Additional Details on Video Encoding Standards

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Efficient video encoding is required for 3DTV/3DV and for FVT/FVV. 3DTV/3DV support 3D depth impression of the observed scenery, while FVT/FVV additionally allow for an interactive selection of viewpoint and direction within a certain operating range. Hence, a common feature of 3DV and FVV systems is the use of multiple views of the same scene that are
transmitted to the user. Multi-view 3D video can be encoded implicitly in the V + D representation or, as is more often the case, explicitly.

In implicit coding one seeks to use (implicit) shape coding in combination with MPEG-2/MPEG-4. Implicit shape coding could mean that the shape can be easily extracted at the decoder, without explicit shape information present in the bitstream. These types of image compression schemes do not rely on the usual additive decomposition of an input image into a set of predefined spanning functions. These schemes only encode implicit properties of the image and reconstruct
an estimate of the scene at the decoding end. This has particular advantages when one seeks very low bitrate perceptually oriented image compression [32]. The literature on this topic is relatively scanty. Chroma Key might be useful in this context: Chroma Key, or green screen, allows one to put a subject anywhere in a scene or environment using the Chroma Key as the background. One can then import the image into the digital editing software, extract the Chroma Key and replace with another image or video. Chroma Key shape coding for implicit shape coding (for medium quality shape extraction) has been proposed and also demonstrated in the recent past.

On the other hand, there are a number of strategies for explicit coding of multiview video: (i) simulcast coding, (ii) scalable simulcast coding, (iii) multi-view coding, and (iv) Scalable Multi-View Coding (SMVC).

Simulcast coding is the separate encoding (and transmission) of the two video scenes in the CSV format; clearly the bitrate will typically be in the range of double that of 2DTV. V + D is more bandwidth efficient not only in the abstract,
but also in practice. At the practical level, in a V + D environment the quality of the compressed depth map is not a significant factor in the final quality of the rendered stereoscopic 3D video. This follows from the fact that the depth
map is not directly viewed, but is employed to warp the 2D color image to two stereoscopic views. Studies show that the depth map can typically be compressed to 10%–20% of the color information.

V + D (also called 2D plus depth, or 2D + depth, or color plus depth) has been standardized in MPEG as an extension for 3D filed under ISO/IEC FDIS 23002-3:2007(E). In 2007, MPEG specified a container format “ISO/IEC 23002-3 Representation of Auxiliary Video and Supplemental Information” (also known as MPEG-C Part 3) that can be utilized for V + D data. 2D + depth, as specified by ISO/IEC 23002-3 supports the inclusion of depth for generation of an increased number of views. While it has the advantage of being backward compatible with legacy devices and is agnostic of coding formats, it is capable of rendering only a limited depth range since it does not directly handle occlusions [33]. Transport of this data is defined in a separate MPEG systems specification “ISO/IEC 13818-1:2003 Carriage of Auxiliary Data.”

There is also major interest in MV + D. Applicable coding schemes of interest here include the following:

  • Multiple-view video coding (MVC)
  • Scalable Video Coding (SVC)
  • Scalable multi-view video coding (SMVC)

From a test/test-bed implementation perspective, for the first two options, each view can be independently coded using the public-domain H.264 and SVC codecs respectively. Test implementations for MVC and for preliminary implementations of an SMVC codec have been documented recently in the literature.

Multiple-View Video Coding (MVC)

It has been recognized that MVC is a key technology for a wide variety of future applications including FVV/FTV, 3DTV, immersive teleconference and surveillance, and other applications. An MPEG standard, “Multi-View Video Coding
(MVC),” to support MV + D (and also V + D) encoded representation inside the MPEG-2 transport stream has been developed by the JVT of ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T VCEG (ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 and ITU-T SG16 Q.6). MVC
allows the construction of bitstreams that represent multiple views [34]; MVC supports efficient encoding of video sequences captured simultaneously from multiple cameras using a single video stream. MVC can be used for encoding
stereoscopic (two-view) and multi-view 3DTV, and for FVV/FVT.

MVC (ISO/IEC 14496-10:2008 Amendment 1 and ITU-T Recommendation H.264) is an extension of the AVC standard that provides efficient coding of multi-view video. The encoder receives N temporally synchronized video streams and generates one bitstream. The decoder receives the bitstream, decodes and outputs the N video signals. Multi-view video contains a large amount of inter-view statistical dependencies, since all cameras capture the same scene from different viewpoints. Therefore, combined temporal and inter-view prediction is the key for efficient MVC. Also, pictures of neighboring cameras can be used for efficient prediction [35]. MVC supports the direct coding of multiple views and exploits inter-camera redundancy to reduce the bitrate. Although MVC is more efficient than simulcast, the rate of MVC encoded video is proportional to the number of views.

The MVC group in the JVT has chosen the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC-based multi-view video method as its MVC video reference model, since this method supports better coding efficiency than H.264/AVC simulcast coding. H.264/MPEG-4 AVC was developed jointly by ITU-T and ISO through the JVT in the early 2000s (the ITU-T H.264 standard and the ISO/IEC MPEG-4 AVC, ISO/IEC 14496-10-MPEG-4 Part 10 are jointly maintained to retain identical technical content). H.264 is used with Blu-ray Disc and videos from the iTunes Store. The standardization of H.264/AVC was completed in 2003, but additional extensions have taken place since then; for example, SVC as specified in Annex G of H.264/AVC added in 2007.

Owing to the increased data volume of multi-view video, highly efficient compression is needed. In addition to the redundancy exploited in 2D video for compression, the common idea for MVC is to further exploit the redundancy
between adjacent views. This is because multi-view video is captured by multiple cameras at different positions and significant correlations exist between neighbor views [36]. As hinted elsewhere, there is interest in being able to synthesize novel views from the virtual cameras in multi-view camera configurations; however, the occlusion problem can significantly affect the quality of virtual view rendering [37]. Also, for FVV, the depth map quality is important because it is used to render virtual views that are further apart than with the stereoscopic case: when the views are further apart, the distortion in the depth map has a greater effect on the final rendered quality—this implies that the data rate of the depth map has to be higher than in the CSV case.

Note: Most existing MVC techniques are based on the traditional hybrid DCTbased video coding schemes. These neither fully exploit the redundancy among different views nor provide an easy way of implementation for scalabilities. In
addition, all the existing MVC schemes mentioned above use DCT-based coding. A fundamental problem for DCT-based block coding is that it is not convenient to achieve scalability, which has become a more and more important feature for video coding and communications. As a research topic, wavelet-based image and video coding has been proved to be a good way to achieve both, good coding performance and full scalabilities including spatial, temporal, and Signal-To-Noise Ratio (SNR) scalabilities. In the past, MVC has been included in several video coding standards such as MPEG-2 MVP, and MPEG-4 MAC (Multiple Auxiliary Component). More recently, an H.264-based MVC scheme has been developed that utilizes the multiple reference structure in H.264. Although this method does exploit the correlations
between adjacent views through inter-view prediction, it has some constraints for practical applications compared to a method that uses, say, wavelets [36].

As just noted, MPEG has developed a suite of international standards to support 3D services and devices. In 2009 MPEG initiated a new phase of standardization to be completed by 2011. MPEG’s vision is a new 3DV format that goes beyond the capabilities of existing standards to enable both, advanced stereoscopic display processing and improved support for autostereoscopic N -view displays, while enabling interoperable 3D services. 3DV aims to improve rendering capability of 2D + depth format while reducing bitrate requirements relative to simulcast and MVC. Figure B3.1 illustrates ISO MPEG’s target of 3DV format illustrating limited camera inputs and constrained rate transmission

Target of 3D video format for ongoing MPEG standardization initiatives.

according to a distribution environment. The 3DV data format aims to be capable of rendering a large number of output views for autostereoscopic N -view displays and support advanced stereoscopic processing. Owing to limitations in
the production environment, the 3DV data format is assumed to be based on limited camera inputs; stereo content is most likely, but more views might also be available. In order to support a wide range of autostereoscopic displays, it should be possible for a large number of views to be generated from this data format. Additionally, the rate required for transmitting the 3DV format should be fixed to the distribution constraints; that is, there should not be an increase in the rate simply because the display requires a higher number of views to cover a larger viewing angle. In this way, the transmission rate and the number of output views are decoupled. Advanced stereoscopic processing that requires view generation at the display would also be supported by this format [33].

Compared to the existing coding formats, the 3DV format has several advantages in terms of bit rate and 3D rendering capabilities; this is also illustrated in Fig. B3.2 [33].

  • 2D + depth, as specified by ISO/IEC 23002-3, is only capable of rendering a limited depth range since it does not directly handle occlusions. The 3DV format is expected to enhance the 3D rendering capabilities beyond this format.
  • MVC is more efficient than simulcast but the rate of MVC encoded video is proportional to the number of views. The 3DV format is expected to significantly reduce the bitrate needed to generate the required views at the receiver.

Illustration of 3D rendering capability versus bit rate for different formats.

Scalable Video Coding (SVC)

The concept of the SVC scheme is to enable the encoding of a video stream that contains one (or several) subset bitstream(s) of a lower spatial or temporal resolution (that is, lower quality video signal)—each separately or in
combination—compared to the bitstream it is derived from (e.g., the subset bitstream is typically derived by dropping packets from the larger bitstream), that can itself (themselves) be decoded with a complexity and reconstruction quality
comparable to that achieved by using the existing coders (e.g., H.264/MPEG-4 AVC) with the same quantity of data as in the subset bitstream. A standard for SVC was recently being worked on by the ISO MPEG Group, and was completed in 2008. The SVC project was undertaken under the auspices of the JVT of the ISO/IEC MPEG and the ITU-T VCEG. In January 2005, MPEG and VCEG agreed to develop a standard for SVC, to become as an amendment of the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standard. It is now an extension, Annex G, of the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression standard.

A subset bitstream may encompass a lower temporal or spatial resolution (or possibly a lower quality video signal, say with a camera of lower quality) as compared to the bitstream it is derived from.

  • Temporal (Frame Rate) Scalability: the motion compensation dependencies are structured so that complete pictures (specifically packets associated with these pictures) can be dropped from the bitstream. (Temporal scalability is already available in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC but SVC provides supplemental information to ameliorate its usage.)
  • Spatial (Picture Size) Scalability: video is coded at multiple spatial resolutions. The data and decoded samples of lower resolutions can be used to predict data or samples of higher resolutions in order to reduce the bitrate to code the higher resolutions.
  • Quality Scalability: video is coded at a single spatial resolution but at different qualities. In this case the data and samples of lower qualities can be utilized to predict data or samples of higher qualities—this is done in order to reduce the bitrate required to code the higher qualities.

Products supporting the standard (e.g., for video conferencing) started to appear in 2008.

Scalable Multi-View Video Coding (SMVC).

Although there are many approaches published on SVC and MVC, there is no current work reported on scalable multi-view video coding (SMVC). SMVC can be used for transport of multi-view video over IP for interactive 3DTV by dynamic adaptive combination of temporal, spatial, and SNR scalability according to network conditions [38].

Conclusion

Table B3.1 based on Ref. [39] indicates how the “better-known” compression algorithms can be applied, and what some of the trade-offs in quality are (this study was done in the context of mobile delivery of 3DTV, but the concepts are similar in general). In this study, four methods for transmission and compression/ coding of stereo video content were analyzed. Subjective ratings show that the mixed resolution approach and the video plus depth approach do not impair
video quality at high bitrates; at low bitrates simulcast transmission is outperformed by the other methods. Objective quality metrics, utilizing the blurred or rendered view from uncompressed data as reference, can be used for optimization of single methods (they cannot be used for comparison of methods since they have a positive or negative bias). Further research of individual methods will include combinations like inter-view prediction for mixed resolution coding and depth representation at reduced resolution.

In conclusion, the V + D format is considered by researchers to be a good candidate to represent stereoscopic video that is suitable for most of the 3D displays currently available; MV + D (and the MVC standard) can be used for holographic displays and for FVV, where the user, as noted, can interactively select his or her viewpoint and where the view is then synthesized from the closest spatially located captured views [40]. However, for the initial deployment one will likely see (in order of likelihood).

  • spatial compression in conjunction with MPEG-4/AVC;
  • H.264/AVC stereo SEI message;
  • MVC, which is an H.264/MPEG-4 AVC extension.

Application of Compression Algorithms