A two-stage approach for robust HEVC coding and streaming

The increased compression ratios achieved by the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard lead to reduced robustness of coded streams, with increased susceptibility to network errors and consequent video quality degradation. This paper proposes a method based on a two-stage approach to improve the error robustness of HEVC streaming, by reducing temporal error propagation in case of frame loss. The prediction mismatch that occurs at the decoder after frame loss is reduced through the following two stages: (i) at the encoding stage, the reference pictures are dynamically selected based on constraining conditions and Lagrangian optimisation, which distributes the use of reference pictures, by reducing the number of prediction units (PUs) that depend on a single reference; (ii) at the streaming stage, a motion vector (MV) prioritisation algorithm, based on spatial dependencies, selects an optimal sub-set of MVs to be transmitted, redundantly, as side information to reduce mismatched MV predictions at the decoder. The simulation results show that the proposed method significantly reduces the effect of temporal error propagation. Compared to the reference HEVC, the proposed reference picture selection method is able to improve the video quality at low packet loss rates (e.g., 1%) using the same bitrate, achieving quality gains up to 2.3 dB for 10% of packet loss ratio. It is shown, for instance, that the redundant MVs are able to boost the performance achieving quality gains of 3 dB when compared to the reference HEVC, at the cost using 4% increase in total bitrate.