Sky Italia has already deployed V-Nova’s Perseus compression technology for video contribution.
V-Nova, a London based video compression start-up, has released an SDK to enable integration of its Perseus software into existing ecosystems. The aim is to stimulate deployment of its encoding technology as an alternative to the HEVC codec for video distribution almost a year after its launch in April 2015.
The company says it has been working on the SDK (Software Development Kit) since that launch and claims that operators, system integrators and online video platform providers can now readily integrate and deploy PERSEUS technology on existing ecosystems for the delivery of full HD or even UHD/4K video over bandwidth constrained networks. V-Nova is particularly interested in targeting mobile TV services where it believes HEVC does not yield sufficient compression to deliver premium HD services. V-Nova says its own tests show Perseus can compress video down at least to half the bit rate for a given quality compared with HEVC, while also saving on power consumption and computational resources.
“This product release is the result of the work we have done in the past year with customers and industry partners to address real-life customer projects,” said Guido Meardi, V-Nova CEO and Co-Founder. “We have now packaged the software to make it more readily scalable and available for TV service providers and platform operators to deploy on any equipment or media player in their ecosystem.”
The SDK makes the Perseus software available as encoder or decoder plug-ins for integration and deployment within an operator’s existing ecosystem. These plug-ins are supported on a number of different platforms including Intel x86-based encoders, along with iOS and Android consumer devices. They are also available in pre-integrated encoding/decoding combinations through industry partners to improve cost-effectiveness in the hope of encouraging deployment of Perseus for OTT services.
The Perseus software is now more scalable and ready for TV service providers and platform operators to deploy in their existing ecosystem, according to Guido Meardi, V-Nova CEO and Co-Founder.
Perseus has achieved some significant endorsements since its launch, both from analyst groups such as Strategy Analytics and also broadcasters like IRT in Germany. But to date deployments have largely been confined to video contribution as an alternative to JPEG2000 rather than for service distribution where the MPEG standards HEVC or its predecessor H.264/MPEG4 are dominant. This was the case for satellite operator Sky Italia, which was a launch partner for Perseus and enthusiastic about its performance for contribution. Sky Italia’s Head of Engineering and Innovation Massimo Bertolotti said at the time that Perseus had achieved more than a 50% reduction in bit rate and close to 70% for typical studio production compared with JPEG2000 for video contribution from sports arenas.
The improvement in performance over JPEG2000 as well as H.264 in contribution has also been ratified in tests by IRT (Institut für Rundfunktechnik), the R&D wing of German broadcasters ARD and ZDF. These confirmed “a substantial improvement compared to JPEG2000 and a quality that challenges H.264-intra-based production codecs," according to a statement from IRT.
Meanwhile Bertolotti said at the launch that Sky Italia was evaluating Perseus both for inter-studio interconnection at high bit rates and also for distribution within the current delivery ecosystem. But since then Sky Italia has been conspicuous by its silence on the subject of video compression with no indication that it has extended its deployment of Perseus beyond contribution. There is a general reluctance on the part of major operators to switch from the tried and trusted MPEG group of technologies to an emerging and relatively unproven encoder for mission critical service distribution. V-Nova is hoping that its new SDK goes some way to overcoming such reticence by easing the migration path and enabling integration with existing video players and other infrastructure components.
V-Nova is most hopeful of gaining traction among mobile networks where there is less legacy to overcome and where the performance advantages of Perseus can prove compelling given the bandwidth constraints. It is notable that some of the strongest endorsements among major operators have come from the mobile front, with EE, now owned by UK incumbent Telco BT, having trialled the technology to stream 4K over its 4G network. “The trial with V-Nova has proven that smart software like Perseus can make a big difference for mobile network operators managing their long term video strategy,” said Matt Stagg, Head of Video Strategy at EE at the time.
But now V-Nova is clearly anxious to regain its earlier momentum in the face of growing activity around mobile TV and UHD/4K deployment. Apart from the MPEG community around HEVC, there is also competition on the encoding front from the Alliance for Open Media backed by most of the big Internet technology groups except Apple, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix and Cisco. Launched in September 2015 this was proposed as a royalty free codec, aiming to exploit the controversy over pricing of Intellectual Property (IP) associated with HEVC.
While there is little dispute that V-Nova has stolen a march over HEVC and Alliance for Open Media in terms of raw performance it currently lacks the same level of heavyweight industry backing. History suggests that when that is the case the emerging technology tends to get incorporated in the mainstream codecs, through acquisition of the IP in some way. However V-Nova argues that HEVC is based on a fundamentally outmoded approach and is unsuited for the era of parallel processing on multicore chips, so that the whole MPEG movement has reached the end of the road.
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