Delivery Codecs

2 minute read

When streaming, HEVC and AV1 are the newer competing compression standards for UHD/4K video. HEVC, also known as h.265, is the “next generation” of H.264/AVC encoding, and promises to cut file size by 50% or more compared to H.264 encoding. Unfortunately, there is licensing involved with h.265 usage, making wide adoption to be much slower than anticipated. AV1 was born from this licensing debacle, and companies like Amazon, Google, and Netflix have moved towards this royalty free codec. AV1 also promises an additional 30% file savings compared to HEVC. As the “4K formats war” continues, it’s important to always check with your VOD partner o what standard they are utilizing.

For UHD/4K broadcast outlets, XAVC appears to be the new “standard”. As there is no formal broadcast codec for UHD/4K formats, XAVC has been engineered to be a trade-off between quality and ease of playback. This is accomplished via “classes” (of quality: 50, 100, 200, 300, 480) . XAVC is actually the highest quality level (5.2) of the H.264 standard you’re accustomed to. This means it’s a bit easier for current NLEs (and the computers they run on) to work with. Many cameras will record into this format, too. XAVC for broadcast is much like how XDCAM was for broadcast in 2005. These files are traditionally in an OP1a MXF wrapper.

Broadcast outlets may also request 720p or 1080i DNxHD/DNxHR, or ProRes, or XDCAM in an OP1a MXF wrapper as opposed to the newer XAVC format. The changeover from traditional HD broadcast outlets to ATSC 3.0 (“next gen” T.V.) is just beginning, and not all facilities may be able to accept UHD/4K material.

Of course, you should always make sure your deliver codec meets your desired level of image quality. Check out the Codec Comparison to see how different codecs affect your footage.

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