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h.265 becomes the default VR video codec. AV1 is coming soon

alex novak
Alex Novak

VR is leaning towards high-quality headsets such as the Quest 2, Valve Index and the eagerly-anticipated HP Reverb G2. With those devices, good quality VR videos look even better, while poor quality visuals look worse. All those headsets play the highest available resolution of up to 8K, which is almost not possible with h.264.

There are headsets limited to decoding 4K, such as the Oculus Go/Quest 1 and PSVR which will still be supported for a while. It's highly recommended that GearVR, Cardboard, iPhone, Daydream and PSVR users upgrade to a better VR headset.

h.265 / HEVC

  • 5K/6K/8K h.265 is the current standard supported by the Oculus Quest 2 (Snapdragon 865) and all the desktop headsets such as the Valve Index/HP Reverb G2 running Nvidia 10xx/20xx/30xx GPUs, which share the same capacity of up to 8192x4096@60fps video playback. Current VR production mostly uses the Zcam K2 Pro camera with 5400x2700@60FPS 180º equirectangular capabilities (often non-AI upscaled to "6K", "7K" and even "8K") or 5800x2900@60FPS 200º fish eye, also interpolated up to 90 or 120FPS (on the Valve Index) for a more stable image and smoother movements
  • 4K h.265 is the maximum supported by Oculus Go/Quest 1 and a number of phones running the Snapdragon 845 (Galaxy S9) and below. These files come at a lower filesize when compared to h.264 videos and in most cases deliver better quality footage.

h.264

  • 4K h.264 is a universal format supported by every modern headset. It's mostly a cardboard format which comes at a high filesize. If some phones like the iPhone 6 aren’t compatible it's time to upgrade. There is no VR content produced below 4K. We also have a special h.264 video format for PS4, PS4 Pro and iPhones. We plan to keep those for a while. 
  • 5K/6K/8K h.264 is supported by some powerful CPUs. It switches automatically if the GPU can't handle the video. The Oculus Go/Quest headsets can play 4800x2400@60FPS video only in the Oculus Gallery player. Both 5K/6K h.264 and 4.8K are going to be discontinued on SLR soon.

VP9

  • 5K/6K/8K videos are supported by the Oculus Browser on both the Quest 1 and Quest 2. We might encode video in this format for WebXR playback at https://www.sexlikereal.com/hub (enter sexlikereal.com in the Oculus Browser).

AV1

  • 5K/6K/8K AV1 codecs are now supported by Nvidia 30xx GPUs. With computationally demanding encoding it provides high-quality video at a low filesize. This seems to be the only viable option for 10-bit encoding given effective filesize in place once the HDR 10-bit headsets emerge. The only problem is that Qualcomm's Snapdragon is not planning to support it any time soon, meaning it won't be supported by future Quest headsets if they keep running on Snapdragon processors. 

You can take a look at AV1-encoded video here:

Source
Please let us know your thoughts.

We are also pressing chipset manufacturers to add 16K support in the future. We have already hit current decoding limitations as it isn’t possible for Nvidia and other GPUs to run 8K footage at 140FPS.

alex novak
Alex Novak
Born and raised in Southern California, Alex Novak has always had a passion for technology. Always interested in exploring new frontiers, the avid gamer and sci-fi reader found himself drawn to VR and its endless possibilities. Alex is excited to see what the future of VR brings and how he can help shape it.
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