This dissertation considers packet-switched wireless networks for transmission of variable-rate layered hybrid video streams. Target applications are video streaming and broadcasting services. The work can be divided into two main parts.
In the first part, a novel quality-scalable scheme based on coefficient refinement and encoder quality constraints is developed as a possible extension to the video coding standard H.264. After a technical introduction to the coding tools of H.264 with the main focus on error resilience features, various quality scalability schemes in previous research are reviewed. Based on this discussion, an encoder decoder framework is designed for an arbitrary number of quality layers, hereby also enabling region-of-interest coding. After that, the performance of the new system is exhaustively tested, showing that the bit rate increase typically encountered with scalable hybrid coding schemes is, for certain coding parameters, only small to moderate. The double- and triple-layer constellations of the framework are shown to perform superior to other systems.
The second part considers layered code streams as generated by the scheme of the first part. Various error propagation issues in hybrid streams are discussed, which leads to the definition of a decoder quality constraint and a segmentation of the code stream to transmit. A packetization scheme based on successive source rate consumption is drafted, followed by the formulation of the channel code rate optimization problem for an optimum assignment of available codes to the channel packets. Proper MSE-based error metrics are derived, incorporating the properties of the source signal, a terminate-on-error decoding strategy, error concealment, inter-packet dependencies, and the channel conditions. The Viterbi algorithm is presented as a low-complexity solution to the optimization problem, showing a great adaptivity of the joint source channel coding scheme to the channel conditions. An almost constant image qualiity is achieved, also in mismatch situations, while the overall channel code rate decreases only as little as necessary as the channel quality deteriorates. It is further shown that the variance of code distributions is only small, and that the codes are assigned irregularly to all channel packets.
A double-layer constellation of the framework clearly outperforms other schemes with a substantial margin.
Keywords — Digital lossy video compression, visual communication, variable bit rate (VBR), SNR scalability, layered image processing, quality layer, hybrid code stream, predictive coding, progressive bit stream, joint source channel coding, fidelity constraint, channel error robustness, resilience, concealment, packet-switched, mobile and wireless ATM, noisy transmission, packet loss, binary symmetric channel, streaming, broadcasting, satellite and radio links, H.264, MPEG-4 AVC, Viterbi, trellis, unequal error protection