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By Kayla Collins - Last Updated: Contact Author

AV1 vs HEVC: Should You Abandon HEVC Now?

For content distributors, the efficiency and cost of codes is essential to video editing. H.264 has been around for fifteen years. H.265/HEVC is still in the process of replacing H.264/AVC, yet the war of codec between AV1 and HEVC is already waged on.

1. What is AV1

AV1 video format (AOMedia Video 1) is an open, royalty-free video encoding format of the next generation. Developed by AOM (Alliance of Open Media Video), it is designed to be a successor of Google's VP9 and a competitor of H.265/HEVC. AV1 aims to improve coding efficiency by 30% on the basis of VP9/HEVC. Below are main features of AV1:

  1. Interoperable and open source.
  2. Optimized for the Internet.
  3. Suitable for hardware with low computing power.
  4. Adaptable to any bandwidth, able to be extended to any modern devices.
  5. Consistent, able to make real-time video transmission with the highest quality.
  6. Completely free, flexible commercial and non-commercial content, including contents generated by users.
Cannot Playback AV1 Videos? Here's How VideoProc Can Help You:
  • • Built-in AV1 Grabber – Save Online AV1 videos to your local drive;
  • • Convert AV1 to MP4, VP9, HEVC and other popular formats;
  • • Native support to edit AV1 videos – even on an old computer;
  • • Transcode AV1 to Apple-friendly format – Playback on Apple TV, iPhone, iPad.

Jump to part 3 for a step-by-step tutorial to convert or edit AV1 videos.

Free Download VideoProc to Convert AV1 Videos:

2. AV1 vs. HEVC/H.265

1. Patent Licensing

AV1 is completely free, whether you are using it for commercial and non-commercial purposes. All members of AOM support AV1, an open-source, free ecosystem.

While for H.265, now it has a relatively high patent threshold. Four patent pools are related to it, they are, HEVC Advance, MPEG LA, Velos Media, and Technicolor in respective.

2. Hardware Requirements

Applying more advanced algorithms than HEVC, AV1 codes have higher requirements on the hardware. In other words, a processing chip with superior encoding performance is needed.

3. Compatibility

Theoretically, AV1 adapts the network better. It is designed as a video coding standard mainly created for the Internet and to be used in more network terminals. Though Apple's HEVC was announced in July 2017 to support HTTP Live Streaming, Apple itself has joined AMO's AV1 in 2018. Besides, royalty free patents entails a wide spread and evolution of the codec, since it involves more companies in play, customers would worry less about compatibilities issues.

However, in its initial stage, AV1 software decoders released by major browsers at this time are much slower and inefficient. For the time being, HEVC is more widely used with hardware support from Nvidia, Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, etc.

4. Container Format

At the time of writing, AV1 rolling out on YouTube test lists are using ISO Base Media File Format. Besides, WebM will probably be another choice for AV1, though the containerization was yet specified. Once standardized, AV1 would be widely compatible, as WebM format were developed by Microsoft, Google, Mozilla and Opera in a spirit of open design. Besides, AV1 also has Facebook, Google, Netflix and Amazon on its boat.

5. Compression Efficiency: AV1 vs. HEVC vs. VP9

We have made comparisons among the reference implementations using these coding standards. The reference implementation using AV1 is Libaom, while Libvpx for VP9, and x265 for HEVC. The test environment is AWCY, a public test set that contains more than 30 test video files from 360p to 1080p fixed to QP 60 frames. Under such test environment, the conclusion is: Libaom has about 30% increase in compress efficiency over Libvpx, and 27% increase over x265.

3. Best AV1 Converter: Native Support to Download/Edit/Convert AV1 Videos

AOM's AV1 is still fighting its way to compatibility, as an emerging codec, especially on the consumer side. Even if you have capable player to binge watch AV1 videos, your other devices might reject it, let alone sharing it to friends and families.

Before it becomes more widely supported, you might wonder how to edit AV1 encoded videos, or convert it to MP4, MOV and other mainstream format. Here is a quick tutorial to handle this format, and the tool used is VideoProc, a dedicated video transcoding and editing tool.

AV1 Converter
Convert and Edit AV1 Footage

To convert AV1 to MP4/MOV and other format:

  1. Click Video from the home screen, drag and drop video you want to convert.
  2. Select a target format from the bottom. H264/MP4 is recommended for best compatibility. You can also use MOV, HEVC/H265, WMV, etc.
  3. Click Run to start the conversion. You can enable hardware acceleration to speed up the process.

To edit an AV1 video:

  1. Go to Video section from main screen and add your footage.
  2. Select an output format, and the editing bar is activated. You can trim cut, crop, rotate videos flexibly. You can find more editing options in Toolbox.
  3. Once you are happy with the result, you can hit Run to export edited video clips.
Free Download VideoProc to Convert and Edit AV1 Videos:

4. Does YouTube Support AV1?

Though the most recommend upload video format for YouTube is still MP4, this video sharing giant has already established an AV1 Launch Playlist in 2018. You can check the codecs for a YouTube video by right click on the player > Stats for nerds, and look at the Codecs sections. If you see av01 something, that's AV1.

Check YouTube Video Codecs
Check YouTube Video Codecs

If you saw VP9 or other format in the AV1 Playlist, go to TestTube and switch from Auto to Always Prefer AV1.

AV1 Videos on YouTube TestTube
AV1 Videos on YouTube TestTube

Just like HEVC is an efficient replacement for AVC, AV1 takes a step forward and promises even higher compression without significant quality loss. YouTube's tagline for AV1 on TestTube echoes the benefit: more video for less data.

However, the incompatibility issue might be the deal breaker currently. For instance, when you playback YouTube videos offline, you might find some videos have no sound, while the original one does have audio stream. This is happening because that specific footage might be encoded with AV1, and your current tool cannot handling that codec properly, thus the no sound error.

Final Words

Though there are still works to be done before AV1 goes widely applied, but the next generation of video entertainment is on the way to change our digital life dramatically.

Grab VideoProc to Convert AV1 Videos:


Kayla Collins

Kayla Collins, a senior member of Digiarty software for 5 years, knows a thing or two about digital devices & video processing software like GoPro, DSLR camera, Drone, iPhone iPad, iMac, iMovie, etc. and is glad to share her knowledge to help people out of trouble. She's also deeply passionate about yoga, jogging, roller-skating, handcraft, reading, music, movie and more.

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