Research & Development

What we're doing

We are using VC-2 in our work on production over IP networks where its low-latency and simplicity of implementation are particularly valuable. We have shared our RTP payload format as an IETF RFC.

We have developed encode and decode software and made it available open source. Both reference and optimised implementations are included.

VC-2 is specified in SMPTE ST 2042-1 and there are related standards and recommended practices in the 2047 series which describe coding parameters for particular applications and carriage of VC-2 compressed video over SDI. We have updated the main standard to support next generation video formats, to add new coding techniques and to remove some old and unused elements. We have also written a recommended practice, RP 2047-5 (amended), to cover compression of UHDTV video to the same bit rate as that of uncompressed HDTV signals so that existing infrastructure can be used for these signals.

BBC R&D Blog - VC-2: Video Compression for Production Environments

Why it matters

TV production is making increasing use of IP networks but the bit-rates needed for uncompressed video, particularly for UHD, can easily exceed the capacity of available links. A relatively mild level of compression (referred to as “mezzanine”) can maintain the picture quality needed for production while enabling much more efficient use of network capacity. The simplicity of implementation and the low latency of the VC-2 codec make it ideal for these applications. The fact that it is royalty-free is a further benefit for manufacturers and users.

How it works

VC-2 is a low-latency video codec that uses wavelet transforms and entropy coding. It can be readily implemented in hardware or software at very high bit rates. It is derived from a subset of the Dirac codec developed by BBC R&D in the early 2000s. A detailed description of the algorithms can be found in BBC R&D White Paper 238.


Several companies are using VC-2 in their products, serving the needs of broadcasters such as the BBC and providing greater choice in the marketplace.

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GitHub - Reference Encode and Decode Software to test VC-2 Implementations

BBC R&D - VC-2: Video Compression for Production Environments

BBC R&D - Dirac Video Compression

BBC R&D - IP Studio

BBC R&D - The Turing Codec

BBC R&D - 4k UHD Trial of Planet Earth II in HDR


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