Editor’s note: Our previous discussion with V-Nova in 2021 centered around deployment and pricing strategies for the LCEVC video coding standard. If you are new to the LCEVC coding standard, read our introduction to LCEVC and performance evaluation of LCEVC.
Nearly two years later, we have reconvened to discuss the strides made in commercial trials, deployments, and the ecosystem necessary to support it.
We welcome Fabio Murra, SVP Product & Marketing at V-Nova, to join us for this interview. Thank you, Fabio.
In recent months, there have been many announcements regarding the deployment of LCEVC. We would like to discuss some of these developments with you and gain insight into V-Nova’s work developing the LCEVC coding standard.
What were your biggest challenges in trialing and deploying the first LCEVC-Enhanced experimental broadcast channel with Globo during the 2022 World Cup?
Globo’s technology showcase during the World Cup 2022 was the completion of a long project that saw the collaboration of multiple companies, bringing together the latest in their product development to demonstrate digital TV specifications, TV2.5 and TV3.0, that are still being ratified.
For us, it meant working with encoder providers and chipset manufacturers to ensure that MPEG-5 LCEVC was supported in their products and that these products were fully interoperable in a live broadcasting scenario. The collaboration between all companies involved ensured we could demonstrate LCEVC in the TV2.5 and the TV3.0 use cases.
In the former, LCEVC provides a 10-bit HDR enhancement on top of the existing H.264/AVC TV2.0 standard, while TV3.0 provides a scalable enhancement on top of the future VVC broadcast.
Integrating the technology with two different encoder vendors and two different TV and set-top box chipsets for two very different use cases was quite an achievement.
The Brazilian SBTVD Forum recently chose V-Nova’s LCEVC technology for the video enhancement codec layer of its next-generation television broadcast system TV 3.0. Can you tell us more about this and what it means for V-Nova and the Brazilian broadcasting industry?
TV3.0 is Brazil’s next-generation digital TV system, with a targeted rollout from 2025. The objective is to provide Brazilian users with the best possible quality of service in IP-based digital terrestrial broadcasting, including personalized content, UHD and HDR video, and immersive audio.
It set out to leverage all the latest and best technologies available to provide these features. After extensive tests, the SBTVD Forum selected MPEG-5 LCEVC as the enhancement layer for VVC, which is used as the base compression technology. It is a significant step in adopting LCEVC in broadcast and an important precedent for other such standards, like DVB and ATSC.
More information on TV3.0 can be found here: https://forumsbtvd.org.br/tv3_0/
Can you tell us about the recent updates you’ve made to LCEVC (MPEG-5 Part 2) technology, and how they improve video quality and reduce file size?
MPEG-5 LCEVC is a published MPEG standard, and – as such – anyone can work on an implementation for a given application where leveraging the codec enhancement features of LCEVC is beneficial.
As V-Nova, we’ve set out to build the best possible implementation for encoding and decoding LCEVC for a number of different use cases, including broadcast, pay-TV, OTT streaming, social media platforms, cloud gaming, and XR/VR.
These require particular attention to diverse performance metrics, from compression to computational performance on a given target platform.
As a consequence, we are going from a scripted implementation of LCEVC that we have contributed to Google’s Shaka Player project, to native implementations for Android and iOS mobile platforms, to implementations that are customized to run real-time on TV and set-top box chipsets at the driver level and even a silicon IP solution for future chips.
New codecs require widespread hardware and software decoder support across mobile phones, TVs, browsers, laptops, and their underlying chipsets. Please update us about the decoder support status of LCEVC.
Decoder support for LCEVC is growing rapidly, thanks to trials and showcases like the ones TV Globo carried out for the World Cup in 2022 and the Brazilian carnival in 2023. At NAB, we are one of the sponsors of the LCEVC showcase, which brings together LCEVC implementations from different vendors in the market.
The MPEG-5 LCEVC showcase at NAB this year is supported by 30 companies with MPEG-5 LCEVC-enabled products across a wide and diverse ecosystem enabling applications across broadcast, streaming, social media, and XR/VR.
Key solution providers include Allegro, AMD, Amlogic, Ateme, Harmonic, Intel, MainConcept, NETINT Technologies, NVIDIA, PresenZ, RealTek, RedpillVR, Steinwurf, THEOplayer, Videon, and, of course, V-Nova.
These commercial products go alongside our reference integrations available for HTML5 players such as Shaka Player, HLS.js, and video.js, for ExoPlayer on Android, and AVPlayer on Apple iOS and tvOS devices.
Many enthusiasts and companies would be interested in an open-source implementation of the LCEVC (MPEG 5 Part 2) spec – especially in FFmpeg. Is this on your radar, and how will this work with your licensing model?
It’s never been easier to access and use the V-Nova LCEVC implementation. An LCEVC-enabled version of FFmpeg is available on our download portal, and the necessary patches can also be accessed by those interested in building FFmpeg.
This, combined with our licensing model, which waives fees for integrations into devices, chipsets, operating systems, browsers, and encoder/player vendors, makes the technology accessible and affordable.
The LCEVC licensing model is designed to make the technology accessible and affordable for a wide range of users, being free for integration and low cost for service providers:
- V-Nova LCEVC license is free for integration, so device or chipset manufacturers, operating systems, browsers, in-house development, and encoder/player vendors can all integrate for free.
- Low cost and capped for services; the license for usage is low-cost and based on service size (per-user licenses start from as little as $0.01 per year) and capped at $3.7 million.
How has the LCEVC ecosystem evolved over the past year? Are you seeing a significant number of corporations using it?
As mentioned, LCEVC is now supported by dozens of companies across various use cases spanning broadcast, streaming, social media, and XR/VR. Within two years since standardization, creating an LCEVC-enhanced workflow from end-to-end with commercially available products and solutions is possible.
This was recently demonstrated during the FIFA World Cup 2022, where a group of companies mustered solutions, under the leadership of Globo, to create a trial live channel streaming and broadcasting the event’s matches.
Thank you, Fabio, for this interview and for giving us an idea of the work that’s taken place in the past year. We look forward to catching up with you at NAB 2023 and wish you all the best.
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar
Krishna Rao Vijayanagar, Ph.D., is the Editor-in-Chief of OTTVerse, a news portal covering tech and business news in the OTT industry.
With extensive experience in video encoding, streaming, analytics, monetization, end-to-end streaming, and more, Krishna has held multiple leadership roles in R&D, Engineering, and Product at companies such as Harmonic Inc., MediaMelon, and Airtel Digital. Krishna has published numerous articles and research papers and speaks at industry events to share his insights and perspectives on the fundamentals and the future of OTT streaming.