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19 December 2018

How to use AV1 with open source tools

AV1 and muxing

If you follow this blog, you should know everything about AV1.

AV1 is a new video codec by the Alliance for Open Media, composed of most of the important Web companies (Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Mozilla...) and VideoLAN.

AV1 has the potential to be up to 20% better than the HEVC codec, but the patents' license is totally free, while HEVC patents licenses are insanely high and very confusing.

This is the first time, where the Open community is ahead of the MPEG community, notably because AV1 and Opus are both great codecs.

AV1 has mappings to wrap it inside MP4 or MKV. And other mappings are coming, notably for RTP or TS.

So, of course, the open source community has developed tools to support AV1. This post is about how to use those tools.

Tools

FFmpeg

For FFmpeg, integration with libaom was done for both encoding and decoding (and now also dav1d for decoding).

To encode, it is important to activate the --enable-libaom option at ./configure time.
You can get all the options for encoding by using ffmpeg -h encoder=libaom-av1.

simple encode

To encode any file that is played by ffmpeg, just use the -c:v libaom-av1 option:
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libaom-av1 -crf 30 -b:v 0 -strict experimental av1_test.mkv

This works, of course, for the mp4 and mkv output formats.

2-pass encode

For 2-pass encoding, use the usual commands, but with the -c:v libaom-av1:
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libaom-av1 -strict experimental -b:v 2M -pass 1 -an -f matroska /dev/null && ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libaom-av1 -strict experimental -b:v 2M -pass 2 -c:a libopus output.mkv

To know more about AV1 in FFmpeg, please use the help or the official documentation.

GPAC

For GPAC, the integration of libaom was done too, and it is quite simple.

For example, to add an av1 stream inside an MP4, just use MP4Box:
MP4Box -add file.av1 file_av1.mp4

And, you can even prepare those AV1/MP4 files for DASH streaming:
MP4Box -dash 1000 -profile onDemand file_av1.mp4

If you want more details, or try encrypting of those streams, please read the GPAC blog.

GStreamer

Gstreamer made several releases supporting the AV1 plugins.

To play an MP4 AV1 file, just use gst-play-1.0 av1.mp4.

To do a simple encode and mux it in MP4:
gst-launch-1.0 videotestsrc num-buffers=300 ! video/x-raw, framerate=30/1, width=320, height=240 ! av1enc ! mp4mux ! filesink location=av1file.mp4

Or, if you want to transmux from MKV to MP4, or vice-versa:
gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location=av1.mkv ! matroskademux ! mp4mux ! filesink location=av1.mp4 gst-launch-1.0 filesrc location=av1.mp4 ! qtdemux ! matroskamux ! filesink location=av1.mkv

Finally, to transcode to AV1 and mux in MP4:
gst-launch-1.0 uridecodebin uri=file:///home/toto/file.avi ! av1enc ! mp4mux ! location=video-av1.mp4

VLC

Of course, VLC has full decoding integration, with libaom, and with dav1d (starting in 3.0.5, in a few days). This will work on all platforms, starting with desktop releases first.

But VLC 4.0 also has full encoding and muxing, in both MP4 and MKV, in the nightly builds. To use, you can try this:
vlc file.avi --sout "#transcode{vcodec=av01}:std{access=file,mux=mkv,dst='output.mkv'}"

MediaInfo

It's quite important to mention that Mediainfo already supports AV1, since version 18.08.

You can use the GUI, or the CLI: mediainfo av1.mkv.

MKVToolnix

Last, but not least, MKVtoolnix, supports AV1 muxing, since v28.0.0.

Conclusion

Please try those tools, to create and play AV1/OPUS files everywhere.

Also, please report any bug you would find in those tools.

21 November 2018

dav1d: performance and completion of the first release

tl;dr: dav1d is in a very good shape

If you want a quick summary of this post:

  • dav1d now covers all the spec and features of AV1, for 8bits and 10bits depth,
  • dav1d is very fast, up to 400% faster (more fps) than the libaom decoder, and very often 100% faster.

Now is the right time to integrate it, in your products!

Read the following for more details...

A few reminders about dav1d

AV1 is a new video codec by the Alliance for Open Media, composed of most of the important Web companies (Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Mozilla...).

AV1 has the potential to be up to 20% better than the HEVC codec, but the patents license is totally free, while HEVC patents licenses are insanely high and very confusing.

The reference decoder for AV1 is great, but it's a research codebase, so it has a lot to improve.

Therefore, the VideoLAN, VLC and FFmpeg communities have started to work on a new decoder, sponsored by the Alliance of Open Media, in order to create the reference optimized decoder for AV1.

Features

We launched dav1d, exactly 2 months ago, during VDD.

We did a lot of work since. And by "we", I mean mostly the others. :)
There are now more than 500 commits from 29 contributors from different open source communities. This is a good result for a new open source project.

First, we've completed all the features, including Film Grain, Super-Res, Scaled References, and other more obscure features of the bitstream. This covers both 8 and 10bits, of course.
We also improved the public API.

Then, we've fuzzed the decoder a lot: we are now above 99% of functions covered, and 97% of lines covered on OSS-FUZZ; and we usually fix all the issues in a couple of days. This should assure you a secure decoding for AV1.

Finally, we've written a lot of assembly, mostly for modern desktop CPUs, but the work has been started for mobile and older desktop CPUs.
We even reduced the size of the C code!

Performance

Today, dav1d is very fast on AVX2 processors, which should cover a bit more than 50% of the CPUs used on the desktop. We wrote 95% of the code needed for AVX2, but there is still a bit more achievable.

We're readying the SSE and the ARM optimizations, to do the same. They will be very fast too, in the next weeks.

The following graphs are comparing dav1d and aomdec top-of-the-tree on master branches. (and yes, aomdec has CONFIG_LOWBITDEPTH=1).
This was done on Windows 10 64bits, using precompiled binaries.

The clips are taken from Netflix, Elecard, and Youtube, because they don't use the same parameters in the encoder, and don't have the same bitstream features.
Film Grain is not run on the CPU, so it is not visible here.

Haswell

Here, on Haswell (i7-4710, a 4 year old CPU with 4 cores), are the results:

And reported to in percentage compared to libaom:

We got in average 2.49x, and we even get 3.48x on the Youtube Summer clip!

Zen

With a more modern Zen machine (Ryzen 5 1600, 6 cores HT), here are the results:

And reported to in percentage compared to libaom:

The average is even higher at 3.49x, and we even get 5.27x on the Youtube Summer clip!

Global comparison

If we put both on the same graphs, here is what we have:

Threading

If you listened to our talks during VDD or during demuxed, we explained that dav1d threading was quite innovative, and should scale way better than libaom.

On an even less powerful machine, an i5-4590, with 4 cores/4 threads, here are our results, for the Youtube Summer clip:

You see that dav1d can scale better, in terms of threading, than libaom.

Conclusion

dav1d is very fast, dav1d is almost complete, dav1d is cool.

We're finishing the rough edges for a release soon, so that we can hope that Firefox 65 will ship with dav1d for AV1 decoding.

On the other platforms, SSE and ARM assembly will follow very quickly, and we're already as fast on ARMv8. Stay tuned for more!

I would like to thank Ewout ter Hoeven (EwoutH) from the community who did all the testing, numbers and computations.