Versatile Video Coding

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Versatile Video Coding (VVC)
(H.266 / MPEG-I Part 3)
  • International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T)
Developed by
  • "Joint Video Experts Team"
  • (Video Coding Experts Group, ITU-T)
  • (Moving Picture Experts Group, ISO, IEC)
Initial releaseJuly 2020
Type of formatVideo coding format
Extended fromH.261, H.262, H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG-1

Versatile Video Coding (VVC or H.266) is a video compression standard finalized on July 6th 2020. It is the successor of the HEVC/H.265 standard. VVC was developed by a working group called the "Joint Video Experts Team" (JVET) with members from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).


The "Joint Video Experts Team" set out to make VVC with a few concrete goals in mind:

  • 30-50% better compression rate compared to HEVC at the same perceptual quality.
  • Support for
    • lossless and lossy compression
    • 4K to 16K video
    • 360° videos
    • YCbCr 4:4:4, 4:2:2 and 4:2:0 color spaces in 10 to 16 bits per component
    • BT.2100 wide color gamut and high dynamic range (HDR) with more than 16 stops
    • Variable and fractional frame-rates ranging from 0 to 120 Hz

How many of these goals will be reached in actual implementations is yet to be seen. All of them were part of the initial specification released in July 2020.

Patents & Licensing

Versatile Video Coding is, like the HEVC standard it is largely based on, riddled with patented technology. HEVC failed miserably on the Internet due to the expensive and confusing licensing terms.

The interest behind the VVC standard have formed a patent pool called the Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF, in an effort to make it easy to license VVC-related patents on clear terms. Participation in the pool is voluntary. Paying them for a license is not if you want to use VVC in hardware or software products, even if you distribute software for free.

A tripped-down version of VVC called Essential Video Coding has been developed somewhat in parallel in order to provide a "free" codec for those who do not want to pay for VVC.

The VVC patents and licensing requirements places it in the same out-of-reach boat as HEVC as far as free software users are concerned. GNU/Linux distributions will not be able to include VVC players, tools or libraries. GNU/Linux users will have to use third party "freeworld" repositories to be able to encode and decode VVC video if/when libraries like ffmpeg start supporting it.

Linux Support

There are zero players, libraries or tools with VVC support available for GNU/Linux as of September 2020. VVC is therefore not yet practically usable for anything.

Web Browser Support

There is no support for playing VVC video in any web browser. HEVC failed to become a standard part of any web browser beyond those on Android and those made by Apple. VVC will likely suffer the same faith due to the licensing requirements even though the Media Coding Industry Forum is aiming to make licensing "easy". The competing VP9 and AV1 standards are free and open, VVC is not.

See also

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