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With the introduction of the H.264/AVC video coding standard, significant improvements have recently been demonstrated in video compression capability. The Joint Video Team of the ITU-T VCEG and the ISO/IEC MPEG has now also standardized a Scalable Video Coding (SVC) extension of the H.264/AVC standard. SVC enables the transmission and decoding of partial bit streams to provide video services with lower temporal or spatial resolutions or reduced fidelity while retaining a reconstruction quality that is high relative to the rate of the partial bit streams. Hence, SVC provides functionalities such as graceful degradation in lossy transmission environments as well as bit rate, format, and power adaptation. These functionalities provide enhancements to transmission and storage applications. SVC has achieved significant improvements in coding efficiency with an increased degree of supported scalability relative to the scalable profiles of prior video coding standards. This paper provides an overview of the basic concepts for extending H.264/AVC towards SVC. Moreover, the basic tools for providing temporal, spatial, and quality scalability are described in detail and experimentally analyzed regarding their efficiency and complexity.