5.8. Video with Vulkan on Android

Simul’s Android client supports the decoding of video streams through the use of the Android NDK AMedia and AImage libraries. See Video Decoding with Android NDK. We currently require the support of these two Vulkan device extensions:

When available from Khronos, that and suitable drivers and runtimes are available from the device vendors, we should optionally support:

5.8.1. Importing a Video Stream into Vulkan

Simul’s Android client has class teleport::android::NdkVideoDecoder that interfaces with class teleport::android::VideoDecoderBackend, which extends class avs::DecoderBackendInterface. The NdkVideoDecoder sets up a AMediaCodec Decoder and AImageListener, from which an AImage and its AHardwareBuffer can be obtained. The AHardwareBuffer is obtained from the AImage by calling AImage_getHardwareBuffer(); and a AHardwareBuffer_Desc can also be obtained by calling AHardwareBuffer_describe(). From this point the class NdkVideoDecoder uses the VK_ANDROID_external_memory_android_hardware_buffer extension to import the memory held by the AHardwareBuffer into Vulkan. The following is brief description on how this is implemented:

  • We call vkGetAndroidHardwareBufferPropertiesANDROID() filling out the chained structures: VkAndroidHardwareBufferPropertiesANDROID and VkAndroidHardwareBufferFormatPropertiesANDROID.

  • From VkAndroidHardwareBufferFormatPropertiesANDROID::externalFormat, the device/vendors specific format can be obtained.

  • We fill out a VkExternalFormatANDROID structure using VkAndroidHardwareBufferFormatPropertiesANDROID::externalFormat. The VkExternalFormatANDROID structure is chained into a VkExternalMemoryImageCreateInfo structure, and we bitwise set VkExternalMemoryImageCreateInfo::handleTypes to include VK_EXTERNAL_MEMORY_HANDLE_TYPE_ANDROID_HARDWARE_BUFFER_BIT_ANDROID.

  • We fill out a VkImageCreateInfo structure chaining in the VkExternalMemoryImageCreateInfo structure. The Vulkan specification requires the VkImageCreateInfo structure to be set up as follows:

    • VkImageCreateInfo::flags to 0.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::imageType to VK_IMAGE_TYPE_2D.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::format to VK_FORMAT_UNDEFINED (This defined in the VkExternalFormatANDROID structure).

    • VkImageCreateInfo::extent equal to that of the image size specified in the AMediaCodec.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::mipLevels to 1.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::arrayLayers equal to that of AHardwareBuffer_Desc::layers.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::samples to VK_SAMPLE_COUNT_1_BIT.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::tiling to VK_IMAGE_TILING_OPTIMAL.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::usage to VK_IMAGE_USAGE_SAMPLED_BIT.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::sharingMode to VK_SHARING_MODE_EXCLUSIVE.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::queueFamilyIndexCount to 0.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::pQueueFamilyIndices to nullptr.

    • VkImageCreateInfo::initialLayout to VK_IMAGE_LAYOUT_UNDEFINED.

  • We call vkCreateImage().

  • We fill out a VkMemoryDedicatedAllocateInfo structure setting VkMemoryDedicatedAllocateInfo::image to the VkImage created previously. Vulkan requires that VkImage``s that are to be backed by an ``AHardwareBuffer be a dedicated allocation. We fill out a VkImportAndroidHardwareBufferInfoANDROID structure chaining in the previous VkMemoryDedicatedAllocateInfo structure and setting VkImportAndroidHardwareBufferInfoANDROID::buffer to the AHardwareBuffer obtained from the AMediaCodec’s AImage output.

  • We fill out a VkMemoryAllocateInfo structure chaining in the VkMemoryDedicatedAllocateInfo structure. We set VkMemoryAllocateInfo::allocationSize equal to the VkAndroidHardwareBufferPropertiesANDROID::allocationSize.

  • We use VkAndroidHardwareBufferPropertiesANDROID::memoryTypeBits to select a Memory Type Index for Vulkan to use, and we set that index value into VkMemoryAllocateInfo::memoryTypeIndex. We also ensure that the selected Memory Type has the VK_MEMORY_PROPERTY_DEVICE_LOCAL_BIT associated with it.

  • We call vkAllocateMemory(). Depending on the device vendor’s implementation of the Vulkan specification in its runtime, the implementation will at worse copy the contents of the AHardwareBuffer to a different memory location valid for use in Vulkan, or at best map the memory address to the created VkDeviceMemory.

  • We call vkBindImageMemory() backing the VkImage with the VkDeviceMemory, which is itself ‘backed’ by the AHardwareBuffer.

  • We store the VkImage and VkDeviceMemory for later use and deletion.

Flow chart:

AMediaCodec to VkImage and VkDeviceMemory.

5.8.2. Vulkan Sampler YCbCr Conversion

Simul’s Rendering library Platform (https://github.com/simul/Platform/tree/dev) supports the use of YCbCr samplers for Vulkan. YCbCr Colour Space

YCbCr is favoured over RGB for video broadcssting and streaming as the format implicitly compresses the video data, saving on bandwidth. YCbCr is based on the YUV standard for broadcast television, wherein the video signal is split into a luma (Y) and two chroma (Cb/Cr) components. It is vital to remember that the chroma components are defined to be the difference between the original colour and the luma signal, and therefore the chroma components are signed values ranging from -0.5 to 0.5, whereas the luma component ranges from 0.0 to 1.0, in a signed normalised co-ordinate space.

The YCbCr colour space.

Reference: Wikipedia YCbCr. Chroma Subsampling

Further compression of the video data can be achieved by downsampling the chroma components without affecting the colour perspection. This is because the human eye is less sensitive to high frequency changes in colour data. Chroma Subsampling is expressed by three-part ratio J:a:b, such as 4:2:2.

  • J: horizontal sampling reference (width of the conceptual region). Usually, 4.

  • a: number of chrominance samples (Cb, Cr) in the first row of J pixels.

  • b: number of changes of chrominance samples (Cb, Cr) between first and second row of J pixels.

Chroma Subsampling types.

Wikipedia Chroma subsampling. Interleaved, Planar and Semi Planar

This qualifier refers to the how the data is organised in memory.

  • An Interleaved layout means that the luma and chroma components are interleaved onto a single plane.

  • A Planar layout means that the luma and the two chroma components each have their own planes.

  • A Semi Planar layout means that the luma component has its own plane, and the chroma components are interleaved onto their single plane.

Type / Plane










Semi Planar






U0 Y0 V0 Y1 U1 Y2 V1 Y3 U2 Y4 V2 Y5 U3 Y6 V3 Y7



Y0 U0 Y1 V0 Y2 U1 Y3 V1 Y4 U2 Y5 V2 Y6 U3 Y7 V3




Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 U1 U2 V1 V2



Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 V1 V2 U1 U2


Semi Planar

Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 U1 V1 U2 V2


Semi Planar

Y1 Y2 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 V1 U1 V2 U2

Layouts of alternative colour formats. Layout of a YUV420 image.

Reference: Video LAN Wiki YUV.

Reference: About YUV formats.

Reference: Wikipedia Y′UV420p (and Y′V12 or YV12) to RGB888 conversion. ITU Colour Spaces and Encoding Ranges

As YCbCr is the digital version of the analogue television standard YUV, the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) has defined both the colour spaces and the quantisations the three colour space standards.

The primaries below can be used to create a 3 x 3 matrix that can convert to and from RGB to YCbCr colour spaces. The primaries in the table below are just the luma (Y) component of these colour standards based in the CIE xyY colour space. See reference: Wikipedia CIE 1931 color space: CIE xy chromaticity diagram and the CIE xyY color space.

In terms of the encoding range, the ITU reserved regions at the beginning and end of each ‘representable integer range for rounding errors and for signal control data’. These reversed regions mean that the video data has a narrow range encoding, and their absence means that the video source has full range encoding. Currently, only BT.2100 requires full range encoding: All others use the narrow range encoding.

ITU Standard

TV Format

Red Primary

Green Primary

Blue Primary
















Listing 5.4 How to create a 3 x 3 matrix that can convert to and from RGB to YCbCr colour spaces.
      float3x3 YCbCrToRGB_ConversionMatrix(uint type)
              float a, b, c, d, e;
              switch (type)
                      case 0:
                              a = Colour_BT601_PrimaryR.z;
                              b = Colour_BT601_PrimaryG.z;
                              c = Colour_BT601_PrimaryB.z;
                      case 1:
                              a = Colour_BT709_PrimaryR.z;
                              b = Colour_BT709_PrimaryG.z;
                              c = Colour_BT709_PrimaryB.z;
                      case 2:
                              a = Colour_BT2020_PrimaryR.z;
                              b = Colour_BT2020_PrimaryG.z;
                              c = Colour_BT2020_PrimaryB.z;
              d = 2 * (a + b);
              e = 2 * (1 - a);

              return float3x3(
                      float3(1.0,                0.0,                  e),
                      float3(1.0, (-1.0 * c * d / b), (-1.0 * a * e / b)),
                      float3(1.0,                  d,                0.0)

              float3 Y1CbCr;
              float3 RGB = mul(Y1CbCr, YCbCrToRGB_ConversionMatrix_Fast(type));

Reference: Khronos Colour Space Conversions

Reference: Khronos Colour Space Quantisation Co-sited vs Midpoint

Due to the downsampling of the chroma components, when loading a YCbCr image for use in a shader, it is required that the full chroma samples are reconstructed from the lower spatial resolution of the chrominance planes. The two offset methods are Co-sited and Midpoint. Figures 5 - 10 in Section 16.3.8. of the Vulkan Specification show how the rescaled chroma plane(s) are overlayed on top of the luma plane for 4:2:2 and 4:2:0 in all varying combinations of Co-sited and Midpoint for X and Y. The downsampling method used on the server must match the upsampling method used on the Android client for the chrominance data to be reconstructed accurately.

Reference: Khronos Chroma Reconstruction Simul’s Implementation

Simul’s Implementation uses 4:2:0 NV12 Semi Planar, BT.709. On Meta Quest and Meta Quest 2, the AMediaCodec selects a vendor specific format OMX_QCOM_COLOR_FormatYUV420PackedSemiPlanar32m. This is Khronos OpenMax Qualcomm extension that is specific to Qualcomm SoCs (System On Chip) such as the Snapdragon 835/Adreno 540 (Meta Quest) and the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2/Adreno 650 (Meta Quest 2).

We create a VKSamplerYcbcrConversionKHR from a VkSamplerYcbcrConversionCreateInfoKHR. The majority of the memebers of the structure can filled out using the VkAndroidHardwareBufferFormatPropertiesANDROID structure acquired earlier. Here again VkSamplerYcbcrConversionCreateInfoKHR::format is set to VK_FORMAT_UNDEFINED as the format is defined in the chained VkExternalFormatANDROID structure. VkComponentMapping is set to VK_COMPONENT_SWIZZLE_IDENTITY for the R, G, B and A values. The component remapping is useful for when the Cb and Cr components are swapped such as the NV21 memory layout for 4:2:0. For VkSamplerYcbcrConversionCreateInfoKHR::chromaFilter we use VK_FILTER_NEAREST so as not to ‘blend’ between the chrominance pixels, and we disable VkSamplerYcbcrConversionCreateInfoKHR::forceExplicitReconstruction.

With the VKSamplerYcbcrConversionKHR created, we assign this to VkSamplerYcbcrConversionInfoKHR::conversion and chain the VkSamplerYcbcrConversionInfoKHR structure into a VkSamplerCreateInfo structure for platform::vulkan::RenderPlatform’s single video sampler and into a VkImageViewCreateInfo structure for each instance of platform::vulkan::Texture where a YCbCr conversion is needed.

VKSamplerYcbcrConversionKHR creation and set up for VkImageView and VkSampler. YCbCr in Compute Shaders and Load Operations

Presently, the video sampler is unused, as we do a HLSL: Texture2D.Load() / GLSL: texelFetch() operation in a compute shader. The previous information used to create VKSamplerYcbcrConversionKHR, and that was ultimately passed to the VkImageView, is still used to reconstruct the chrominance data, returning the separated Y, U and V components as if it were a 4:4:4 Planar YCbCr image. The load operation converts the 8-bit unsigned integer (0 - 255) to a normalised floating point 32-bit value (0.0 - 1.0). This works fine for the luma component, but the chroma need to offset by -0.5, putting them in the range (-0.5 - 0.5) to match the YCbCr colour space. The load operation assigns the Y, Cb and Cb channels to the RGB channels as follows:

  • Y => G.

  • U => B.

  • V => R.

Listing 5.5 Loading a YCbCr texture in a compute shader.
      Texture2D<float4> ycbcrTexture;
      RWTexture2D<float4> rgbTexture;

      float3x3 YCbCrToRGB_ConversionMatrix_Fast(uint type)
              float3x3 result;
              switch (type)

                      case 0:
                              result = float3x3(
                                      float3(+1.000, +0.000, +1.402),
                                      float3(+1.000, -0.344, -0.714),
                                      float3(+1.000, +1.772, +0.000));
                      case 1:
                              result = float3x3(
                                      float3(+1.0000, +0.0000, +1.5748),
                                      float3(+1.0000, -0.1873, -0.4681),
                                      float3(+1.0000, +1.8556, +0.0000));
                      case 2:
                              result = float3x3(
                                      float3(+1.0000, +0.0000, +1.4746),
                                      float3(+1.0000, -0.1646, -0.5714),
                                      float3(+1.0000, +1.8814, +0.0000));
              return result;

      void CS_ConvertYCbCrToRGB(uint3 position, uint type)
              float3 value = ycbcrTexture.Load(int3(position.x, position.y, 0)).rgb;
              float Cr = value.r - 0.5;
              float Cb = value.b - 0.5;
              float Y1 = value.g;

              vec4 clr;
              clr.rgb = mul(float3(Y1, Cb, Cr), YCbCrToRGB_ConversionMatrix_Fast(type));
              clr.a = 1.0;
              rgbTexture[position.xy] = clr;

      [numthreads(8, 8, 1)]
      shader void CS_ConvertYCbCrToRGB_BT709(uint3 position : SV_DispatchThreadID)
              CS_ConvertYCbCrToRGB(position, 1);
      } Classes

teleport::android::NdkVideoDecoder teleport::android::VideoDecoderBackend

See also avs::DecoderBackendInterface.