May 21, 2024

Advanced Video Coding: The Future of Video Compression

Advanced Video Coding or AVC, also commonly known as H.264, has revolutionized the video compression landscape and become one of the most widely used video coding standards. Let’s take a deeper look at AVC and understand how it has enabled higher quality video experiences across a wide range of applications.

History and Development of AVC

Advanced Video Coding (AVC) was developed jointly by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) standards groups and finalized in May 2003. The collaboration between these international standardization bodies aimed to produce a high performance video compression standard with significantly better compression than prior standards. The development process took around 5 years with participation from major technology companies and research institutions.

AVC incorporates many innovative compression techniques that have substantially improved compression efficiency compared to its predecessors. Some of the key coding tools in AVC include smaller block-based motion compensation, variable block-size transform, in-loop deblocking filter, entropy coding of residual data and more. These improvements have allowed AVC to achieve 50% better compression than MPEG-2 and H.263, enabling higher quality video at lower bitrates.

Widespread Adoption Across Industries

The superior compression capabilities of AVC have led to its widespread adoption across industries for video delivery and storage applications. It is used for streaming video on websites and OTT platforms, video calling on smartphones and computers, video broadcasting, video surveillance, video discs like Blu-ray, video conferencing systems and more. AVC/H.264 is integrated into modern devices, software and web browsers, allowing seamless playback of videos compressed in this format.

Some key applications and platforms that use AVC include:

– YouTube videos: AVC is the dominant format for video uploads and streams on YouTube. Its compression efficiency supports high resolution videos at reasonable bitrates.

– IPTV/OTT video services: Leading providers like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar etc. rely on AVC to deliver HD and 4K video over bandwidth constrained networks.

– Blu-ray Disc: AVC with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 High Profile is the compression standard specified for high definition optical disc formats like Blu-ray.

– Broadcast television: Many digital TV systems around the world have adopted AVC/H.264 for delivery of HD and Ultra HD content via terrestrial, satellite and cable networks.

– Video Surveillance: AVC enabled high resolution, network-based video surveillance installations in cities, public places, enterprises etc.

Its ubiquitous support across platforms has made AVC an indispensable video coding standard powering video applications and services worldwide. The heritage of AVC will carry forward to future video coding technologies as well.

Evolution of AVC – HEVC and Beyond

While AVC brought dramatic improvements over prior standards, the demands of higher resolutions, VR/360 video and other new formats required even greater efficiencies. This led to the development of the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard finalized in 2013.

HEVC offers around 50% better compression efficiency than AVC for the same level of quality, especially at higher resolutions. Some of the innovative techniques incorporated in HEVC include smaller coding tree units, predictor refinement, transform skipping and more sophisticated entropy coding.

HEVC is now being adopted across industries for streaming 8K, 360-degree video and other emerging use cases, complementing the role played by AVC for HD content. Many services are also transitioning HD libraries to HEVC to save storage and bandwidth.

Looking ahead, ongoing standardization efforts are focused on extensions of HEVC likescreen content coding, omnidirectional media coding and future video coding (FVC). FVC aims to deliver another 50% improvement over HEVC through advanced tools like parameterization of block partitioning, adaptive loop filters and increased parallelism support. These future standards will propel the evolution of immersive media and other applications.


Advanced Video Coding (AVC) revolutionized video compression and has remained the dominant standard for the last two decades, enabling the growth of the video industry. Its widespread adoption reflects the unparalleled compression gains and industry backing it delivers. While HEVC is now taking over for higher resolutions use cases, the innovative foundation laid by AVC will continue to influenceCompression innovation going ahead as technology moves towards 8K, holography and beyond. AVC will surely be regarded as one of the most impactful and widely used standards in video history for its role in advancing multimedia experiences globally.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it