The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has formally standardized the “VC-1” advanced compression scheme that is already being used in new digital video products.
SMPTE has released the document “Standard for Compressed Video Bitstreams,” along with supporting “Recommended Practices” to guide companies in building interoperable solutions based on VC-1, which is supposed to yield better picture quality for a given bit rate than the well-established MPEG-2 compression system.
“Standardization of VC-1 represents over two years of work by more that 120 individuals representing over 75 media and entertainment companies, and many companies throughout the industry have been promoting VC-1 integration for some time now,” says Ingo Höntsch, Chair of SMPTE’s Video Compression Technology Committee.
Formal standardization of VC-1 was proposed by Microsoft, which contributed decoder source code and other resources towards development of the process.
Microsoft’s implementation of VC-1, called WMV9 or Windows Media Video 9, has been selected for diverse applications such as MovieBeam, the Disney-backed on-demand video service; Modeo, the proposed mobile TV service that Crown Castle plans to launch later this year; and high-definition optical disk formats---both the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats have chosen VC-1 as one of three formats studios can use to deliver their movies in high definition.
“Formal standardization of VC-1 provides stability for manufacturers and allows for a high level of confidence that users can interchange bitstreams between products from different manufacturers,” says Peter Symes, SMPTE Engineering Vice President, adding: “The work was contentious at times, and initially some people thought that SMPTE would just ‘rubber stamp’ the Microsoft document. In fact, many individuals and organizations contributed to the final documents over the two-year development period.”