This site exists to fulfil a frequently heard reqest: To be able to compare the performance of codecs, consistently, openly, and usefully.

What’s Wrong with Measurements?

Most measurements of codecs occur in some specific context. Very often that context is set by constraints that appear artificial or unrealistic in the context where codecs are really used: In the real world - and most especially, on the Internet, in the delivery of video based services.

This site aims to generate video quality metrics under multiple scenarios, all of which bear some relation to Real Life. We don’t expect to be able to mirror real life perfectly - that would probably make it impossible to produce reproducible results, another goal, but we aim to find ways to score the performance of codecs in such a way that if two codecs differ significantly in score under a given scenario, the one that scores best is also likely to work best in practice in real life scenarios that resemble that scenario.

Why Openness?

This site aims to be open in three very important ways:

Testing a Whole Codec vs. Testing the Encoding in Isolation

Testing codecs has very often been an acrimonious matter, because some parties wish to test just a specific component of the encoding process, while others feel that ignoring properties that matter in real life situations is making comparisons unfair and unreasonable.

One simile (props to FIXME from Ericsson for this): “If you want to test the performance of an engine, you don’t want to put it in a car - you isolate it on a measurement bench to remove the variability from your measurements”. True as far as it goes - but conversely, if you are comparing cars, removing their engines and testing them in isolation gives no information about their handling characteristics on the road; for that, brakes, steering and transmission all matter.

We have chosen to test codecs in, as far as possible, the way they will be used. This means that we test real implementations, that people use in production, and test them including all tools that matter, including rate control, filters, preprocessing, postprocessing and so on - if it improves the performance, and it’s clearly identified (and available in opensource), let it be used!

Scenarios We Aim to Cover

The scenarios we aim to cover in the initial set are the following:

Other scenarios may be added once a consensus emerges on what they should be, and once the tools are available for measuring the metrics that are important in those scenarios.

Issues This Site Does Not Cover

All that this site is concerned with is that it produces reproducible results. It is absolutely unconcerned with many details that matter for real deployments, such as commercial licenses, patent restrictions, flexibility of software, tunability for special scenarios and so on.

These issues can only be evaluated in the context of a specific usage scenario and business model; it is not possible for a project like this to give useful guidance in those matters.