CHAPTER 14 H.264

H.264 has entered into the public consciousness only in the last few years, but the effort actually started back in 1997, as H.263+ was finishing up. At that point, it was becoming clear to some that adding new layers on top of H.263 was running out of steam, and yielding bigger increases in complexity than efficiency. What was then called “H.26L” was formally launched in the ITU’s Video Quality Expert’s Group (VCEG) in 1999, chaired by my now-colleague Gary Sullivan.

By eschewing the “let’s enhance H.263 again!” trend and building a new codec from the ground up, all kinds of proposed tools to improve compression efficiency were considered, even if they broke the traditional models of codec design. Their goal was to at least ...

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