MPEG Future – to give MPEG the right future

The benefits of the MPEG Future proposal

MPEG Future makes a clear proposal for the future of MPEG: inject new elements of innovation while moving MPEG and with its successful standardisation model up one layer in the ISO hierarchy – from Working Group (WG) to Subcommittee (SC). What is the value of this proposal? Moving up in the hierarchy? That would not even be worth mentioning.

So, let’s make an analysis of the value of the MPEG Future proposal on the basis of the following parameters, currently of the first 6. More will be coming soon.

Governance Execution of work plan Synergies inside MPEG
Strategic planning Joint work with others Relationship with JPEG
Area of work Leadership Brand



An ISO Working Group (WG) is typically established to carry out a specific project or a set of projects. When the goal is achieved, it is disbanded.

MPEG is a very special WG: it has been in operation for 31 years, has reached a membership of 1600 with 600 attending, has developed some 180 standards, has become the enabler of the business of its global client industries – distribution via packaged media, broadcasting and broadband/mobile networks – worth hundreds of billion USD p.a.

MPEG must have a formal governance, as the ISO/IEC directives ensures a and be the official – as opposed to proxy – interface with its client industries.

Execution of work plan

MPEG exists because it has a work plan to execute so that companies can develop new products and services. Have a look at the MPEG work plan

The MPEG Future proposal ensures that the work plan can be accomplished because the same MPEG machine that has developed and is executing the work plan as a WG, will continue to operate as an SC powered by new innovations.

Synergies inside MPEG

MPEG is not just a collection of groups, one doing video, another audio etc. It is a collection of groups interacting to produce integrated standards. This means that, to accomplish their work, the groups need to sit together and discuss how to integrate the different pieces. This is well represented by the figure below

Therefore, MPEG Future does not intend to transform the MPEG subgroup into a set of autonomous or, worse, non-communicating working groups, but enhance the MPEG ecosystem of today into similarly collaborative and interacting MPEG Working Groups.

Strategic planning

For 31 years MPEG has developed and implemented strategic plans that have been extremely beneficial to industry. With MPEG-1 it kickstarted the digital video business and MP3, with MPEG-2 it made the dream of digital television possible, with MPEG-4 it brought media to the web in a sustainable fashion, with MPEG-7 it entered the long path of media coding for machines, with MPEG-21 it developed framework and technologies for ecommerce of media and so on. A host of other standards followed, all conceived and developed by MPEG. This is a synthetic picture of how MPEG implementated its digital media standardisation strategy.

MPEG Future proposes to continue relying on MPEG’s capability to develop and then execute strategic plans.

Joint work with others

Since 1992 MPEG is successfully collaborating with ITU-T SG 16 to jointly develop standards for video coding and, in the case of MPEG-2, also for its transport. This collaboration has continued for 27 and has produced two more successful standards: Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). Versatile Video Coding (VVC) is close to reaching Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) stage and will bring to 5 the successful collaborations.

MPEG has collaborated with many other organisations. The table below reports some of the most relevant.

Body Started in Result of collaboration
ITU-T SG16 1992
  • 4 standards (MPEG-2 Systems-Video, AVC, HEVC)
  • 1 standard under development (VVC)
JPEG Mid 2000s
  • 1 standard (ISO BMFF)
  • 1 amendment (transport of JPEG2000)
  • 1 amendment (transport of JPEG XS)
3GPP Mid 2000s
  • 2 major standards (ISO Based Media File Format & DASH)
JTC 1/SC 24 2013
  • 1 standard (Mixed and Augmented Reality Reference Model)
ISO TC 276 2016
  • 3 standards (MPEG-G Part 1, 2 & 3)
  • 3 standards under development (MPEG-G parts 4, 5 & 6)

Award do not have a value per se, but for what they mean. MPEG has received several Emmy Awards. They confirm that the industry is on MPEG side. MPEG Future wants to perpetuate this successful collaboration spirit.

Relationship with JPEG

JPEG is the MPEG sister WG. It is in charge of image coding and serves a different industry than MPEG. MPEG has provided JPEG with several technologies, such as the ISO Based Media File Format (ISOBMFF, also-called MP4 file format) and has developed standards to transport JPEG image formats. In particular the MPEG-2 transport of JPEG 2000 and their recent JPEG XS.

MPEG Future proposes that MPEG continues its successful provider-client relationship with JPEG in the same way that MPEG holds a provider-client relationship with other organisationally separate committees.


The MPEG Future proposal
Today MPEG operates as a Working Group (WG 11) within Subcommittee 29 (SC 29) of ISO/IEC JTC 1. An ISO Subcommittee addresses a specialized area of expertise, while a working group is typically a limited-size specialised group within a subcommittee tasked to develop a particular set of standards.

We believe that the MPEG organisation, developed over the last 31 years, is sound and effective because it is the result of a continuous evolution. MPEG has been and is able to conceive strategic visions for new media user experiences, design work plans in response to industry needs, develop standards in close collaboration with client industries, demonstrate their performance and promote their use.
The main results of a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) analysis point to the need for MPEG to achieve Subcommittee status compatible with its wide scope of work and large membership (1500 registered members and 600 attending physical meetings), retain its scope and structure but slightly amend it to improve the match of standards with market needs, leverage internal talents, and retain and enhance the MPEG brand.
Therefore, we propose that MPEG become a Subcommittee in JTC 1 (SC 4x), organised into Working Groups (developing standards) and Advisory Groups (supporting the development of standards) as depicted in the figure below:

The proposed structure, marginally different than the current one, does not capture an important part of the proposal, namely that SC 4x should retain the current MPEG modus operandi:

  1. SC 4x holds its meetings collocated with the meetings of its WGs and AGs requesting to meet;
  2. SC 4x facilitates the formation of break-out groups during meetings and of ad hoc groups in between meetings;
  3. SC 4x exploits inter-group synergies by facilitating joint meetings between different WGs and AGs during physical meetings;
  4. SC 4x promotes use of every ICT tools that can improve its effectiveness, e.g. teleconferencing and MPEG-specific IT tools to support standards development.

SC 4x should continue WG 11’s open-minded approach to collaboration with client communities and groups operating in related domains. For the latter, the instrument of Joint Working Groups should be widely adopted.
The National Body of Italy (ITNB), the originator of this proposal, should hold the secretariat of SC 4x. ITNB has confirmed that it will

  1. Nominate the MPEG convenor as SC 4x chair;
  2. Support the nomination of the current subgroup rapporteurs as convenors and facilitate the nomination of other candidates meeting the sentiment of the community;
  3. Nominate an “SC 4x chair elect” from a country other than Italy using criteria of
    a. Continuity of WG 11’s vision and strategy;
    b. Full understanding of the scope of SC 4x;
    c. Record of performance in the currently held position;
  4. Promote new means to identify candidates for nomination, e.g. Secretariat leverages internal talents by nominating a candidate from a list suggested by SC4x Chair and WG Convenors;
    Meetings will be held with the traditional “MPEG week format” slightly adapted to accommodate SC 4x plenaries, but with no impact on WG/AG meeting times.