Dicas claims new algorithm boosts H.264 quality by 30%

Dicas produces the H.264 codec used by Telestream in most (if not all) of their encoding products, including Episode Pro and Episode Engine. On June 11, 2009, Dicas announced a new quality enhancing algorithm called dicasVICO that the company claims will deliver equivalent quality to today’s streams at a 30% lower bit rate.

Here’s the technical explanation:

“Most H.264 encoders use variance algorithms to modulate the quantiser”, explains Klaas Schüür, co-founder and CTO at dicas. “Although you may get great measuring results by applying complex operations based on rate distortion, this does not reflect the latest state of scientific knowledge on the visual perception of man.”

dicasVICO, on the contrary, takes advantage of the gradual fault tolerance of the human visual system against varying optical phenomena. For example the human brain hardly notices errors occurring in high-frequency sections, i.e. fast movements or fine-textured patterns, whereas it is very attentive towards errors within regular structures or slow-motion sections.

In my December, 2008 quality tests, Dicas had pretty much caught up with MainConcept, who supplies H.264 codecs to Adobe, Rhozet, Sorenson and many other vendors. However, when I tested new versions of Squeeze and Carbon Coder in May 2009 with the latest MainConcept codec,  MainConcept had again pulled away. If Dicas’ claims of 30% improvement come anywhere close to being true (not that I’m a skeptic or anything), they should more than make up the difference.

I’ve asked Dicas for access to the new codec, and hope to be able to test by the end of July. Stay tuned.

About Jan Ozer

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I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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