MSU Annual Video Codecs Comparison 2020:
Call for codecs

All industry professionals will know about your codec success!
in cooperation
Lomonosov MSU
Graphics & Media Lab
(Video Group)

Fifteen modern video codecs comparison
For real researchers, developers and professional users in field of high-end video compression

Dubna State University
Institute for Information
Transmission Problems, Russian Academy of Science

Important update on comparison use-cases

Due to many requests, in this year encoders will be compared in slightly different conditions. Constant quality encoding mode (CRF, QP) is preferable (but it's still possible to participate with VBR mode). Participants are to provide encoding presets which produce bitrates and encoding speed similar to reference (x265) encoder: instruction for choosing encoding presets (PDF)

Encoding use cases to be compared in 2020:

1. Main comparison (FullHD videos, objective quality metrics)

  • "Real-time encoding" - 30fps, constant quality mode
  • "Offline encoding" - 1fps, constant quality mode
2. Subjective comparison (FullHD videos, subjective quality)
  • "Real-time encoding" - 30fps, constant quality mode
  • "Offline encoding" - 1fps, constant quality mode
3. Comparison at 4K videos (4K(UHD)&HDR videos, objective quality metrics)
  • "Fast encoding" - 1fps, constant quality mode
  • "Universal encoding" - 20fps, constant quality mode

Important Dates

May, 14 April, 30 Application deadline

Participants are to provide codec name, name of encoding standard, developer's (company) name, and list of comparison parts in which they want to participate

May, 15 Deadline for settling technical problems with codec functioning
August, 3 Draft version of report that will be sent to all participants
August, 10 Reception of comments to the draft
August-September Main and Subjective reports release
November-December 4K report release

About Annual MSU Video Codecs Comparisons

MSU team has up to 21 years of experience in video codec analysis, testing and optimization. Some facts about previous MSU Video Codecs Comparisons:
  • There were more than 400.000 downloads of previous H.264/MPEG-4 AVC and H.265/HEVC video codec comparisons reports
  • Many codecs' bugs were found and reported to developers
  • 210+ encoders were tested
  • More than 35 private reports for codec developers (description of codec's weak and strong points) after public report versions

Page Outline

New features in MSU Video Codecs Comparison

Since 2020
  • Open voting for comparison videos selection (for participants and industry experts)
  • Automatic codecs submission system
  • Open to compare Lunix-based solutions
  • Open to compare cloud-based solutions
  • Enlarging of video collection
Since 2019
  • Increasing the number of test videos up to 100+, adding UGC (user-generated) videos (vlogs, noise videos, etc.) and HDR videos
  • Open to compare cloud-based solutions
  • Enlarging of video collection
  • Going to use new no-reference metrics
Since 2018
  • Increased target bitrates for comparison on 4K videos
  • Started to use VMAF objective metric
  • Upgraded testing hardware to Coffee Lake
  • Enlarged video collection (15833 videos)
Since 2017
  • Started to perform subjective comparisons with hundreds of observers
  • Started to compare AV1
  • Enlarged video collection (9299 videos)
Since 2016
  • New methodology of videos selection
  • New video collection (2909 videos)

Task of the Comparison

We perform comparative unbiased analysis for

  • software implementations
  • hardware (GPU-based) implementations
  • cloud-based implementations
of H.265/HEVC video coding standard and compare it to the best implementations of other video coding standards (H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, AV1, VP9, VP8, MPEG-4 and other) using objective metrics (SSIM, VMAF, PSNR and other).

With MSU Codecs Comparison developers can verify the performance of their codec. We share test sequences, encoding parameters and codecs versions so all developers can reproduce the results of the comparison. Participation with publishing of all results is for FREE.

Scope of Test

Summary report topics:
  • Objective measurements + Subjective analysis
  • Encoding time
  • Bitrate keeping for evaluating rate-control mechanism
  • Speed/Quality trade-off analysis
  • Averaged objective results analysis
  • Leaders in different use-cases
Comparison methodology main points:
  • 50-100 HD video sequences (main report) + 10-12 4K&HDR video sequences (report appendix).
    Number of videos may be increased and depends on the number of participating codecs
  • SSIM, PSNR, VMAF objective metrics & subjective evaluation
  • Bitstream analysis; profile, latency and other restrictions control
  • 3 color-planes (Y,U,V) and integral metric values
  • 2 use-cases for comparison on FullHD videos: Fast and Offline encoding (differ by encoding speed) + 2 use-cases for subjective comparison on FullHD videos + 2 special use-cases for comparison on 4K videos
  • 8-10 different target bitrates (1-12 Mbps for HD and 2-20 Mbps for 4K)
  • Prosumer-level modern hardware
  • Fully automatic testing system
  • 7000+ result figures, PDF and HTML reports

Comparison Rules and Methodology

Please pay attention that we will use multi-core CPU for encoding, so you can use multi-threading
  • Decoding is performed with reference decoder (for H.264/AVC and H.265/HEVC only). For other standards participants should provide decoder
  • We don't limit GOP size and intra-period
  • We don’t limit number of passes in the encoding. Total encoding time should fulfill use case speed requirements
  • Constant quality mode is used during all tests (other modes are discussed individually)
  • Before results publishing each developer will receive the results of its codec and competitive free open-source codecs. Developers of each codec can validate the results and write a comment (one paragraph) about the comparison results which will be included in the report
  • Participation is free with publication of the results
    • You can join comparison for free if you agree that your codec results will be published
    • Private participation. Compare your codec with world leaders staying incognito! If your company wants to know results of your codec's testing with possibility to exclude them from publication and information disclosure, you should pay for measurements and report preparing before comparison begins
  • Enterprise version of comparison report is available for direct participants for free
  • All participants will receive following deliverables to verify the results for free:
    • video sequences used in comparison
    • binaries of all free encoders used in comparison to verify the results
    • all raw video quality metric and encoding speed data for its encoder and for all of free encoders used in comparison
  • We are willing to completely or partially delete information about some codec in the public version of comparison report only in exceptional cases (e.g. critical errors in the codec)

Test Hardware Characteristics

The following hardware is used for codecs testing:
  • CPU: Intel Socket 1151 Core i7 8700K (Coffee Lake) (3.7Ghz, 6C12T, TDP 95W)
  • Mainboard: ASRock Z370M Pro4
  • RAM: Crucial CT16G4DFD824A 2x16GB (totally 32 GB) DIMM DDR4 2400MHz CL15
  • OS: Windows 10 x64 and Linux (Ubuntu)

Encoding speed requirements

For encoder alignment selected presets should provide following encoding speed.
All speed requirements are checked at video sequence encoded at 6Mbps:
    • For objective quality comparison:
      • Real-time – 1080p@30fps
      • Offline – 1080p@1fps and SSIM-RD curve better than x264-veryslow
    • For subjective quality comparison:
      • Real-time – 1080p@30fps
      • Offline – 1080p@1fps
    • For objective quality comparison on 4K(UHD)&HDR videos:
      • Fast – 20fps
      • Universal – 1fps

Codec Requirements

  • Presets for different speed requirements should be provided by the developers
  • Codec should allow to set arbitrary bitrate of resulting stream in constant quality mode
  • Preferable codec interface - console codec version (with batch processing support — bitrate and file names must be possible to assign from the command line)
  • Encoder should be compatible with reference decoder
  • Developers Deliverables

    The following deliverables should be provided by each developer:
  • Codec files (CLI executable file is preferable)
  • Codec's presets
  • Full comparison methodology

    Take part in 2020 Video Codecs Comparison!

    Deepest codecs review: 5 reports, including subjective with 1000+ viewers and 7000+ charts

    Applying for participating, you agree with comparison rules.

    Contact for participation.

    Please list the following:

    • use cases you want to participate in (Real-time, Offline, Real-time subjective, Offline Subjective, 4K Universal, 4K Fast)
    • codec name
    • standard
    • which codec version you want to submit (for Windows or for Linux)
    • company name
    • kind of participation (Free/public - we test your encoder and publish all results; or Private - you pay a participation fee, we test your encoder and send you the results, then you make the decision to publish results or not)

    What would you like to see in MSU Codecs Comparison reports?


    Special thanks to the following contributors of our previous comparisons

    Intel Huawei Tencent Google
    Telecast MainConcept Vitec NVidia
    Adobe AMD Netflix Dolby
    Qualcomm ATI Elgato ISPhone
    Voceweb Tata Elxsi dicas KDDI R&D labs

    Contact Information

    See all MSU Video Codecs Comparisons

    MSU video codecs comparisons resources:

    Other Materials

    Video resources:

    Last updated: 12-May-2022

    Server size: 8069 files, 1215Mb (Server statistics)

    Project updated by
    Server Team and MSU Video Group

    Project sponsored by YUVsoft Corp.

    Project supported by MSU Graphics & Media Lab