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November 8, 2021

IntoPIX Highlights TICO-RAW and JPEG-XS Advancements (Part 1)

IntoPIX organized an online event in October to present their latest codec advancements and their impact on 8K workflows. In particular, JPEG-XS is a wavelet-based codec suitable for 8K production workflows, while TICO-RAW can significantly reduce the RAW data bitrate needed for high-resolution camera sensors. In Part 1 coverage of the event, we will provide some background on intoPIX and discuss their new enhancements to the TICO-RAW codec. In Part 2, we will provide more details on JPEG-XS adoption.

To provide some additional color to the information presented in the webinar, we spoke with Jean-Baptiste Lorent, intoPIX’s Chief Sales, and Marketing Officer. Lorent joined the company in 2007, a year after its founding in Belgium, initially as a 4K digital cinema vendor supplying projectors and dedicated servers for theatres. The company diversified into broadcast and other adjacent markets, including CE, licensing codecs for cameras and TVs. IntoPIX now has 30 employees.

With their relationships with Japanese players, intoPIX started working on 8K in 2010, with some early R&D with NHK.

Jan-Baptiste explained the company’s current four-fold focus:

  1. Simplify connectivity
  2. Manage more pixels
  3. Preserve Quality
  4. Avoid Latency

Despite improvement in all parts of production workflow, transport of uncompressed 8K remains challenging. Using existing compression techniques available for contribution or distribution is inappropriate, partly because of their complexity and the required processing power, hence the need for something simpler.

IntoPIX’s first commercial product used the JPEG2000 codec for 8K, but even that required too much processing power. As a result, intoPIX contributed R&D into JPEG-XS standardization for use as a low-complexity, lossless mezzanine codec. TICO stands for tiny codec, so as a writer, I would have used TiCo, but hey, that’s IntoPIX’s decision.

Source intoPIX

TICO-RAW is a lightweight compression technology that is particularly appropriate for cameras where raw data was getting too large for many workflows. Indeed, a 10-bit 8K uncompressed RAW camera feed at 60 fps is around 22 Gbps. That confused me as I had the ballpark figure of 40 Gbps for RAW 8K, so Jean-Baptiste explained to me, “Uncompressed RAW CFA Bayer data from a camera/image sensor is around 21.2Gbps, two times less data than a 4:2:2 uncompressed frame.”

TICO-RAW offers lossless compression of typically 10x with no compromises because of its speed, introducing latency of under 1 ms. It provides the same benefits for transmission and storage.

In a complex environment, a camera output could, for example, be uploaded to the Cloud with ten times less bandwidth within a SMPTE 2110 IP workflow.

The TICO-RAW product was initially released a year ago. The new release, announced in the webinar, adds support for embedding into many more hardware systems. This release also includes a complete software encode/decode library for the first time.

Source: intoPIX

The table above summarizes the key benefits of the TICO-RAW codec for use in connectivity and file storage. The table shows RAW sensor data, so de-Bayering and image adjustment must be made after a decode cycle. Nevertheless, the preference for storing RAW data is on the rise. Using such high-efficiency codecs will soon help enable camera-to-cloud solutions, even at 8K.

In related news, Nikon announced their new Z9 45.7-megapixel mirrorless camera at the end of October. They noted that a future firmware upgrade would include support for capturing 8K content at 60 fps – an industry first for a mirrorless camera. We now know that IntoPIX’s RAW codec is enabling this capability.

8K/60p firmware upgrade will use TICO RAW (credit: Nikon)

For more on intoPIX’s TICO RAW, go to: https://www.intopix.com/tico-raw#Available

Next week we’ll look deeper into JPEG-XS and the contribution intoPIX makes to the standard (link will become available from November 16th here).