Friday, August 11, 2023

MPEG news: a report from the 143rd meeting

The original blog post can be found at the Bitmovin Techblog and has been modified/updated here to focus on and highlight research aspects. Additionally, this version of the blog post will also be posted at ACM SIGMM Records.

MPEG News Archive

The 143rd MPEG meeting took place in person in Geneva, Switzerland. The official press release can be accessed here and includes the following details:

  • MPEG finalizes the Carriage of Uncompressed Video and Images in ISOBMFF
  • MPEG reaches the First Milestone for two ISOBMFF Enhancements
  • MPEG ratifies Third Editions of VVC and VSEI
  • MPEG reaches the First Milestone of AVC (11th Edition) and HEVC Amendment
  • MPEG Genomic Coding extended to support Joint Structured Storage and Transport of Sequencing Data, Annotation Data, and Metadata
  • MPEG completes Reference Software and Conformance for Geometry-based Point Cloud Compression

We have adjusted the press release to suit the audience here and emphasized research on video technologies. This blog post centers around ISOBMFF and video codecs. As always, I will conclude with an update on MPEG-DASH.

ISOBMFF Enhancements

The ISO Base Media File Format (ISOBMFF) supports the carriage of a wide range of media data such as video, audio, point clouds, haptics, etc., which has now been further extended to uncompressed videos and images.

ISO/IEC 23001-17 – Carriage of uncompressed video and images in ISOBMFF – specifies how uncompressed 2D image and video data is carried in files that comply with the ISOBMFF family of standards. This encompasses a range of data types, including monochromatic and color data, transparency (alpha) information, and depth information. The standard enables the industry to effectively exchange uncompressed video and image data while utilizing all additional information provided by the ISOBMFF, such as timing, color space, and sample aspect ratio for interoperable interpretation and/or display of uncompressed video and image data.

ISO/IEC 14496-15 (based on ISOBMFF), provides the basis for "network abstraction layer (NAL) unit structured video coding formats" such as AVC, HEVC, and VVC. The current version is the 6th edition, which has been amended to support neural-network post-filter supplemental enhancement information (SEI) messages. This amendment defines the carriage of the neural-network post-filter characteristics (NNPFC) SEI messages and the neural-network post-filter activation (NNPFA) SEI messages to enable the delivery of (i) a base post-processing filter and (ii) a series of neural network updates synchronized with the input video pictures/frames.

Research aspects: While the former, the carriage of uncompressed video and images in ISOBMFF, seems to be something obvious to be supported within a file format, the latter enables to use neural network-based post-processing filters to enhance video quality after the decoding process, which is an active field of research. The current extensions with the file format provide a baseline for the evaluation (cf. also next section). 

Video Codec Enhancements

MPEG finalized the specifications of the third editions of the Versatile Video Coding (VVC, ISO/IEC 23090-3) and the Versatile Supplemental Enhancement Information (VSEI, ISO/IEC 23002-7) standards. Additionally, MPEG issued the Committee Draft (CD) text of the eleventh edition of the Advanced Video Coding (AVC, ISO/IEC 14496-10) standard and the Committee Draft Amendment (CDAM) text on top of the High Efficiency Video Coding standard (HEVC, ISO/IEC 23008-2).

These SEI messages include two systems-related SEI messages, (a) one for signaling of green metadata as specified in ISO/IEC 23001-11 and (b) the other for signaling of an alternative video decoding interface for immersive media as specified in ISO/IEC 23090-13. Furthermore, the neural network post-filter characteristics SEI message and the neural-network post-processing filter activation SEI message have been added to AVC, HEVC, and VVC.

The two SEI messages for describing and activating post-filters using neural network technology in video bitstreams could, for example, be used for reducing coding noise, spatial and temporal upsampling (i.e., super-resolution and frame interpolation), color improvement, or general denoising of the decoder output. The description of the neural network architecture itself is based on MPEG’s neural network representation standard (ISO/IEC 15938 17). As results from an exploration experiment have shown, neural network-based post-filters can deliver better results than conventional filtering methods. Processes for invoking these new post-filters have already been tested in a software framework and will be made available in an upcoming version of the VVC reference software (ISO/IEC 23090-16).

Research aspects: SEI messages for neural network post-filters (NNPF) for AVC, HEVC, and VVC, including systems supports within the ISOBMFF, is a powerful tool(box) for interoperable visual quality enhancements at the client. This tool(box) will (i) allow for Quality of Experience (QoE) assessments and (ii) enable the analysis thereof across codecs once integrated within the corresponding reference software. 


The current status of MPEG-DASH is depicted in the figure below:

The latest edition of MPEG-DASH is the 5th edition (ISO/IEC 23009-1:2022) which is publicly/freely available here. There are currently three amendments under development:

  • ISO/IEC 23009-1:2022 Amendment 1: Preroll, nonlinear playback, and other extensions. This amendment has been ratified already and is currently being integrated into the 5th edition of part 1 of the MPEG-DASH specification.
  • ISO/IEC 23009-1:2022 Amendment 2: EDRAP streaming and other extensions. EDRAP stands for Extended Dependent Random Access Point and at this meeting the Draft Amendment (DAM) has been approved. EDRAP increases the coding efficiency for random access and has been adopted within VVC.
  • ISO/IEC 23009-1:2022 Amendment 3: Segment sequences for random access and switching. This amendment is at Committee Draft Amendment (CDAM) stage, the first milestone of the formal standardization process. This amendment aims at improving tune-in time for low latency streaming.

Additionally, MPEG Technologies under Consideration (TuC) comprises a few new work items, such as content selection and adaptation logic based on device orientation and signaling of haptics data within DASH.

Finally, part 9 of MPEG-DASH -- redundant encoding and packaging for segmented live media (REAP) -- has been promoted to Draft International Standard (DIS). It is expected to be finalized in the upcoming meetings.

Research aspects: Random access has been extensively evaluated in the context of video coding but not (low latency) streaming. Additionally, the TuC item related to content selection and adaptation logic based on device orientation raises QoE issues to be further explored.

The 144th MPEG meeting will be held in Hannover from October 16-20, 2023. Click here for more information about MPEG meetings and their developments.

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