Streaming Forum: Addressing DASH and HEVC Benefits and Roadbumps

The promise of new video encoding technology HEVC combined with streaming delivery mechanism MPEG-DASH is widely considered a beneficial one, though questions of cost and deployment remain.

On DASH, Ali C. Begen, Cisco's lead engineer for its Video and Content Platforms Research and Advanced Development Group sounded a warning: “Nobody wants to be the first one to deploy -- but as case studies emerge things will get easier.”

Thomas Schierl, head of the multimedia communications group at Fraunhofer/HHI, said of HEVC: “It's typical of a codec that has just been published that there is no hardware decoder available -- although we expect this to come soon.”

These were two of several panelists on the Streaming Forum 2013 MPEG-DASH and HEVC new standards session who played key roles in ITU or MPEG initiatives drawing up the specifications.

“These are sets of open standards which will provide us with the confidence for interoperating different equipment and provide us with the means to reach new audiences by generalizing HD consumption to any device,” said Gilles Teniou, senior standardization Manager for content and TV services at Orange.

From a broadcaster perspective the combination also promises business benefits: “The combination of DASH and HEVC will be beneficial in improving picture quality, perhaps provide new services like time shifting, and at the same time as lowering bit rate, which is especially important in Germany where data caps have been introduced for end-users of video,” explained Bram Tullemans, project manager for software platforms and broadband networks for EBU Technology & Innovation Department.

There are caveats, though. “We've noticed that the quality of experience with DASH varies from one player to another even when both are accessing the same service over the same mobile network which could of course be frustrating for the end-user,” reported Teniou. “Perhaps metrics could be shared from the network to provide a better experience.

“The issue with DASH is who can make the best example files and show what kind of use cases can be developed?” Teniou added. “These discussions are ongoing. Then, what do broadcasters want to do with the standard? There are also questions we cannot solve yet, such as how to address subtitling standards, which are a mess. So we have to conform to the best option, which is not necessarily the ideal option.”

Qualcomm's technical standards consultant Thomas Stockhammer said, “From a pure writing-the-specification point of view, very little needs to be done with DASH. We deliberately set about reusing a lot of aspects available from AVC [DASH-264]. The issue is that this needs to be moved into productization and this requires testing and ironing out interoperability issues. Whether this is a task for which MPEG itself is responsible I am not sure. It could be partly MPEG but also bodies outside of it such as the DASH Industry Forum.”

From Cisco's perspective DASH is the more important technology. “As an open standard it means I can hook it into my transport and do something intelligent inside the network with the media segments,” said Bergen. “That's something of a drawback with proprietary systems. With DASH, hopefully we can see what's going on and make smarter decisions about transport.

“MPEG did a good job in terms of specifying the media segments [in DASH], but when it comes to encoding and packaging, these are an art. Nobody really knows how to choose different product profiles in order to make work seamless on the client side.

“While storage costs associated with hardware have been dropping and we may consider HEVC a more efficient use of bits, the amount of content being sent over the network, including formats such as 3D, multiview video and UltraHD, is increasing exponentially,” Begen argued. “That is a lot of new hardware, new transport links and routers. So from that perspective HEVC and DASH are essential requirements just to keep pace with demand.”

Although there are understood to be no royalty fees for deploying DASH, the license fees for HEVC have not been announced.

“The gains achieved by HEVC are quite high and so people will be prepared to pay for it,” says Schierl. “In the long run HEVC will save money or make money for people.”

Watch the full discussion below:

Video Platform Video Management Video Solutions Video Player

DASH and HEVC: New Standards Enabling Ultra- High Quality Video Services
Moderator: Christian Timmerer, CEO | Head of Research, bitmovin — Austria
Thomas Stockhammer, Consultant, Technical Standards, Qualcomm — USA
Ali C. Begen, Lead Engineer, Video and Content Platforms Research and Advanced Development Group, CISCO — Canada
Thomas Schierl, Head of Multimedia Communications Group, Fraunhofer/HHI — Germany
Gilles Teniou, Senior Standardisation Manager - Content & TV Services, Orange — France
Bram Tullemans, Project Manager, Software Platforms & Broadband Networks, EBU Technology & Innovation Department — Switzerland

The first versions of the DASH and HEVC standards have recently been approved and the first services will soon be deployed. This panel will identify issues and possible solutions for the successful deployment of DASH and HEVC from the content, service, and network providers’ point of view and from that of device and equipment manufacturers.

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