Primetime Emmy award for IEC, ISO and ITU

US Academy of Television honours 'High Efficiency Video Coding'

By Claire Marchand

Last October, the US Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awarded an Emmy for outstanding achievement in engineering to the expert group responsible for ‘High Efficiency Video Coding’, the video compression standard that has emerged as the primary coding format for Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TV.

Emmy statuette Emmy statuette

A third Emmy for IEC, ISO and ITU

The Emmy recognizes the achievements of the ISO/IEC Moving Pictures Expert Group of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29: Coding of audio, picture, multimedia and hypermedia information – a Subcommittee of the Joint Technical Committee ISO/IEC JTC 1: Information technology – and the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding, a team of experts representing the ITU Video Coding Experts Group of ITU-T Study Group 16. 

In 2009, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29 was awarded an Engineering Emmy for MPEG-4 AVC and in 1996 for MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 compression coding associated with, respectively, still photography, video CD and MP3, and digital TV set top boxes and DVD.

High praise

The three organizations commended the team of experts for their achievement. 

IEC General Secretary & CEO Frans Vreeswijk said: “My sincere congratulations to the team of experts behind this standard and a big thank you to the US Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for recognizing the importance of International Standards which are the result of fruitful collaboration between many countries and organizations.” 

“It is a real pleasure to see the work of our experts recognized in this way”, stated Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of ISO. “This group, which is at the forefront of innovation and technology in video, shows how successful we can be when we work together with a common aim.” 

“ITU, ISO and IEC provide the technical foundations of the extraordinary innovation that we see in video,” added ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “I am pleased to join the US Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in celebrating the experts at the heart of this longstanding collaboration in international standardization.” 

From AVC to HEVC

Video accounts for about 75% of all consumer Internet traffic, a figure expected to rise to over 80% by 2020. The majority of this video is coded using International Standards developed in collaboration by IEC, ISO and ITU. 

‘High Efficiency Video Coding’ (HEVC), published as ISO/IEC 23008-2 | ITU-T H.265, gains the recognition of an Emmy award for forging the path to UHD 4K and 8K TV. 

HEVC is a significant evolution from its predecessor ISO/IEC 23008-2 | ITU-T H.265 Advanced Video Coding (AVC). The arrival of MPEG-4 | H.264 AVC in 2003 is credited with unlocking significant advances in video spanning HDTV to 3G mobile multimedia, a contribution to TV engineering recognized with a Primetime Emmy award in 2008. 

HEVC was released in 2013 to support the next decade of innovation in video. HEVC uses half the bandwidth of MPEG-4 | H.264 AVC, delivering an HD viewing experience while concurrently enabling operators to utilize network capacity more efficiently. The standard has proven especially valuable in accelerating the rollout of UHD. 

HEVC enables high-dynamic-range as well as wide-colour gamut coding and has been selected as the primary format for the delivery of full 10-bit UHD video. The standard’s support for synthetic content, 3D and multiview enables practical applications of virtual and augmented reality. 

HEVC is at play in all UHD distribution channels, from mobile broadband to satellite, cable and fibre-optic communications. The standard is supported by all UHD viewing devices, whether traditional TVs, tablets or smartphones. 

Ubiquitous HEVC

HEVC has been incorporated into the standards and consortium specifications of several organizations in addition to those of IEC, ISO and ITU:

  • 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)
  • Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB)
  • Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC)
  • Blu-Ray DiscTM
  • Digital UK
  • Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB)
  • European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
  • European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
  • Ultra HD Forum 

Gearing up for the future

The video coding collaboration of IEC, ISO and ITU remains as ambitious as ever. The collaboration is working towards 2020 with the aim of delivering a new video coding standard to succeed HEVC. The next-generation standard will again feature double the compression capability of its predecessor.

Gallery
Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding In October in Los Angeles, Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding experts received an Emmy for the HEVC Standard (Photo: EEMS Group @ MIT)
Emmy statuette Emmy Award
Encoding with HVEC (Photo: Apple) Encoding with HEVC (Photo: Apple)