If consumers had been content with horse and buggy factories simply rolling out better horse and buggies every year we’d still have dirt roads instead of highways and barns instead of garages. Meaningful technological advancements demand revolutionary leaps in innovation – such as the invention of the internal combustion engine that powered the development of automobiles – to get the technology to the next stage of development. In 2016, an exponential advancement in compression codec technology is needed to stream and broadcast the plethora of 4K content sources now available. If accomplished, the world will experience a quantum leap in video streaming capabilties that will change the world in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Video Codec Compression Explained

One of the horse and buggies of the tech world is the compression codec, which nearly all content delivery networks use to deliver content. The word ‘codec’ is derived from the term ‘compressor-decompressor’; the file compression process reduces large movie files to smaller packages so they can be sent over the Internet and then unpacks them for viewing. In the process, compression artifacts tend to reduce the quality of the viewing experience.

Since video quality is historically linked to file size the process gets more difficult as video resolution and quality improve year after year. The latest resolution files – 4K and 5K – are huge. For instance, a single frame of 4K content requires 8.2 million pixels (2.1 million pixels for HD), while the average 4K movie file is about 100GB (12GB for HD). Most content delivery networks, such as Netflix, recommend that before you even consider streaming 4K content you have a minimum of at least 20-25 Mbps of broadband bandwidth. However, the average broadband bandwidth in the United States is only about 11 Mbps (1-3 Mbps during peak hours). That means that in many areas of the country people experience a common problem called buffering, which is also know as the ‘spinning wheel of death.’ Buffering happens when your computer is unable to prevent lag caused by less bandwidth or other performance problems. Removing some of the data with compression helps lessen the bandwidth lag issue but also compromises quality.

Industry Standard and Open Source Options

The two main compression formats are the industry standard H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) codecs and a variety of similar open source options, such as Google’s VP9 and VP10, that rely on similar compression techniques. Mainstream broadcasters tend to use H.264 and H.265, which were created by the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG).

As you can see from the example below, the H.264 codec captures more information but it consumes more network bandwidth. Meanwhile, H.265 captures less image information and occupies less network bandwidth. Both rely on compression techniques that deliver a smaller file that compromises quality.


There is a solution that can make the file smaller without reducing quality. In fact, it can make the image look better than the image from the original quality file. Some media industry executives believed it was impossible – until they saw it working.

The Best Video File Format for 4K and Higher Content

The solution is illumin8, which represents a revolutionary technological advancement over the traditional compression codecs and can convert HD content to 4K in real time.

illumin8’s algorithms leverage adaptive technology that upsamples, color corrects, de-noises and transforms video in real time. One of the differences between the existing video compression formats and illumin8 is that illumin8 doesn’t stretch or add pixels; illumin8 uses adanced edge-detection technology to identify and preserve object details within a video to be transferred and displayed at the greatest level of quality that the display device supports.

Sound impossible? Learn more about illumin8.