Introducing 16-bit Video Compression

Francis Doumet


The main video codecs of our time were initially designed to run 8-bit data: H.264, H.265/HEVC, VP9, VP10, and the list goes on. Even though updates to the respective standards have been made to increase the bit-depth, in practice it has remained relatively limited. For instance, the second version of HEVC (approved in 2014) introduced profiles to encode samples of 8 to 16-bits per sample, yet commercially available implementations of HEVC are still limited to a maximum of 12-bits per sample.

Originally, the reason given for delaying the implementation of the promised 16-bit profiles has been a lack of market demand. Today, however, this is no longer the case. In fact, commercially available cameras started exceeding the 12-bit threshold circa 2011, with manufacturers giving users the option to select up to 14-bit RAW formats. Now, 16-bit cameras are around the corner, such as this one rumored coming soon from Nikon.

The rise in popularity of thermal, multispectral and hyperspectral imaging systems in such various industries as life sciences, medical diagnostics, autonomous vehicles, food processing, mining, and forestry have largely contributed to the market demand for 16-bit compression. The vast majority of multispectral and hyperspectral cameras used in these applications capture data in 16-bit depth. According to one analysis, the hyperspectral imaging systems market size was estimated at USD 10 billion in 2019, growing at 10% annually.

At Compression.ai, we have developed commercially-available 16-bit image and video compression capability compatible with the H.265/HEVC standard, with both lossless and lossy implementations available. We are helping companies on the cutting edge of imaging compress data while preserving the information necessary for downstream applications. By compressing raw data by 25-90%, we are enabling our customers to capture more data and transmit from the field to data centers 1.5-10 times more rapidly.

Reach out here for a customized demo on how we can help your company with your compression and data management needs.

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