Do we really need better video compression? MPEG’s dead right?


Be on the lookout on what is being said about MPEG. A LOT what is being said is inaccurate and wrong.  In fact there was no “MPEG fiasco” of sort. Some people have been talking about “MPEG collapsing”, “MPEG dead”, and whatever, but it is simply not true.

Quite simply, the ISO did a reorg of multimedia Sub-Committee 29, changed the boss and made MPEG report to him, somewhat depowering the MPEG governor (Leonardo Chiariglione). Chiariglione didn’t take this so well and resigned, walking out, slamming the door and not saying very nice things about the ISO leaders. Not always a good idea, but not a big deal.

It is too bad about Chiariglione, who is a great man and has contributed in many ways an immeasurable amount of insight and innovation. But that said, he deserves to now enjoy what he has created and be appreciated for what he done. It will be tough for the ISO to find a successor that can bring Chiariglone’s strength, but with the naming of Gary Sullivan there will be stability and ability to help navigate.

This upheaval at MPEG has nothing to do with the current wave of standards (MPEG-5 Part 1 EVC, VVC and MPEG-5 Part 2 LCEVC, which will all be already published by the time the reorg takes effect).  Aside from the fact that ISO is not going to die (MPEG = multimedia section of ISO/IEC, something that many in the industry neglect), after completion, the market adoption of a published ISO/IEC standard will have nothing to do with the evolutions of the work that contributed to its definition.

Point being either a standard is useful or not.  If it is impactful, easy to deploy, easy to license and fairly priced, whatever background story on the standardization body politics and/or organization has no impact.  It only has impact on the future standards, i.e., more of a matter of discussion for who cares about the standards that will come out in the season 2023-2025.

It has been also said that “engagement decisions aren’t always made on the best tech”, while in some cases the are lemmings that follow this mantra. But, if executives do not use an available open standard that brings massive business benefits and extremely low costs, they are poor managers and should consider a new line of work.

Once licensing is settled at a fair rate, the tech will be an open standard available for anyone to implement and the benefits will be clear and if there are no political reasons of sort that should block adoption then only organizational inertia or flat-out ignorance will cause the industry to suffer. Sure it is all of our duty in the category inform and help clarify why video codecs are so key and help overcome the political games between AV1, EVC and VVC and step past the political games trickling down to LCEVC.  But this should not take place as LCEVC is neither a stand-alone codec nor overall a silicon-based standard, so there should be no political games and is not participating in the codec war: in many ways it is Switzerland.

So, because of all of this do we really need better compression? Yes!

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