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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

1.5 MPEG-4 Schedule

After the initial study phase, in which the major MPEG-4 objectives were identified, notably through the functionalities presented earlier, the first MPEG-4 call for proposals was issued in July 1995 [N998] and answers were received by September/October 1995. The call for proposals asked for relevant video and audio technology addressing the eight MPEG-4 functionalities as described in the MPEG-4 Proposal Package Description [N998]. The technology received was evaluated using subjective tests for complete algorithms and expert panels for single tools [N999]. In the case of algorithms addressing the eight MPEG-4 functionalities, three functionalities (one for each of the three classes) were selected as representative—content-based scalability, improved compression efficiency, and robustness in error-prone environments—and formal subjective tests were conducted for those. For the other five functionalities, proposals were evaluated by expert panels (in the same manner as tools), and the corresponding selected tools were thoroughly examined using the CE procedure.

The video subjective tests were performed in November 1995 at Hughes Aircraft Company, in Los Angeles; the audio subjective tests were performed in December 1995 at CCETT, Mitsubishi, NTT, and Sony. The video expert panels evaluation was performed in October 1995 and January 1996.

At this initial phase, MPEG decided to develop the Systems specification by means of a pure collaborative approach and thus no calls were issued for Systems tools.

After the evaluation of the technology received [M532], choices were made and the collaborative phase started with the most promising tools. In the course of developing the standard, additional calls were issued when insufficient technology was available within MPEG to meet the requirements—for example, for synthetic and hybrid coding tools in July 1996 [N1315], for identification and protection of content in April 1997 [N1714], and for an intermedia file format in October 1997 [N1919]. This is a typical solution when MPEG is missing some technology and there are good indications that the technology exists outside MPEG. Moreover, in order to check that the standardized technology is still among the best available, MPEG may issue calls for proposals to compare the already standardized tools with the most recent developments outside MPEG. This was the case with the calls for proposals on audio [N3992] and video [N4065] coding tools in March 2001. The results of the video tests [N4454] following the video call for proposals led to the creation of the joint project with ITU-T SG 16 to develop MPEG-4 Part 10 [N4400].

At the MPEG January 1996 meeting in Munich, the first MPEG-4 Video Verification Model (VM) was defined [N1172]. In this VM, and for the first time in a standardization process, a video scene was represented as a composition of arbitrarily shaped objects; each object was represented by a sequence of Video Object Planes (VOPs), which are the temporal instantiations of a video object at a certain moment. For this, the first MPEG-4 Video VM used ITU-T H.263 coding tools [H263] together with shape coding tools, following the results of the November 1995 MPEG-4 video subjective tests [M532].

A process similar to the one used for video was followed for audio, although with some initial delay due to the involvement of many audio experts in the advanced audio coding (AAC) MPEG-2 work [N1214].

Following this initial phase, the several MPEG-4 VMs evolved using the CE process. A new version of each of the MPEG-4 VMs has been issued at each MPEG meeting—for example, the Video VM was in its 18th version at the Pisa meeting in January 2001 [3908].

As highlighted in the previous section, the last step of the MPEG process is the verification of the technology in the standard aiming at testing the performance of the tools and demonstrating their potentialities. For MPEG-4, the verification step was performed through a set of verification tests addressing various parts of the standard. Many verification tests have already been performed for video and audio tools and profiles (see Chapters 15 and 16 on testing for validation).

For MPEG-4, the process highlighted in the previous sections translated to the time schedule presented in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2 MPEG-4 time schedule13

Date

Event

July 1995 (Tokyo)

Call for proposals on audio and video tools and algorithms [N998]

Final version of the MPEG-4 evaluation document [N999]

November 1995

Subjective evaluation of video proposals

December 1995

Subjective evaluation of audio proposals

January 1996 (Munich)

Experts evaluation of video proposals

First version of the MPEG-4 Video VM [N1172]

March 1996 (Florence)

First version of the MPEG-4 Audio VM [N1214]

July 1996 (Tampere)

Call for proposals on SNHC tools [N1315]

September 1996 (Chicago)

First version of the MPEG-4 SNHC VM [N1364]

Call for proposals on synthetic audio [N1397]

November 1996 (Macei )

WD, Parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6

Call for proposals on audio and video tools and algorithms [N1499]

April 1997 (Bristol)

Call for proposals on identification and protection of content in MPEG-4 [N1714]

October 1997 (Fribourg)

Call for proposals for an MPEG-4 intermedia format [N1919]

CD, Parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6

WD, Part 4

March 1998 (Tokyo)

FCD, Parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6

October 1998 (Atlantic City)

FDIS, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 6

December 1998 (Rome)

CD, Part 4

March 1999 (Seoul)

Version 2, PDAM status, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 6

July 1999 (Vancouver)

Version 2, FPDAM status, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 6

FCD, Part 4

FDIS, Part 5

Version 2, PDAM status, Part 5

October 1999 (Melbourne)

COR 1, DCOR status, Parts 1, 2, and 6

December 1999 (Maui)

Call for proposals for an MPEG-4 textual format [N3157]

Version 2, FDAM status, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 6

Amendment 1 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 1

December 1999 (Maui) (cont)

FDIS, Part 4

Version 2, PDAM status, Part 4

March 2000 (Noordwijkerhout)

Call for proposals for a generic animation framework of synthetic objects [N3341]

COR 1, COR status, Parts 1, 2, and 6

Amendment 1 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 2

Amendment 2 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 2

Version 2, FPDAM status, Part 5

May 2000 (Geneva)

Amendment 1 to second edition, FPDAM status, Part 1

July 2000 (Beijing)

Call for proposals for IPMP solutions [N3543]

Call for proposals on multiusers worlds technology [N3574]

Amendment 1 to second edition, FPDAM status, Part 2

Amendment 2 to second edition, FPDAM status, Part 2

COR 2, DCOR status, Part 2

COR 1, DCOR status, Part 3

Version 2, FPDAM status, Part 4

Version 2, FDAM status, Part 5

COR 1, DCOR status, Part 5

October 2000 (La Baule)

Call for proposals for new tools to further improve video coding efficiency [N3671]

WG11 approval of second edition, Part 1

Amendment 1 to second edition, FDAM status, Part 1

Amendment 2 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 1

COR 1, DCOR status, Part 1 (second edition)

COR 2, COR status, Part 2

WG11 approval of second edition, Part 6

January 2001 (Pisa)

Amendment 1 to second edition, FDAM status, Part 2

Amendment 2 to second edition, FDAM status, Part 2

COR 1, COR status, Part 3

Version 2, FDAM status, Part 4

COR 1, COR status, Part 5

March 2001 (Singapore)

Call for proposals for new tools for audio coding [N3992]

Call for proposals for new tools for video compression technology [N4065]

Call for proposals for interpolator compression [N4098]

WG11 approval of second edition, Part 3

WG11 approval of second edition, Part 4

Amendment 1 to second edition, PDAM, Part 4

WG11 approval of second edition, Part 5

March 2001 (Singapore) (cont)

Amendment 1 to second edition, PDAM, Part 5

CD, Part 8

July 2001 (Sydney)

Call for proposals for hardware reference code [N4218]

Amendment 2 to second edition, FPDAM status, Part 1

Amendment 3 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 1

COR 1, COR status, Part 1 (second edition)

WG11 Approval of Edition, Part 2

Amendment 1 to second edition, FPDAM, Part 5

Amendment 2 to second edition, PDAM, Part 5

PDTR, Part 7

FCD, Part 8

December 2001 (Pattaya)

Amendment 4 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 1

Amendment 5 to second edition, PDAM status, Part 1

COR 2, DCOR status, Part 1 (second edition)

Amendment 3 to second edition, PDAM, Part 2

COR 1, DCOR status, Part 3 (second edition)

Amendment 1 to second edition, FPDAM, Part 4

COR 1, DCOR status, Part 4 (second edition)

Amendment 2 to second edition, FPDAM, Part 5

DTR, Part 7

FDIS, Part 8


Looking at Table 1.2, it is possible to conclude that the development of Version 1 of the MPEG-4 standard took about four and a half years between issuing the first call for proposals and the publication of the IS (Version 1). Although MPEG is generally considered as a body adopting challenging workplans, notably by its members, it is worthwhile to reflect about the time it takes to develop a standard, and thus on its chances of success against proprietary solutions in such a quickly moving technical landscape, if at least four years is the time a fast standardization body needs to make a standard available to the industry. This is not to speak about the undefined additional time the companies owning the essential patents will take to set the licensing procedure so that industry can start selling products based on that standard.

MPEG-4 was developed by hundreds of experts from many companies and universities around the world who believe that MPEG-4 technology can power the next generation of multimedia products and services. MPEG-4 Version 1 reached FDIS status at the end of 1998 and thus was technically finished by that time. The following amendments increased the capabilities of the standard in a backward-compatible way and are being developed as the industry needs emerge.

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