Rate-distortion and complexity optimized motion estimation for H.264 video coding
Ateş, Hasan Fehmi
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11.264 video coding standard supports several inter-prediction coding modes that use macroblock (MB) partitions with variable block sizes. Rate-distortion (R-D) optimal selection of both the motion vectors (MVs) and the coding mode of each MB is essential for an H.264 encoder to achieve superior coding efficiency. Unfortunately, searching for optimal MVs of each possible subblock incurs a heavy computational cost. In this paper, in order to reduce the computational burden of integer-pel motion estimation (ME) without sacrificing from the coding performance, we propose a R-D and complexity joint optimization framework. Within this framework, we develop a simple method that determines for each MB which partitions are likely to be optimal. MV search is carried out for only the selected partitions, thus reducing the complexity of the ME step. The mode selection criteria is based on a measure of spatiotemporal activity within the MB. The procedure minimizes the coding loss at a given level of computational complexity either for the full video sequence or for each single frame. For the latter case, the algorithm provides a tight upper bound on the worst case complexity/execution time of the ME module. Simulation results show that the algorithm speeds up integer-pel ME by a factor of up to 40 with less than 0.2 dB loss in coding efficiency.