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1.1. MPEG-4 Objectives

Although MPEG discussions about projects beyond MPEG-2 began as early as May 1991, at the Paris MPEG meeting, it was not until September 1993 that the MPEG Applications and Operational Environments (AOE) subgroup was set up and met for the first time. The main task of this subgroup was to identify the applications and requirements relevant to the far-term, very low bit-rate coding solution to be developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/MPEG as stated in the initial MPEG-4 project description [N271]. At the same time, the near-term hybrid coding solution being developed within the International Telecommunications Union-Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Low Bit-rate Coding (LBC) group started producing the first results (later, the ITU-T H.263 standard [H263]). It was then generally felt that those results were close to the best performance that could be obtained by block-based, hybrid, DCT/motion-compensation video coding schemes.

In July 1994, the Grimstadt MPEG meeting marked a major change in the direction of MPEG-4. Until that meeting, the main goal of MPEG-4 was to obtain a significantly better compression ratio than could be achieved by conventional coding techniques. Few people, however, believed it was possible, in the next five years, to make enough improvements over the LBC standard (H.263 and H.263+) to justify a new standard.[2] So the AOE subgroup was faced with the need to broaden the objectives of MPEG-4, believing that pure compression gains would not be enough to start a new MPEG standardization project. The subgroup then began an in-depth analysis of the audiovisual world trends, based on the convergence of the TV/film/entertainment, computing, and telecommunications worlds. The conclusion was that the emerging MPEG-4 coding standard should support new ways (notably content-based) of communicating, accessing, and manipulating digital audiovisual data.

[2] At least under the acceptable complexity boundaries.


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