What is the HEVC (H.265) Video Codec, and What Are its Benefits?

By Victor Drake

7 Min Read

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Victor Drake

Victor is a writer. By day, he's a creative copywriter, article writer and editor who crafts creative and compelling copy and content artfully weaving words that build brands and businesses worldwide.

    As the business world becomes increasingly digital, video content becomes a vital tool for connecting with customers, training employees, and sharing information. But with the rise of high-definition and ultra-high-definition video, the technology to deliver it needs to evolve.

    That’s where HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), also known as H.265, comes in. This cutting-edge codec allows for significantly smaller file sizes while maintaining high-quality video, which means faster streaming, reduced storage costs, and improved user experience.

    For businesses & streaming platforms looking to stay ahead of the curve and deliver the highest-quality video content to their customers, HEVC is the obvious choice. With its ability to support 4K and even 8K video, the future of video content delivery is now.

    We’re going to break down what HEVC is and its benefits. We’ll explain what a codec is and how to use it. We’ll also guide you on the best use cases and implementation of HEVC.

    Table of Contents

    • What is a Video Codec?
    • Why is the HEVC Codec Important?
    • What are the Benefits of Using the H.265 Codec?
    • Use Cases for the HEVC Codec
    • Considerations When Using the HEVC Codec
    • Conclusion

    What is a Video Codec?

    video codec
    Video codecs compress and decompress digital data streams and signals.

    First, let’s break down what a video codec is. A codec is a software formula or process for compressing video files.

    Video codes compress and send a video sequence using less data storage. The compressed video data can be broadcasted, transmitted, or sent over the internet more efficiently. The more efficiently the codec can compress and send the video sequence data, the better the quality received. On the receiving end, the codec uncompresses the data and displays it on-screen.

    Delivering low-latency streaming with video compression

    Whenever anyone watches a TV show, shares a video online, or makes a Facetime call, they are streaming video. All of this streaming uses a lot of data. A codec’s efficiency prevents us from running out of internet bandwidth. This efficiency is why we can watch smooth, high-quality video without lag.

    The HEVC codec, or H.265 codec, is the latest and greatest in video codec technology. Businesses who want to deploy the highest quality video content are using the HEVC format. As the successor to the H.264 (AVC) codec, video compression is quicker, more efficient and the video quality produced is higher.

    AVC processes frames of video using macroblocks, but HEVC processes information using coding tree units (CTUs). A coding tree unit processes information much more efficiently. This results in smaller file sizes and less bandwidth needed to stream videos.

    Why is High-Efficiency Video Coding Important?

    high efficiency video coding
    The importance of HEVC increases with technological advances.

    Computing power is ever-evolving. The power of workstations, tablets, and mobile devices increases yearly. Higher data and communication speeds like 5G mean computational demands continue increasing.

    This convergence of technological power is advancing video and picture quality and viewer expectations of what top-quality video is. With these increased needs, the HEVC format is important because it’s a high-efficiency method of compressing video that can display the highest quality video.

    The HEVC codec is superior to previous standards. It can send a video sequence much more efficiently. It enables professional live video streaming, broadcasting, conferencing, and more, at maximal efficiency and quality. Further, as technology continues to improve, the HEVC codec provides future-proofing.

    What are the Benefits of Using the H.265 Codec?

    H.265 codec
    The H.265 codec is the latest, more efficient version of HEVC formats.

    The H.265 codec is the next generation of video compression technology. While H.264 is still widely used for encoding video, the HEVC format is superior. High-efficiency video coding using the H.265 codec is becoming more widespread. Its screen coding ability means it has the potential to become technologically ubiquitous. This new video compression standard is making it easier for companies to provide the highest quality across major platforms.

    The biggest benefit between H.264 and H.265 is that the latter produces the same picture quality and more at half the bitrate of its predecessor. With the HEVC codec, transmission bandwidth is more efficient. Visual quality is fully maintained or better than H.264 but with half the cost. 

    For example, streaming in 1080p only requires 2-3Mbps with H.265 compared to 4-5Mbps with H.264. This new HEVC standard defines high-quality without loss in performance for widespread use. 

    Key benefits & features of HEVC

    Here are the key features of using the HEVC, H.265 codec.

    • Using HEVC decreases the storage requirements of video data.
    • HEVC decreases the bandwidth requirements of broadcasting.
    • Video picture quality is enhanced with 4K and up to 8K video resolution support.
    • HEVC supports high dynamic range (HDR) for superior video quality.
    • HEVC delivers data via live stream quicker, more efficiently, and with higher quality video.
    • HEVC has potential for universal use.

    Further, HEVC was developed to address the following technological trends.

    • Increased use of digital video: the HEVC codec helps support the increased use of digital video at larger screen resolutions. The larger the screen resolution, the more strain on network bandwidth. HEVC reduces the strain with more efficient data compression.
    • Increasing video resolutions beyond HD: Improved video quality going beyond standard HD further burdens networks and storage. The HEVC codec helps takes this pressure off as technology evolves.
    • Continuous improvements: Processing power continues to improve. Mobile devices such as smartphones have a lot more computing power today. And the HEVC codec has enough power to support a lot more growth. An improved coding efficiency results in better performance across these devices.

    In a nutshell, the HEVC codec is the best video compression technology out there. As 4K becomes standard, businesses using HEVC put them ahead of the curve.

    Many of the biggest players out there are already on the bandwagon. Netflix uses HEVC to stream 4K. Amazon’s original content is streamed in 4K. And it’s no wonder. In 2021 around 44% of US households owned a 4 K-compatible TV. This was an increase from 31% in 2019. Further, the global TV market is expected to grow to $181.37 billion in 2022. That’s up from $149.47 only the year prior. This incorporates the sales of 4K TVs and related services, such as businesses that provide 4K streaming services.

    Use Cases for the HEVC Codec

    HEVC codec
    The HEVC codec is being used for many different types of video streaming.

    Video coding standards are higher than ever. And the HEVC codec is being increasingly adopted across the board. Streaming, broadcasting, and watching your favorite shows in 4K likely uses the HEVC codec.

    The HEVC’s ability to compress, send image data and produce video sequences in the highest image quality efficiently means there are many use cases for the HEVC codec.

    Here are some of the main use cases for using the HEVC codec.

    1. Live Streaming with superb video quality

    Live streaming over the internet is bigger than ever. To deliver an immersive live experience, efficiency is key.

    Top-quality live streaming requires low latency. It also requires super-efficient video compression. Without these two aspects, live streams will lag and show up on-screen in subpar quality.

    The HEVC codec offers significantly improved compression over older codecs. With HEVC, the average bitrate reduction is cut in half. This combination is ideal for live streaming high-resolution videos over the internet, where bandwidth is often limited.

    With HEVC, businesses can provide live streams of the highest quality. Since it uses less bandwidth, more people can access them too, which can increase the viewer count. Timing is also less of an issue. The smaller file size means image data is sent more quicker. The HEVC codec makes live streams a breeze.

    2. OTT (Over-the-Top) Streaming

    OTT streaming is evermore popular. Essentially, OTT streaming is any video delivered directly through a streaming service. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu are good examples.

    Because the stakes are so high, with Netflix, Amazon, and others offering 4K video as standard, using the best screen content coding format is imperative. The high-quality video delivered by OTT platforms means larger file sizes and higher bitrates. Therefore using the most efficient video codec is important.

    The HEVC codec shrinks video file size and reduces the bitrate. This results in high-efficiency video streaming that doesn’t impact performance. This is crucial for businesses in the OTT streaming arena.

    Take sports OTT, for example. More popular than ever, diehard sports fans expect the best viewing standards. Sports fans will keep tuning in by providing a platform that supports HEVC to see their favorite teams of the highest quality.

    3. Video Conferencing

    In recent years, video conferencing has become a crucial element in business. Companies and businesses rely on video conferencing for important group meetings. However, streaming video with many people using different internet connections in different locations is taxing. There can be latency issues, and low video and audio quality.

    Since video conferencing is increasingly important for many businesses, using the best technology available is key. Using the HEVC codec can dramatically improve video conferencing. The HEVC format helps deliver the most efficient, high-quality video. The HEVC codec helps ensure nothing is missed in those all-important meetings.

    Considerations When Using the HEVC Codec

    hevc codec requirements
    Although you shouldn’t be prevented from using the HEVC codec, there are some requirements.

    Since reading about the many benefits of using the HEVC, H.265 codec, you may be wondering what considerations you may have to take. After all, technological implementation is often multifaceted. Regarding HEVC, there are a few important considerations to take into account. But there are methods for circumventing these considerations for complete adoption and best use.

    Resource Use

    Using the HEVC codec requires more computing power. And HEVC’s ability to compress and churn out high-quality video more efficiently comes at a cost. This is because compression algorithms can be complex. While it’s more efficient and effective, it requires more computing power. To effectively use HEVC, your equipment, such as your video camera and streaming platform, will have to be top-tier quality. This means businesses may need to update their hardware and software.

    Businesses can manage the HEVC codec’s resources using the best, fully-compatible equipment. This may mean upgrading current hardware or software if necessary. However, investing in HEVC hardware and software is worthwhile. With 4K and 8K videos becoming the new standard, using the HEVC codec is becoming a necessity.

    Encoding Complications

    Video encoding is a complex operation. Since compression algorithms have become increasingly complex to enable high-definition video compression, there’s a higher risk of encoding complications with HEVC. This is especially true if the hardware or software isn’t powerful enough nor fully compatible.

    Businesses can smoothen the adoption of the HEVC codec by ensuring their hardware and software is up to the task. Better equipment and fully HEVC-compatible software will reduce the risk of encoding complications.

    Compatibility Issues

    The HEVC codec has been around since 2003. Despite this and its growing use (and necessity), compatibility issues still halt its rollout. As mentioned, the HEVC codec has more complex compression algorithms. This complexity, which does a great job reducing file sizes, is part of what makes it great. However, it’s also part of what makes compatibility problematic. Hardware and software must be powerful enough for HEVC compatibility. 

    On the bright side, with major technological advances in recent years, more devices than ever are HEVC compatible. In this context, it’s only a matter of time before HEVC is truly ubiquitous.

    Businesses can reduce compatibility issues by ensuring their equipment is able to use the HEVC codec. For example, many high-quality video cameras will indicate they come with the HEVC codec. Software platforms, such as those for streaming in 4K, will also indicate whether they benefit from HEVC.

    Conclusion

    People are watching more videos than ever. Live streaming, broadcasting, OOT. Most of this is done over the internet. And video standards are higher than ever. What’s more, as mobile devices become more powerful, people are watching more of their favorite films and shows through mobile streaming.

    Businesses that want to provide their customers with the best viewing experience should incorporate the HEVC, H.265 codec. It’s more efficient and produces UHD video. Further, as technology continues to improve at an evermore rapid pace, the need for HEVC only increases. Taking advantage of the trend, beginning to implement it now, and delivering the highest quality video content is a great investment for any business.

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    Dacast ensures video streaming is seamless. With total built-in support, they’re trusted by major companies globally for all their video streaming needs. With Dacast, you can live stream, broadcast, and host in one complete end-to-end solution.

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    author avatar

    Victor Drake

    Victor is a writer. By day, he's a creative copywriter, article writer and editor who crafts creative and compelling copy and content artfully weaving words that build brands and businesses worldwide.

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