Uncompressed video/image sequence playback

WATCHOUT supports playback of fully uncompressed video and image sequences. Video compression is a challenge for a wide range of applications, as it reduces overall image quality and adds unwanted artefacts such as discoloration, break-ups and noise to the image.

In several high-end installations and projects there is a requirement for the media server to play back video uncompressed. However, in the majority of installations and projects, there is no need for uncompressed playback as it adds cost (disk space, CPU, GPU, RAM) and smart use of compression yields virtually lossless playback (a well trained eye see the difference)

Why compress video and images?

An uncompressed video file requires a lot from the media server, both physical storage space as well as bandwidth (data transfer from hard-drive to graphics card or CPU) for video playback. Compressing the video file will reduce the file size as well as bandwidth requirement.

What is compression?

Video compression is based on the concept of codecs. A codec (which stands for compressor/decompressor) is the part of the editing and display technology responsible for storing and playing back compressed digitized video.

There’s a wide range of codecs available, each optimized for a particular kind of source material and playback requirements.

Image sequences

An alternative to video playback, WATCHOUT can play image sequences. This is conceptually similar to video file playback, but instead of storing the entire video in a single file, each video frame is stored as a separate file.

For image sequences, WATCHOUT supports: 

  • Uncompressed 8-bit RGB/RGBA Tiff
  • Uncompressed 8-bit BGR/BGRA TGA

The TGA (without run-length encoding compression) files yields best playback performance. 

How do you play uncompressed video with WATCHOUT?

Due to the large amount of raw data in a video stream, storing and playing back uncompressed video is usually not feasible. To playback uncompressed video from WATCHOUT we recommend the use of image sequences.

Compression example

As an example of file size and image quality, we use the film Big Buck Bunny (downloaded from https://media.xiph.org).  

The codecs used are MPEG-2 (4:2:0), H.264 4:2:0, HAP, HAPQ and of course uncompressed.

Image quality metrics (PSNR)

In addition to the differences in file size, we have an example of image quality metric, where we use Peak-Signal-Noise-Ratio (PSNR). Here we compare a single frame from the image sequence, and compare the noise in the various compressed formats.

 The quality of the compressed files is quite identical and the difference will mainly be file size and playback performance.

Bit Rate (Mb/s)

Disc Bandwidth (MB/s)

Size per minute (MB)

RMSE Error (%)


























As the table above shows, the error rate is small, but a trained eye will see the difference. In HAP_Q the experienced image quality is higher, due to most of the measured errors is from YCoCg color space where colors are subject to errors.

Pictures: Link to the original files as well as show them in the text.

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