Video Formats Is There a Best Video File Format? 10 Top Video Formats 5 Ways to Change Videos to Any Format Lossless Video Format: 7 Popular Formats and How to Choose All You Need To Know About MP4 To MOV Conversion Choosing Your Codec: AVC (H.264) vs. HEVC (H.265) Decoding the Future: x264 vs. x265 Mastering HEVC: The Future-Ready Video Compression Standard Pixel Perfect: H.264 VS H.265 Explained FFmpeg: Features, Use Cases, and Pros/Cons You Should Know VP9 vs. H.264 What Are Container File Formats (Media Containers)? VP8 vs. VP9: 8 Key Differences and How to Choose What Is the M4A Format? | M4A vs. MP3 vs. WAV What Is MPEG-DASH? And MPEG-DASH vs. HLS What Are Video Subtitles? Common Formats and Best Practices H.264 Video Encoding: How It Works, Benefits, and 9 Best Practices QuickTime File Format (MOV): Apple’s MPEG-4 Predecessor MP4 Format (MPEG-4 Part 14): How It Works, Pros and Cons MKV Format: How It Works and How It Compares to MP4 AVI Format: Should You Still Use AVI? Windows Media Video (WMV) Format: What You Should Know HD Format: History of HD Video and 8 Formats You Should Know M4V Format: How It Works and MP4 vs. MPV FLV Format: Security Concerns and 5 Reasons to Switch to MP4 Top Six Web-Video Formats of 2024 What Is Video Transcoding? Video Frame Rates Explained Along With Tips for Picking the Right FPS A Primer on Video Codecs Open-Source and Royalty-Free AV1 Compresses Video Efficiently and Effectively Convert Video Formats: Six Essential Features of Video-Conversion Tools OGG Format: An In-Depth Look WebM Format: Basic Facts, Compatibility, and WebM vs. MP4

Open-Source and Royalty-Free AV1 Compresses Video Efficiently and Effectively

open source royalty free av1

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many would a video merit?

The past years have seen a massive growth in creation and consumption of video, simultaneously forging content promotion on media networks like YouTube, Vimeo, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Given that growth, have you considered how video could spruce up your marketing strategy? Not surprisingly, Google favors video, and with YouTube being the second largest search engine after Google, it’s all too obvious why video is instrumental in raising SEO ranking.

However, hosting videos on social networks incurs a load of associated costs. That’s why the AV1 technology has come into play to reduce the streaming bandwidth required for end-users worldwide.

What is the AV1 Codec?

AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is a royalty-free video coding format specifically designed for internet video transmission. It stands as a successor to VP9, aiming to substantially reduce a video’s bitrate while preserving quality. AV1 can provide 30% bandwidth savings compared to its predecessors, like VP9 and HEVC. This efficiency is particularly beneficial in enhancing visual quality at equivalent bitrates, making AV1 a top choice for many content creators and video professionals.

This article chronicles how to compress media files, especially videos, and then optimally deliver them without losing quality.

This is part of a series of articles about video format.

The History of AV1 Codec

The AV1 codec was developed by the Alliance for Open Media, formed by several major tech companies including Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix. The creation of the AV1 codec was motivated by the high cost and uncertainty associated with the patent licensing of HEVC, a codec designed to succeed AVC. The alliance aimed to deliver high-quality web video and announced the AV1 codec on September 1st 2015.

The AV1 project incorporated components from previous research efforts by Alliance members, such as Xiph’s/Mozilla’s Daala, Google’s VP10, and Cisco’s Thor. The first version of the AV1 reference codec was published in April 2016, and the bitstream specification was released in March of 2018. 

The AV1 codec faced several challenges in computational efficiency and speed, with the early version being significantly slower than existing HEVC encoders. However, by March 2019, the speed of the reference encoder had greatly improved. As of January 21, 2021, the MIME type of AV1 was defined as video/AV1.

What Are Codecs And Why Are They Necessary?

As software that compresses and decompresses videos, photos, and audio in and out of various formats, codecs contain two components:

  • An encoder for compressing files
  • A decoder for decompressing files

AV1’s advanced capabilities make it ideal for real-time applications and higher resolutions, including wide color gamuts, higher frame rates, and UHD. Moreover, its potential in streaming HDR 4K video with wide color gamuts is particularly notable.

You should compress videos with a codec before delivering them to users’ devices. Absent codecs, streaming services might never have been possible. For example, not compressing a 4K movie with a codec would mean having to store and stream it in its uncompressed state, which could be a 5-TB file.

Codecs are essential throughout the streaming lifecycle, from shooting and editing to storing and encoding for delivery. In fact, streaming media would be impossible without codecs—at least not for the modern mobile devices. Companies would then have to host and manage larger files; data providers would need to transfer much more data; and end-users must store substantially more material—even if only temporarily.

Many codecs are in use today. Some are free; others (e.g., AVC, aka H.264) require license fees. Here are the popular ones:

  • PKZIP: for data
  • JPEG, GIF, and PNG: for still images
  • MP3 and AAC: for audio
  • Cinepak, MPEG-2, H.264, and VP8: for video

How Do Media Codecs Work?

Encoding means compressing files for efficient editing, storage, and sharing. Decoding enables end-users to open and access content with a suitable application or player, such as VLC media player. For interoperability, encoders and decoders must share a standard format, such as AV1.

AV1 videos can be easily played on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. They can be played by dragging and dropping the AV1 video onto a Chrome tab, using VLC media player, or through YouTube on a desktop, provided you are using a compatible browser.


What Are the Metrics of Video Codecs?

Two critical metrics apply to video codecs: bitrate and quality.

According to Android Authority, the higher the bitrate, the larger the encoded files and hence the greater the amount of data end-users must stream. As the bitrate changes, so does the quality, i.e., less data leads to lower fidelity and less accuracy of the source material.

What Is AV1 And What Are Its Characteristics?

Comparable to other video-streaming technologies with patents that cost a hefty fee to use, AV1 is an open-source and royalty-free video codec developed by the nonprofit Alliance for Open Media, which promotes media codecs, formats, and technologies for the web. Because it’s free, AV1 might be the future for streaming platforms like Netflix, Google, etc.

However, it is important to note that AV1 requires more computational resources for encoding and decoding compared to some other codecs, which might be a consideration for certain applications.

Also, AV1 operates on the server side and works better at a lower bitrate. Regardless of the type of Android device, AV1 saves data with up to 20% efficiency, transmitting high-quality video online even where bandwidth is constrained.

What Are the Other Common Video-Streaming Technologies?

Below are three other common video-streaming technologies, all of which are laden with royalty claims and patents:

  • Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG-2): for DVDs, satellite TV, digital broadcast TV, etc.
  • AVC, also called H.264: for Blu-ray discs and many internet-streaming services.
  • HEVC, also called H.265: for 8K TV.

How About a Few Further References?

For more details on AV1, visit the AOMediaCodec Community wiki. In addition, read these articles:

Last updated: Apr 25, 2024