Radiant Media Player

HEVC (H.265 video) support

Why we need a new generation of video codecs?

With the advent of UHD (4K), HFR (high frame rate) and HDR content the bandwidth requirements to deliver media content over the Internet with classic video codecs (meaning H.264 or VP9) has exploded. Many providers faces significant operational cost increase to deliver those new standards.

The need for a new generation of video codecs able to encode media content at a reasonable bitrate for 4K or even 8K content is blatant. As of mid-2017 two solutions are emerging to address this issue:

  • HEVC which promises to reduce output file sizes by up to 50% for the same quality as AVC (H.264). HEVC adoption has been slow so far and many licensing concerns (mostly due to HEVC being significantly more expensive than AVC) has put HEVC in a tough spot. However things may change with Apple announcing support for HEVC with HLS on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra at WWDC 2017.
  • AV1 from the Alliance for Open Media which is being finalised (as of June 2017). AV1 is an open and royalty free video codec (much like VP9) and backed by many Internet giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Many wishes AV1 to become the new standard for online video but we can bet that companies holding HEVC patents are going to be reluctant to sail with AV1 even if it becomes as good as HEVC and this may result in adoption issues as well.

Radiant Media Player HEVC support

Radiant Media Player relies on the device it runs on to provide HEVC decoding support in order to render HEVC encoded content with HTML5 video. This is true for native HTML5 video rendering (e.g. progressive download) or through media source extensions.

As of June 2017 the only browser that supports HEVC natively is Desktop MS Edge on Windows 10 assuming it runs on a device with a high-end graphic card capable of providing HEVC decoding. But again this may change rapidly as Apple has announced it will support HEVC with HLS on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra at WWDC 2017.

At Radiant Media Player we already support HEVC video with HE-AACv2 audio with DASH or MP4 progressive download. In order to put all pieces together Radiant Media Player offers 3 options:

  • If a DASH manifest holds renditions with both AVC & HEVC video the player will automatically pick HEVC video where supported and AVC video if not.
  • For progressive download you can pass a mp4Hevc property to the bitrates object which would allow the player to opt for MP4 with HEVC/AAC where supported and to fallback to MP4 AVC/AAC where not.
  • Query the hasHevcSupport player API method before init is called on player. This method will tell you if HEVC is supported on the target device.

Example: in the following player if HEVC is supported you will see the Elephants Dream movie - if not you will see the Big Buck Bunny movie. This examples uses the hasHevcSupport player API method (look for hasHevcSupport in page source for implementation details if needed).