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16 June 2016

AOMedia signs up two more encoding guys for royalty free video

There is more movement this week on the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), with French encoder maker Ateme and MPEG patent holder Vidyo, joining the royalty free compression effort.

There is some confusion however, with some participants treating AOMedia’s royalty free license as if it was only intended for browser based video, while set tops and other devices would continue down the HEVC track. If our understanding is right, the emergence of AV1, the new AOMedia codec, will sweep HEVC aside, as well as allow for browser based video.

We have always said that once one real time encoder supplier breaks cover, and in Ateme, this is an encoder supplier with roots further up the video chain in contribution feeds, then all the other major encoder vendors would follow suit. Ateme is perhaps a smaller voice out in the wilderness with no major parent company, compared with Amazon’s Elemental, Ericsson’s Envivio and Harmonic, which acquired Thomson. But of course in Cisco there is one encoder major backing AOMedia, due to its acquisition of multiple encoding specialists in the past.

As a member of the Alliance, Ateme says it will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Ateme says it brings two decades of R&D on video compression to the party and is an active contributor to international standardization bodies. AOMedia has made the AV1 codec source code available openly.

This is about the next phase of the AOMedia plan – show the world how much in ahead of HEVC it is and begin to reel in all the participants that rely on being on top of video to make their living.

Vidyo a specialist in HD video conferencing is perhaps less of a surprise, although it is a convert from the MPEG LA, one of 32 licensors of technology acknowledged in the HEVC patent pool. It has 5 US patents that were deemed essential for MPEG LA’s pool on HEVC, which relate to the timing on video sequences, defenses to video quality against video packet loss and hierarchical bit streams and scalable coding. It could be that AOMedia felt that these were specific patents its AV1 could benefit from.

Vidyo says contributions will rest on a long history in codec design with emphasis on interactive real-time communications. Vidyo says it was involved with H.264, HEVC and the open source VP9 codecs.

AOMedia is scheduled to release its first royalty free codec between December 2016 and March 2017.