V-Nova’s new video compression software, PERSEUS, a game-changing codec
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V-Nova’s new video compression software, PERSEUS, a game-changing codec

A new compression codec has emerged, the product of a company called V-Nova which has operated in ‘stealth mode’ since 2011 and launched officially at the beginning of April 2015.

V-Nova claims that its new video compression software PERSEUS delivers HD quality video in SD bit rates, and suggests that this is truly disruptive technology, partly because it will work on existing infrastructure.

Industry analyst John Moulding, meanwhile, suggests “that V-Nova has just detonated a small bomb”.

There are undoubtedly high levels of interest surrounding this new technology, and we here at Frame 25 are excited to know more so decided to take a closer look at it – and the company behind it.

But first:

What is “video codec” / video compression software?

The term ‘codec’ is simply short for compressor/decompressor and is technology for compressing (encoding) and decompressing (decoding) data.

Codecs can be implemented in software, hardware or both.

Compressed video files traditionally conforms to a standard compression format, such as mp4, but compression often results in degradation or loss (ie, the compressed video lacks the quality of the original).

Also, as Wikipedia explains:

“There are complex relationships between the video quality, the amount of data used to represent the video (determined by the bit rate), the complexity of the encoding and decoding algorithms, sensitivity to data losses and errors, ease of editing, random access, and end-to-end delay (latency).”

Who are V-Nova?

A London-based video compression solutions specialist providing advanced video and image processing hardware, software and embedded solutions.

They were founded by an experienced team of:

  • Business leaders
  • Video compression experts
  • Intellectual property experts
  • Technology finance veterans

The company’s technology team includes developers of the first generation codecs, including MPEG and JPEG.

Launching after four years of development – “We believe that tested, commercial-grade products trump presentation slides and empty claims” – V-Nova has released a number of products based on its PERSEUS technology.

As well as broadcast and media, other industries the technology serves include:

  • Telecommunications
  • Aerospace
  • Defence
  • Security
  • Video conferencing
  • Digital signage
  • Medical imaging
  • Telematics
  • Video games

The company is privately-held and independent, with operations in the US, Europe and Asia.

Its business model varies accordingly to customers and applications while V-Nova claims to have no competition, stating:

“PERSEUS is currently able to solve problems that have no other viable solutions.”

Anyone else involved?

Yes, V-Nova is part of a broad and growing consortium of over 20 global industry leaders, including:

  • Broadcom
  • European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
  • Encompass
  • Intel
  • Hitachi
  • Sky Italia
  • Wyplay

What makes PERSEUS so special?

This new method of data compression could see UHD/ 4K being streamed to TVs and other devices using around 50% of the bandwidth currently needed.

It provides seamless, adaptive streaming from a single encode as well as the ability to make continuous, frame-by-frame and “on the fly” bitrate changes.

HD video can be live-encoded below 500 kbit/s and without loss to the picture or viewing continuity.

But they’re not the only features that make this video compression software so impressive and revolutionary…

Backward compatibility

Upgrades of existing ecosystems can be done with a simple software update (e.g., over-the-air):

“V-Nova has also developed its own encoding solutions to give media companies a way to use the technology immediately. Platform operators would not need new set-top boxes to use the PERSEUS codec as it can be accommodated on reasonably modern STBs via an over-the-air software update. Sky Italia is already using the new codec for studio-to-studio contribution links and V-Nova says we should expect customers for distribution (headend to home) scenarios as well.” (source: v-net.tv)

Efficiency and performance

This video compression software’s performance shifts the entire video bitrate-quality curve, offering UHD quality at HD bitrates, HD at SD bitrates, and SD video at audio bitrates.

It’s more than three times more efficient than other compression platforms, more than five times more efficient with broadcast transmissions and more than six times more efficient than other compression systems with on-demand.

The PERSEUS codec operates across all bit rates and quality levels (both lossless and lossy) but the efficiency benefits increase with higher resolution and higher frame rates.

Inspired by nature

V-Nova describes PERSEUS as “an advanced signal processing technology based on the principles underlying human vision”.

Available formats

The company currently offers its product in the form of appliances, embedded software and codec plug-ins.

It is easily integrated into existing systems and uses industry-standard interfaces and APIs.

What they say

Guido Meardi, CEO and Founder, V-Nova:

“PERSEUS makes 4K commercially viable at scale, enables HD over 3G/4G mobile networks and makes the video available to millions who do not yet have it. Most importantly, PERSEUS achieves this within currently available bandwidth and infrastructure.

“This guarantees rapid, seamless deployment and an extremely high return on investment.”

Massimo Bertolotti, Head of Innovation & Engineering, Sky Italia:

“PERSEUS helps us solve challenges and create opportunities not currently addressable by existing compression solutions. Sky Italia has been working with V-Nova over the past years to refine and test the PERSEUS technology to ensure that it is industrially scalable and integrates seamlessly into the existing ecosystem and workflows. We are currently deploying it and are extremely satisfied with the results of this joint effort. PERSEUS is an extremely valuable asset for us.”

Puiu Dolea, Manager of Business Continuity & Special Projects at EBU:

“EBU has always played a key role in identifying innovations that are beneficial to our associates and we have followed the development of PERSEUS products since its early stages. The step-change in performance offered by PERSEUS opens many opportunities for new high-impact broadcast services that we are contributing to develop.”

Yigs Riza, CTO, Tata Sky:

“As the leader in one of the most important emerging markets, Tata Sky is constantly innovating its offering and evaluating new video technologies. Based on what we have seen, PERSEUS has the potential to significantly increase customer reach and service quality.”

Eric Achtmann, Executive Chairman and co-Founder, V-Nova:

“Together, we are making ‘The Impossible’ possible, and ‘The Possible’ more profitable.”

Broadcast Industry recognition

Despite its infancy, PERSEUS was nominated in the Best Component or Enabler category by the prestigious TV Connect awards of 2015.

Further reading

You can read more about V-Nova and PERSEUS here or get in touch with us here at Frame 25 to ask how this new video compression software could impact upon your business – and how we can help