably in making HEVC popular on the Internet. VP9 has become the de-facto standard for 1440p and 4K on the Internet, mostly thanks to Google using VP9 for higher resolutions on YouTube. EVC appears to be a response to how VP9 and AV1, not HEVC, became the highly compressed video standards on the Internet because they are free and open formats.

Essential Video Coding will in theory be a royalty-free format. The supposedly royalty-free status is accomplished by making EVC a two-tiered format:

  • There will be a "basic" set of tools and code that can can be used royalty-free. EVC will have a "baseline" everyone should be able to implement "royalty-free".
  • There will also be a "enhanced" set of non-free EVC tools and features. The non-free EVC bitstream will be the "main" profile. The standard says that is has to be possible to disable these "enhanced" features and use EVC with the "baseline" profile and the "basic" feature-set.

What this means is that free software tools and libraries like ffmpeg will, in theory, be able to support encoding EVC video using a very limited feature-set while commercial tools will be able to encode better compressed and higher quality EVC video.

Linux Support

The ffmpeg freeworld edition can neither decode or encode EVC video as of version 4.2.4 according to ffmpeg -codecs.

The way MPEG frames EVC makes it seem like Linux distributions will be unable to include EVC "main" profile support in the ffmpeg versions they ship. It may be possible to include EVC "baseline" support in free software.

See also


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