Are we heading for an MPEG-DASH and HEVC future?
It came as no surprise to anyone working in our industry that MPEG DASH and HEVC were the talk of this year’s IBC in Amsterdam — at least in the Connected World area of the show in Hall 14, in which IBC cordons off those of us whose interest in the synergy between broadcast and online comes firmly from the online angle.
What was a bit surprising, however, was the degree to which both the DASH delivery scheme and the HEVC codec (also known as H.265) were discussed as faits accomplis and debated as either “it’s about time” standards or a combined one-two punch that would be the death knell of innovation in the online video technology space.
I’ve discussed HEVC (High Efficiency Video codec) a.k.a H.265 before. MPEG-DASH is a new streaming media format. Given that a large percentage of delivery has moved to a real-time delivery over HTTP then a consistent real time delivery format is desirable as a standard. MPEG continues to refer to the standards body – the Motion Picture Expert Group – while DASH referrs to Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP. This is very similar to what Apple and others are using now for HLS (HTTP LIve Streaming, which is also adaptive).
So we’re looking at an evolution into the next generation of MPEG codec with a newly standardized real time delivery format. I like standards, particularly when there aren’t too many! This one feels very real:
But the combination of MPEG DASH and HEVC created a perfect storm in which it was quite clear that for every vendor in our space who feels that any sort of standard is anathema to the advance of both technological invention and capitalist progress, there are just as many who feel like agreeing upon a standard delivery system and corresponding codec will actually enable greater innovation to occur on different fronts. The fact that word came out just prior to IBC that the French government had “mandated” the use of MPEG DASH in all connected televisions gave ammunition to the anti-standards contingent — which, of course, includes a subset that also happens to be anti-European, or at least Francophobic. (As Siglin also reported, the reality is quite a bit more nuanced — the requirement applies only to France’s TNT 2.0 HbbTV connected TV scheme.)