HEVC (High Efficiency Video Codec) is likely to be one of the most talked about topics at IBC this year, not only because it promises to reduce the data rate needed for high quality video coding by 50% compared to the current state-of-the-art, but also because the new coding standard simply does not support interlacing:
And that’s a really good thing because when it comes to achieving a high quality, clean encode of video – and in particular high frame rate, high-resolution video – then interlacing is a huge distraction. Inevitably it adds noise and reduces quality, because the compromises inherent in it do not work well with the underlying algorithms. Moreover, all display devices and most capture devices inherently use progressive scanning. This is a good thing because it encourages everyone to start using more and more progressive techniques in their distribution operations.
While I wholeheartedly believe that HEVC will mark the end of interlacing, we still have some ways to go before we truly rid the world of the evil that is interlace. In fact, the professional content creation industry is still generating more 1080i material every year than progressive material. While this continues to be the case, good quality de-interlacing in the value chain will be vital for the success of HEVC in professional deployments.
So if your content was created in an interlaced format or restored from an archive in an interlaced format, don’t give up! Passing it through a professional de-interlacer will at least ensure a clean progressive signal, free from artifacts, going in to the HEVC encoder. And if you integrate high quality de-interlacing within a generic transcode platform, and tightly couple transcode to a variety of media QC tools to check quality before delivery, you’re got a winner! If you come and see us at IBC, we’ll be able to show you a really good de-interlacer can help HEVC look great for all content.