Friday, May 17, 2024

MPEG news: a report from the 145th meeting

This blog post is based on the MPEG press release and has been modified/updated here to focus on and highlight research aspects. This version of the blog post will also be posted at ACM SIGMM Records.

The 145th MPEG meeting was held online from 22-26 January 2024, and the official press release can be found here. It comprises the following highlights:
  • Latest Edition of the High Efficiency Image Format Standard Unveils Cutting-Edge Features for Enhanced Image Decoding and Annotation
  • MPEG Systems finalizes Standards supporting Interoperability Testing
  • MPEG finalizes the Third Edition of MPEG-D Dynamic Range Control
  • MPEG finalizes the Second Edition of MPEG-4 Audio Conformance
  • MPEG Genomic Coding extended to support Transport and File Format for Genomic Annotations
  • MPEG White Paper: Neural Network Coding (NNC) – Efficient Storage and Inference of Neural Networks for Multimedia Applications
This column will focus on the High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) and interoperability testing. As usual, a brief update on MPEG-DASH et al. will be provided.

High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF)

The High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) is a widely adopted standard in the imaging industry that continues to grow in popularity. At the 145th MPEG meeting, MPEG Systems (WG 3) ratified its third edition, which introduces exciting new features, such as progressive decoding capabilities that enhance image quality through a sequential, single-decoder instance process. With this enhancement, users can decode bitstreams in successive steps, with each phase delivering perceptible improvements in image quality compared to the preceding step. Additionally, the new edition introduces a sophisticated data structure that describes the spatial configuration of the camera and outlines the unique characteristics responsible for generating the image content. The update also includes innovative tools for annotating specific areas in diverse shapes, adding a layer of creativity and customization to image content manipulation. These annotation features cater to the diverse needs of users across various industries.

Research aspects: Progressive coding has been a part of modern image coding formats for some time now. However, the inclusion of supplementary metadata provides an opportunity to explore new use cases that can benefit both user experience (UX) and quality of experience (QoE) in academic settings.

Interoperability Testing

MPEG standards typically comprise format definitions (or specifications) to enable interoperability among products and services from different vendors. Interestingly, MPEG goes beyond these format specifications and provides reference software and conformance bitstreams, allowing conformance testing.

At the 145th MPEG meeting, MPEG Systems (WG 3) finalized two standards comprising conformance and reference software by promoting it to the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS), the final stage of standards development. The finalized standards, ISO/IEC 23090-24 and ISO/IEC 23090-25, showcase the pinnacle of conformance and reference software for scene description and visual volumetric video-based coding data, respectively.

ISO/IEC 23090-24 focuses on conformance and reference software for scene description, providing a comprehensive reference implementation and bitstream tailored for conformance testing related to ISO/IEC 23090-14, scene description. This standard opens new avenues for advancements in scene depiction technologies, setting a new standard for conformance and software reference in this domain.

Similarly, ISO/IEC 23090-25 targets conformance and reference software for the carriage of visual volumetric video-based coding data. With a dedicated reference implementation and bitstream, this standard is poised to elevate the conformance testing standards for ISO/IEC 23090-10, the carriage of visual volumetric video-based coding data. The introduction of this standard is expected to have a transformative impact on the visualization of volumetric video data.

At the same 145th MPEG meeting, MPEG Audio Coding (WG6) celebrated the completion of the second edition of ISO/IEC 14496-26, audio conformance, elevating it to the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) stage. This significant update incorporates seven corrigenda and five amendments into the initial edition, originally published in 2010.

ISO/IEC 14496-26 serves as a pivotal standard, providing a framework for designing tests to ensure the compliance of compressed data and decoders with the requirements outlined in ISO/IEC 14496-3 (MPEG-4 Audio). The second edition reflects an evolution of the original, addressing key updates and enhancements through diligent amendments and corrigenda. This latest edition, now at the FDIS stage, marks a notable stride in MPEG Audio Coding's commitment to refining audio conformance standards and ensuring the seamless integration of compressed data within the MPEG-4 Audio framework.

These standards will be made freely accessible for download on the official ISO website, ensuring widespread availability for industry professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts alike.

Research aspects: Reference software and conformance bitstreams often serve as the basis for further research (and development) activities and, thus, are highly appreciated. For example, reference software of video coding formats (e.g., HM for HEVC, VM for VVC) can be used as a baseline when improving coding efficiency or other aspects of the coding format.


The current status of MPEG-DASH is shown in the figure below.
MPEG-DASH Status, January 2024.

The following most notable aspects have been discussed at the 145th MPEG meeting and adopted into ISO/IEC 23009-1, which will eventually become the 6th edition of the MPEG-DASH standard:
  • It is now possible to pass CMCD parameters sid and cid via the MPD URL.
  • Segment duration patterns can be signaled using SegmentTimeline.
  • Definition of a background mode of operation, which allows a DASH player to receive MPD updates and listen to events without possibly decrypting or rendering any media.
Additionally, the technologies under consideration (TuC) document has been updated with means to signal maximum segment rate, extend copyright license signaling, and improve haptics signaling in DASH. Finally, REAP is progressing towards FDIS but not yet there and most details will be discussed in the upcoming AhG period.

The 146th MPEG meeting will be held in Rennes, France, from April 22-26, 2024. Click here for more information about MPEG meetings and their developments.

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