On Visual Masking Estimation For Adaptive Quantization Using Steerable Filters

SIGNAL PROCESSING-IMAGE COMMUNICATION(2021)

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Abstract
A fast and accurate assessment of visual masking effects is desirable while encoding in order to utilize such effects to improve the quality of compressed videos through an adaptive quantization (AQ) scheme. Here, we propose a method of estimating the contrast masking threshold on natural scene patches, using texture cues imparted by steerable filter responses. We then employ the estimated thresholds to perform AQ for AV1 encoding. Our experimental results establish that the proposed method is able to outperform existing visual masking models in terms of estimation performance while being relatively computationally inexpensive than these models, and is also able to improve the variance based AQ algorithm that is currently deployed in the SVT-AV1 codec. Using the multi-scale structural similarity index measure (MS-SSIM) as the quality model, our approach achieves an average BD-rate of-1.82% using the uniform quantization scheme as anchor as compared to 5.83% obtained with the variance based method. We note that the proposed approach produces less visible compression artifacts than the variance based AQ approach at lower bitrates, while maintaining similar encoding complexity.
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Key words
Adaptive quantization, Steerable filtering, Visual masking, AV1
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