Archive for the ‘NihAV’ Category

NihAV — Buffers and Wrappers

Saturday, May 27th, 2017

It might be hard to believe but the number of decoders in NihAV has tripled! So now there are three codecs supported in NihAV: Intel Indeo 2, Intel Indeo 3 and PCM.

Before I talk about the design I’d like to say some things about Indeo 3 implementation. Essentially it’s an improvement over Indeo 2 that had simple delta compression—now deltas are coming from one of 21 codebooks and can be applied to both pairs and quads of pixels, there is motion compensation and planes are split into cells that use blocks for coding data in them (4×4, 4×8 or 8×8 blocks). libavcodec had two versions of the decoder: the first version was submitted anonymously and looks like it’s a direct translation of disassembly for XAnim vid_iv32.so; the second version is still based on some binary specifications but also with some information coming from the Intel patent. The problem is that those two implementations are both rather horrible to translate directly into Rust because of all the optimisations like working with a quad of pixels as 32-bit integer plus lots of macros and overall control flow like a maze of twisty little passages. In result I’ve ended with three main structures: Indeo3Decoder for main things, Buffers for managing the internal frame buffers and doing pixel operations like block copy and CellDecParams for storing current cell decoding parameters like block dimensions, indices to the codebooks used and pointers to the functions that actually apply deltas or copy the lines for the current block (for example there are two different ways to do that for 4×8 block).

Anyway, back to overall NihAV design changes. Now there’s a dedicated structure NATimeInfo for keeping DTS, PTS, frame duration and timebase information; this structure is used in both NAFrame and NAPacket for storing timestamp information. And NAFrame now is essentially the wrapper for NATimeInfo, NABufferType plus some metadata.

So what is NABufferType? It is the type-specific frame buffer that stores actual data:

pub enum NABufferType {
    Video      (NAVideoBuffer<u8>),
    Video16    (NAVideoBuffer<u16>),
    VideoPacked(NAVideoBuffer<u8>),
    AudioU8    (NAAudioBuffer<u8>),
    AudioI16   (NAAudioBuffer<i16>),
    AudioI32   (NAAudioBuffer<i32>),
    AudioF32   (NAAudioBuffer<f32>),
    AudioPacked(NAAudioBuffer<u8>),
    Data       (NABufferRefT<u8>),
    None,
}

As you can see it declares several types of audio and video buffers. That’s because you don’t want to mess with bytes in many cases: if you decode 10-bit video you’d better output pixels directly into 16-bit elements, same with audio; for the other cases there’s AudioPacked/VideoPacked. To reiterate: the idea is that you allocate buffer of specific type and output native elements into it (floats for AudioF32, 16-bit for packed RGB565/RGB555 formats etc. etc.) and the conversion interface or the sink will take care of converting data into designated format.

And here’s how audio buffer looks like (video buffer is about the same but doesn’t have channel map):

pub struct NAAudioBuffer<T> {
    info:   NAAudioInfo,
    data:   NABufferRefT<T>,
    offs:   Vec<usize>,
    chmap:  NAChannelMap,
}

impl<T: Clone> NAAudioBuffer<T> {
    pub fn get_offset(&self, idx: usize) -> usize { ... }
    pub fn get_info(&self) -> NAAudioInfo { self.info }
    pub fn get_chmap(&self) -> NAChannelMap { self.chmap.clone() }
    pub fn get_data(&self) -> Ref<Vec<T>> { self.data.borrow() }
    pub fn get_data_mut(&mut self) -> RefMut<Vec<T>> { self.data.borrow_mut() }
    pub fn copy_buffer(&mut self) -> Self { ... }
}

For planar audio (or video) get_offset() allows caller to obtain the offset in the buffer to the requested component (because it’s all stored in the single buffer).

There are two functions for allocating buffers:

pub fn alloc_video_buffer(vinfo: NAVideoInfo, align: u8) -> Result<NABufferType, AllocatorError>;
pub fn alloc_audio_buffer(ainfo: NAAudioInfo, nsamples: usize, chmap: NAChannelMap) -> Result<NABufferType, AllocatorError>;

Video buffer allocated buffer in the requested format with the provided block alignment (it’s for the codecs that actually code data in e.g. 16×16 macroblocks but still want to report frame having e.g. width=1366 or height=1080 and if you think that it’s better to constantly confuse avctx->width with avctx->coded_width then you’ve forgotten this project name). Audio buffer allocator needs to know the length of the frame in samples instead.

As for subtitles, they will not be implemented in NihAV beside demuxing the stream with subtitle data. I believe subtitles are the dependent kind of stream and because of that they should be rendered by the consumer (video player program or whatever). Otherwise you need to take, say, RGB-encoded subtitles, convert them into proper YUV flavour and draw in the specific region of the frame which might be not the original size if you use e.g. DVD rip encoded into different size with DVD subtitles preserved as is. And for textual subtitles you have even more rendering problems since you need to render them with proper font (stored as the attachment in the container), apply using the proper effect, adjust positions if needed and such. Plus the user may want to adjust them during playback in some way so IMO it belongs to the rendering pipeline and not NihAV (it’s okay though, you’re not going to use NihAV anyway).

Oh, and PCM “decoder” just rewraps buffer provided by NAPacket as NABufferType::AudioPacked, it’s good enough to dump as is and the future resampler will take care of format conversion.

No idea what comes next: maybe it’s Indeo audio decoders, maybe it’s Indeo 4/5 video decoder or maybe it’s deflate unpacker. Or something completely different. Or nothing at all. Only the time will tell.

NihAV — Glue and Hacks

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

I don’t like to write the code that does nothing, it’s the excitement of my code doing at least something that keeps me writing code. So instead of designing a lot of new interfaces and such that can describe all theoretically feasible stuff plus utility code to handle the things passed through aforementioned interfaces, I’ve just added some barely working stuff, wrote a somewhat working demuxer and made a decoder.

And here it is:
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NihAV – io module

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I’ve more or less completed nihav::io module, so let’s look at it (or not, it’s your choice).

There are four components there: bytestream reading, bitstream reading, generic integer code reading and codebook support for bitstream reader. Obviously there is no writing functionality there but I don’t need it now and it can be added later when (or if) needed.
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NihAV Development Progress

Saturday, May 6th, 2017

After long considerations and much hesitation NihAV finally accepts it’s first developer (that would be me). And for a change it will be written in Rust. First, it’s an interesting language worth learning; second, it seems to offer needed functionality without much hassle; third, it offers new features that are tempting to try. By new features I mostly mean enums, traits and functions bound to structures.

Previously I expressed the intent to do a completely new design of multimedia (mostly decoding) framework with decoders being assembled from smaller blocks. For example, if I’d implement VIVO H.263 decoder (just as a troll) it would contain these bits:

  • generic 8×8 block decoder interface that does common stuff for such decoders (maintaining block indices, filling frame information e.g. block type, motion vectors etc etc);
  • trait for 8×8 block decoder implementation that does actual bitstream decoding (functions for decoding GOP/picture/slice headers, MV prediction, block data decoding and such);
  • IPB frame shuffler as implementation of generic frame shuffler (i.e. that piece of code that selects which frames to use as references and which frame to output after decoding the current one);
  • maybe even custom codebook accessor (the piece of code that tells codebook generator what is the code and symbol at position N) so it doesn’t need to be converted into some fixed form.

There’s not much code written yet but there are some bits implemented: rudimentary universal bitstream reader, bytestream reader (the same for memory and file I/O) and semi-working framework for demuxing. That’s a start at least.

Side rant: it seems that visible languages (i.e. not completely obscure ones) that use := form assignment have rather unpleasant evangelists (full of themselves in the best case, actively pushing their language to replace everything else in the worst case). That includes Go, Oberon and Wolfram Language. I don’t mean that other languages are free of that problem but in these cases looks like the majority of posts or articles about such language are written from this position.

NAScale — Internal Design

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

In my previous post I’ve described NAScale ideas and here I’d like to give more detailed overview on the internal design.

Basically, it builds a processing pipeline (or chain, I insist on terminology being inconsistent) that takes input frame, does some magic on it and outputs the result.
Let’s start with looking at typical pipeline for processing packed formats:
NAScale pipeline
And that should be a pipeline for the worst case since we don’t need input unpacker when it’s not packed (and same for the output), and processing stage might be not needed either (if we simply repack formats), and in some cases one stage will be enough.
My approach for pipeline construction is rather simple:

  • we have special modules (called kernels) that are used to construct pipeline stages;
  • all those modules are divided into three categories (input handling, output handling and intermediate filters)
  • all stages input and output (except for the source and destination handlers) should be planar and either 8- or 16-bit native endian (the less variations in input and output one has to handle the better).

Efficiency considerations tell us there will be special kernels for combining format conversion into one stage (like super-optimised rgb24tovyuy) but generic pipeline able to hold almost any format should have one universal input unpacker and one universal output packer.

Let’s review how pipeline building should work.
Unfortunately, my prototype can build only several pipelines for very specific cases but the principle stays the same.


Zeroeth stage: check if we are dealing with completely the same input and output formats and dimensions and then just apply memcopy (the kernel is obviously called murder).
Even if formats are the same we may need to scale the input or convert it to account for colourspace details etc etc.
Right from the start we need to check if we deal with a packed format and insert unpack stage or skip it and feed input directly to the processing stage.
On one hand there might be need for input stage converting planar 12-bit input into proper 16-bit input for processing stages, on the other hand it might be skipped in some cases (for efficiency reasons).

And then you should add a next stage but don’t forget about intermediate planar buffers—they should be allocated for the stage so that the following stage will know where to read its input from.
Now it’s probably a good time to mention that during pipeline construction we should keep track of current format and thus each stage construction should modify it to let the next stage know what input format it should expect (e.g. input was packed 10-bit BGR, unpack makes it into 16-bit planar RGB, scale changes nothing but dimensions and rgb2yuv converts it to 16-bit YUV and pack converts it into output format like YUYV).
Don’t forget that for clarity and simplicity all stages get pointers to the components in the order of the colourspace model components, i.e. it’s always R,G,B even if the input was packed BGR32 (the pointers will point to the start positions of the component in a packed input in that case), and that applies to both input and output.

Kernels are standalone modules that prepare contexts and processing functions but intermediate and scratch buffers are allocated by NAScale core during pipeline construction.
Often you don’t need scratch buffers but when your stage outputs only three components (i.e. RGB) and the next stage demands four (i.e. RGBA) you should allocate a scratch buffer for that stage to use as an input (again, for efficiency reasons we might want to pass through buffers from the previous stage that are not touched in the current one but I’m not sure how to implement that yet).
Developing all of this should be not that hard though and most time should be spent on optimising common cases instead.
And that’s all for now.

NihAV — Notes on Audio

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

There’s one thing I like in Libav audio design and that’s planar audio. There’s one thing I don’t like about it and that’s handling multichannel audio. As a project with roots intermingled with MPlayer, it has followed M$ definition of multichannel audio and since many multichannel codecs have their own channel order lavc decoders have to define channel reordering tables. And it gets hairier when you have dynamic channel configuration (i.e. not one of the static channels configurations but rather a channel mask defining what channels are present or not). It gets especially fun with codecs that have extensions to the base 5.1 format that redefine existing channels and add new ones (like D*lby and DT$ codecs).

My proposal is that multichannel codecs should not bother with what the library considers The Only True Layout but rather export channel map along with the channel data and let the conversion library figure it out (shuffling pointers is not hard you know).

P.S. It’s hard to blame lu_zero for the current Libav situation but I still shall do it.

NihAV — NAScale

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

First, some history. If you don’t like reading about it just skip to the ruler below.

So, NAScale is born after yet another attempt to design a good colourspace conversion and scaling library. Long time ago FFmpeg didn’t have any proper solution for that and used rather rudimentary imgconvert; later it was replaced with libswscale lifted from MPlayer. Unfortunately it was designed for rather specific player tasks (mostly converting YUV to RGB for displaying with X11 DGA driver) rather than generic utility library and some of its original design still shows to this day. Actually, libswscale should have a warm place in every true FFmpeg developer’s heart next to MPEGEncContext. Still, while being far from ideal it has SIMD optimisations and it works, so it’s still being used.

And yet some people unsatisfied with it decided to write a replacement from scratch. Originally AVScale (a Libav™ project) was supposed to be designed during coding sprint in Summer 2014. And of course nothing substantial came out of it.

Then I proposed my vision how it should work and even wrote a proof of concept (i.e. throwaway) code to demonstrate it back in Autumn 2014. I’d made an update to it in March 2015 to show how to work with high bitdepth formats but nobody has touched it since then (and hardly before that too). Thus I’m reusing that failing effort as NAScale for NihAV.


And now about the NAScale design.

The main guiding rule was: “see libswscale? Don’t do it like this.

First, I really hate long enums and dislike API/ABI breaks. So NAScale should have stable interface and no enumeration of known pixel formats. What should it have instead? Pixel format description that should be good enough to make NAScale convert even formats it had no idea about (like BARG5156 to YUV412).

So what should such description have? Colourspace information (RGB/YUV/XYZ/whatever, gamma, transfer function etc), size of whole packed pixel where applicable (i.e. not for planar formats) and individual component information. That component information includes information on how to find and/or extract such component (i.e. on which plane it is located, what shift and mask is needed to extract it from packed bitfield, how many bytes to skip to find the first and next component etc.) and subsampling information. The names chosen for those descriptors were Formaton and Chromaton (for rather obvious reasons).

Second, the way NAScale processes data. As I remember it libswscale converted input into YUV with fixed precision before scaling and then back into destination format unless it was common case format conversion without scaling (and then some bypass hacks were employed like plane repacking function and such).

NAScale prefers to build filter chain in stages. Each stage has either one function processing all components or a function processing only one component applied to each component — that allows you to execute e.g. scaling in parallel. It also allows to build proper conversion+scaling process without horrible hacks. Each stage might have its own temporary buffers that will be used for output (and fed to the next stage).

You need to convert XYZ to YUV? First you unpack XYZ into planar RGB (stage 1), then scale it (stage 2) and then convert it to YUV (stage 3). NAScale constructs chain by searching for kernels that can do the work (e.g. convert input into some intermediate format or pack planes into output format), provides that kernel with a Formaton and dimensions and that kernels sets stage processing functions. For example, the first stage of RGB to YUV is unpacking RGB data, thus NAScale searches for the kernel called rgbunp, which sets stage processing function and allocated RGB plane buffers, then the kernel called rgb2yuv will convert and pack RGB data from the planes into YUV.

And last, implementation. I’ve written some sample code that would be able to take RGB input (high bitdepth was supported too), scale it if needed and pack back into RGB or convert into YUV depending on what was requested. So test program converted raw r210 frame into r10k or input PPM into PPM or PGMYUV with scaling. I think it’s enough to demonstrate how the concept works. Sadly nobody has picked this work (and you know whom I blame for that; oh, and koda — he wanted to be mentioned too).

NihAV — Processing Graph Notes

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

I’m giving only a short overview for now, more to come later.

Basically, you have NAGraph that connects different workers (processing units with queues).
Lock-free NAQueue should accept only objects of certain type (side note: introduce libnaarch/naatomics.h).
Also those objects should have a common base (NAGraphObject) that extends NAClass by adding side data and signaling subtype (NAPacket, NARawData or NAFrame for now).
Multiple object types with a common base allow to have the same processing interface (after all, both encoders and decoders simply take some input data and output something else).
Elementary stream from demuxers can be either fed to parser filter that will produce proper packets or it will be directly accepted by decoder or muxer.
Later I should make those parser filters autoinserted too.
Uniform interface should allow easier integration of third-party components even in binary form (if there’s somebody willing to use not yet existing library like this).


Zonal partitioning of the graph (inputs, processing, outputs) maybe should include generic filters (e.g. de/noise) too, and maybe set a flag on NAFrame if it can be modified or should be kept intact.
Errors should be caught right at graph processing stage (do that with callbacks and have fun).
Roughly, this should be the architecture for NihAV till the end of its days since it should be future proof.

Of course, all things described here should be implemented too eventually (sigh).

NihAV: Data Delivery Channels

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Disclaimer: this should’ve been written by a certain Italian (and discussed during VDD too) but since he is even lazier than me (and stopped on writing only this), I ended writing this.

One of the main concerns in framework design is how data will be passed from sources to destinations. There are two ways that are mistakenly called synchronous and asynchronous, the main difference being lack of CLK signal how the producing function passes data further — on return when it’s done whatever it wanted to do or by passing control to some external procedure immediately when data is available.

In the worst case of synchronous data passing you have a fixed pipeline: one unit of input goes in, one unit of output is expected to be produced (and maybe one more on final flush), repeat for the next stage. In the worst case of asynchronous data passing you have one thread per stage waiting for another thread to signal that it has some data ready to process. Or in single-threaded mode you simply have nested callbacks, again one per stage, calling the next callback in a chain when it has something to deliver.

Anyway, how should this all apply to NihAV?

In the simplest case we have one chain:

[Demuxer] --> (optional stream splitter) --> Packets --> [Decoder] --> Frames --> [output]

In real world scenario all complexity starts at the stage marked [output]. There you usually feed frames to some filter chain, then to encoder and combine several streams to push all that stuff to some muxer(s).

As for data passing, you can have it in several modes: main processing loop, synchronous processing graph, asynchronous processing graph or an intricate maze of callbacks all alike.

With the main processing loop you have something like this:

while (has_input()) {
   pkt = get_input();
   send_output(pkt);
   while(has_output()) {
     write_output();
   }
}
while(has_output()) {
   write_output();
}

It’s ideal if you like micromanagement and want to save on memory but with many stages it might get rather hairy.

The synchronous processing graph (if you think it’s not called so look at the project name again) adds queues and operates on stages:

while(can_process(graph)) {
   for (i = 0; i < num_stages; i++) {      graph->stages[i]->process(graph->inqueues[i], graph->outqueues[i]);
   }
}

In this situation you have not a single [input] -> [output] connection but rather [input] -> (queue) -> [output], every stage is connected by some queues with another stage and can consume/produce several (or none) elements in any of the queues.

The asynchronous processing graph relies on the output stages pulling data from all previous stages or input stages pushing data to the following stages.

int filter_process(Filter *f, void *data)
{
  do_something(f->context, data);
  f->next->filter(f->next, data);
}

And callback is:

int demux(void (*consumer)(...)){
   while (!eof) {
     read_something();
     if (has_packet)
       consumer(ctx->consumer_id, packet);
   }
   return 0;
}

Callbacks are nice but they move a lot of burden into callback writer and they are hard to get right especially if you do something nontrivial.

So far I’m inclined to have the second approach. E.g. Bink demuxer has packets for several streams stored together in one block — so demuxer will create them all and put into its output queue. Hardware accelerated codec may send several frames for decoding at once — so it will read as many as possible or needed from the input queue and add all decoded frames into output queue when they’re done. Also all shitty tasks like proper synchronisation can be made into filters too.

Of course that will create several new problems especially with resource management but they should be solvable.

For NihAV implementation that means adding NAQueue and several new datatypes (packet, frame, whatever) plus a mechanism in NAClass to recognize them because you would not want a wrong thing going to the wrong pipeline (e.g. decoder expects NAPacket and gets NAFrame instead).

NihAV — I/O

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

And now let’s talk about probably the hairiest part of multimedia framework — input-output layer.

Current libavformat design looks too messy to me and thus my design will be different. I know that some Lucas prefer the old way but I’d rather split protocol handling into several layers.

First, there’s base I/O handler used solely for I/O operations. NAIOHandler contains functions for reading data, reading data asynchronously, writing data, seeking and ioctl() for some I/O-specific operations. There will be very few I/O handlers — just file, network (TCP/UDP) and null.

On top of that there’s protocol handler. Protocol handler employs I/O handler to perform I/O operations and provides only reading, writing, seeking and flushing functions. There may be buffered and unbuffered wrappers over I/O handler or something less trivial like HTTP handler.

On top of that there may be a layer or several of other protocol handlers if they need to relate to other protocols (i.e. Some-Streaming-Protocol-over-HTTP).

And on the very top there are I/O functions using protocol handlers for reading and writing data (bytes, X-bit integers, buffers). Those are used by (de)muxers.

That’s the plan, insert usual rant about lack of time, interest and such here.