(19)
(11)EP 2 866 448 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
30.03.2016 Bulletin 2016/13

(21)Application number: 15151228.2

(22)Date of filing:  30.07.2010
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04N 17/00  (2006.01)

(54)

Method and apparatus for temporally synchronizing the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder

Verfahren und Vorrichtung zur vorübergehenden Synchronisierung des Eingangsbitstromes eines Videodecodierers mit der durch den Videodecodierer decodierten verarbeiteten Videosequenz

Procédé et appareil pour la synchronisation temporelle du flux binaire d'entrée d'un décodeur vidéo avec la séquence vidéo traitée, décodée par le décodeur vidéo


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.04.2015 Bulletin 2015/18

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
10171454.1 / 2413612

(73)Proprietor: Deutsche Telekom AG
53113 Bonn (DE)

(72)Inventors:
  • Argyropoulos, Savvas
    10585 Berlin (DE)
  • Feiten, Bernhard
    13437 Berlin (DE)
  • Garcia, Marie-Neige
    10249 Berlin (DE)
  • List, Peter
    64859 Eppertshausen (DE)
  • Raake, Alexander
    10405 Berlin (DE)

(74)Representative: Vossius & Partner Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte mbB 
Siebertstrasse 3
81675 München
81675 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2008/034632
US-A1- 2003 179 740
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Field of the Invention



    [0001] The invention relates to methods and apparatuses for temporally synchronizing the input video bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder.

    Background of the Invention



    [0002] The proliferation of video communication applications over the last years has necessitated the development of robust video quality measures to assess the Quality of Experience (QoE), defined as the service quality perceived by the user. The assessment of video quality is a critical aspect for the efficient designing, planning, and monitoring of services by the content providers.

    [0003] Nowadays, hybrid video quality assessment models/systems use a combination of packet information, bit stream information and the decoded reconstructed image. In general, in a hybrid video quality assessment algorithm the features extracted or calculated from the bit stream (e.g., motion vectors, macroblock types, transform coefficients, quantization parameters, etc.), and the information extracted by packet headers (e.g., bit rate, packet loss, delay, etc.) are combined with the features extracted from the output reconstructed images in the pixel domain. However, if the former features do not temporally correspond to the latter due to loss of temporal alignments, then the evaluation of quality would not be accurate. Thus, the first step in every hybrid video quality assessment algorithm is the synchronisation of the video bit stream with the decoded reconstructed images.

    [0004] A block diagram of a hybrid video quality assessment system is depicted in Fig. 1. At the end-user side, a probe device captures the incoming bit stream, and then parses and analyses it in order to extract and compute some features. These features are input to the module which is responsible for the temporal synchronization of the video bit stream with the output video sequence.

    [0005] Moreover, the decoding device, e.g., the set-top-box (STB), decodes the received bit stream and generates the processed video sequence (PVS) which is displayed by the output device. The PVS is also input to the module which is responsible for the temporal synchronization so that it can be temporally aligned with the video bit stream.

    [0006] In general, the main reason for temporal misalignment between the bit stream and the PVS is the delay. When the video stream is transmitted over a best-effort network, such as the Internet, the arrival time of each packet is not constant and may vary significantly. The variability over time of the packet latency across a network is called jitter. To ensure a smooth playback of the sequence without jerkiness, most video systems employ a de-jitter buffer. The received bit stream is written to the input buffer based on the arrival time of each packet, and the picture data corresponding to a frame are read out of it into the decoder at predetermined time intervals corresponding to the frame period. The display timing of each picture is determined by the timestamp field recorded in the packet header. That is, the timestamp value corresponds to the delay time period which elapses from the detection of picture start code until the picture display timing.

    [0007] In the above described video decoding system, the display timing of each video frame is determined according to the data which is included in the video bit stream for determination of the display timing. Since the time for the display of a frame is not fixed, the PVS can not always be matched exactly to the original bit stream.

    [0008] In the literature, the problem of temporal alignment between a source and a distorted video sequence has been previously studied and is also referred to as video registration. In M. Barkowsky, R. Bitto, J. Bialkowski, and A. Kaup, "Comparison of matching strategies for temporal frame registration in the perceptual evaluation of video quality, Proc. of the Second International Workshop on Video Processing and Quality Metrics for Consumer Electronics, Jan. 2006 , a comparison between block matching and phase correlation for video registration is presented and examined in terms of performance and complexity. Also, a frame-matching algorithm to account for frame removal, insertion, shuffling, and data compression was presented in Y. Y. Lee, C. S. Kim, and S. U. Lee, "Video frame-matching algorithm using dynamic programming," Journal of Electronic Imaging, SPIE, 2009, based on the minimization of a matching cost function using dynamic programming. In J. Lu, "Fast video temporal alignment estimation," (US-B1-6 751 360), a fast temporal alignment estimation method for temporally aligning a distorted video with a corresponding source video for video quality measurements was presented. Each video sequence is transformed into a signature curve by calculating a data-point for each frame as a cross-correlation between two subsequent frames. The temporal misalignment of the distorted video is then determined by finding the maximum value of the normalized cross-correlation between the signature curves of the examined video sequences. Another method for identifying the spatial, temporal, and histogram correspondence between two video sequences is described in H. Cheng, "Video registration based on local prediction errors," (US-B2-7 366 361). The PVS is aligned to the reference video sequence by generating a mapping from a selected set of one or more original frames to the processed set so that each mapping minimizes a local prediction error. In K. Ferguson, "Systems and methods for robust video temporal registration," (US-A-2008/0253689), frame and sub-image distillation measurements are produced from the reference and test video sequences. Then, they are linearly aligned using local Pearson's cross-correlation coefficient between frames. Finally, in C. Souchard, "Spatial and temporal alignment of video sequences," (US-A-2007/0097266), a motion function is defined to describe the motion of a set of pixels between the frames of the test and the reference video sequence and a transform is used to align the two images.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0009] It is the object of the invention to provide a method and apparatus to temporally align the input video bit stream of a video decoder, e.g. a set-top-box (STB), with the processed video sequence (PVS) and enable their synchronization. This object is achieved with the features of the claims.

    [0010] According to a first aspect, one example provides a method for temporally synchronizing the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the method comprising the steps of:
    1. a) capturing the input bit stream and supplying it to a bit stream analyzer;
    2. b) parsing and analyzing the captured input bit stream by the bit stream analyzer;
    3. c) decoding the input bit stream and providing reconstructed images Nrec therefrom;
    4. d) storing the reconstructed images Nrec in a buffer; and
    5. e) comparing a processed video sequence received from the output side of the video decoder with each of the stored reconstructed images, to find a matching frame n from the set of reconstructed images in the buffer.


    [0011] The method may further comprises the step f) of supplying the matching frame n* and its corresponding part of the bit steam to a video quality assessment unit. The video quality assessment unit may estimate a subjective quality score based on the obtained information from the bit stream and the processed video sequence.

    [0012] Step b) of the method may further comprise extracting, from the bit stream, for each image the packets that have been lost due to transmission errors and the corresponding areas within each frame that have been affected by the packet loss; and an error propagation map based on the motion vectors and macro block types, which denotes which pixels of each frame reference an erroneous region for their prediction and are thus prone to have been impacted by the packet loss.

    [0013] Furthermore, step e) may comprise computing a distance metric between the processed video sequence and the reconstructed image in the buffer by exploiting information extracted from the bit stream and the PVS. The information extracted from the bit stream may comprise spatial and temporal location of impairments due to packet loss.

    [0014] According to a second aspect, the invention provides a method for temporally synchronizing the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the method comprising the steps of:
    1. a) capturing the input bit stream and supplying it to a bit stream analyzer;
    2. b) analyzing the captured bit stream by the bit stream analyzer to generate error maps I(x,y,t) and a set A of pixels that have been impacted by packet loss, wherein I(x,y,t) denote the error map value at location (x,y) of the t-th frame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, and y = 0, 1,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively;
    3. c) storing, in a buffer, the error maps of reconstructed frames Nrec, being reconstructed by the bit stream analyzer; and
    4. d) comparing the stored error maps of the Nrec reconstructed frames with the corresponding error map of the current processed video sequence, to find a matching frame n* from the set of reconstructed frames in the buffer that matches the current image of the processed video sequence.


    [0015] The method may comprise step e) of supplying the matching frame n* and its corresponding part of the bit steam to a video quality assessment unit.

    [0016] It is furthermore preferred that between steps c) and d) the following steps are performed: extracting the edges of current image of the processed video sequence;
    computing the contour of the edges that are likely to belong to an area affected by the packet loss;
    comparing the edge contour of the processed video sequence with the edge contour of the error maps stored in the buffer.

    [0017] According to a third aspect, one further example provides a method for temporally synchronizing the encrypted input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the method comprising the steps of:
    1. a) supplying the encrypted input bit stream to an analysis module;
    2. b) analysing, in the analyser module, the packet header information of the encrypted input bit stream, and calculating the size and the type of the frames contained in the bit stream;
    3. c) extracting, on the basis on the calculated frame sizes and types, features that are representative of the content depicted in the video frames;
    4. d) extracting the type of content and respective features representative of the content from the pictures of the processed video sequence;
    5. e) comparing the features extracted in step d) from the current picture of the processed video sequence with the features extracted in step c) from the analysed frames to find a matching frame n*.


    [0018] The features extracted in steps c) and d) are preferably time-varying features, and these steps may be performed in the pixel domain.

    [0019] According to a preferred embodiment, the feature and time-alignment for matching frame n* is further input to a video quality assessment module.

    [0020] Step b) may further detect frames that have been affected by the packet loss, and may further comprise the steps of:

    f) examining the current picture of the processed video sequence for artifacts generated due to packet losses; and

    g) matching of the processed video sequence with the corresponding frame of the bit stream, wherein, if the current picture of the processed video sequence was detected in step f) to contain artefacts that were inserted as a result of a packet loss, then that picture is matched with the part of the bit stream corresponding to the frame which was found in step b) to contain the packet loss.



    [0021] A further aspect of an example relates to an apparatus for temporally aligning the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the apparatus comprising:

    a bit stream analyzer receiving the input bit stream, the bit stream analyzer being configured for parsing and analyzing the input bit stream, and

    a synchronization module being configured for aligning the analyzed bit stream with the processed video sequence,

    the synchronization module comprising:

    a decoder receiving from the bit stream analyzer the analyzed bit stream, and configured to provide therefrom reconstructed images Nrec,

    a buffer being configured to store said reconstructed images Nrec from said decoder so that the output image represented by the processed video sequence can be compared to this specific number of previously reconstructed images, and

    a pixel-domain comparison unit receiving the analyzed bit stream from the bit stream analyzer, the reconstructed images from the buffer, and the processed video sequence, the comparison unit being configured to

    compare the processed video sequence with each one of the reconstructed images in the buffer, and

    determine the best matching image in the video buffer.



    [0022] The apparatus preferably comprises a video quality assessment module which combines information from the bit stream and the processed video sequence to evaluate the quality of the video sequence. The comparison unit may further be configured to compute a distance metric between the processed video sequence and the examined reconstructed image in the buffer by exploiting information extracted from the bit stream. Furthermore, the comparison unit is configured to output the best matching image to the video quality assessment module for estimating a subjective quality score based on information from the bit stream and the processed video sequence.

    [0023] It is furthermore preferred that the bit stream analyzer is configured to extract, from the bit stream, for each picture the packets that have been lost due to transmission errors and the corresponding areas within each frame that have been affected by the packet loss; and an error map based on the motion vectors and macro block types, which denotes which pixels of each frame reference an erroneous region for their prediction and are thus prone to have been impacted by the packet loss.

    [0024] According to a further aspect, the invention provides an apparatus for temporally aligning the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the apparatus comprising:

    a bit stream analyzer receiving the input bit stream, the bit stream analyzer being configured for analyzing the input bit stream for packet header information of the encrypted input bit stream, and calculating the size and the type of the frames contained in the bit stream, and

    a synchronization module being configured for aligning the analyzed bit stream with the processed video sequence,

    the synchronization module comprising:

    an extraction module receiving from the bit stream analyzer the analyzed bit stream, and configured to generate error maps I(x,y,t) and a set A of pixels that have been impacted by packet loss, wherein I(x,y,t) denote the error map value at location (x,y) of the t-th frame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, and y = 0,1,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively,

    a buffer being configured to store the error maps of reconstructed frames Nrec, being reconstructed by the bit stream analyzer, and

    an error pattern search module receiving the error maps of the reconstructed frames Nrec, from the buffer, and the corresponding error map of the processed video sequence, the error pattern search module being configured to

    compare the stored error maps of the Nrec reconstructed frames with the corresponding error map of the current processed video sequence, and to

    determine a matching frame n *from the set of reconstructed frames in the buffer that matches the current image of the processed video sequence.



    [0025] According to a further aspect, an example provides an apparatus for temporally aligning the encrypted input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the apparatus comprising:

    a bit stream analyzer receiving the encrypted input bit stream, the bit stream analyzer being configured for parsing and analyzing the input bit stream, and

    a synchronization module being configured for aligning the analyzed bit stream with the processed video sequence,

    characterized in that

    the synchronization module comprises

    an first extraction module being configured for extracting, on the basis on the calculated frame sizes and types, features that are representative of the content depicted in the video frames,

    a second extraction module being configured for extracting the type of content and respective features representative of the content from the pictures of the processed video sequence, and

    a comparison unit connected to the first extraction unit and the second extraction unit, the comparison unit being configured to

    compare the features extracted from the current picture of the processed video sequence with the features extracted from the analysed frames, and to

    determine the matching frame n*.



    [0026] Coming back to the object of the invention, it can be achieved in general terms by the provision of a device (probe) which, according to the present invention, includes a bit stream analyzer for parsing and decoding the input bit stream, a synchronization module which is responsible for temporally aligning the bit stream with the PVS.

    [0027] The device which is responsible for the temporal alignment of the video bit stream and the PVS comprises of a buffer which stores the reconstructed images which are output from the decoder. This buffer should be able to store a specific number of reconstructed images Nrec from the decoding device within the probe so that the output image can be compared to this specific number of previously reconstructed images.

    [0028] The module which is responsible for the synchronization of the PVS and the video bit stream performs the following operations:
    1. a) compares the PVS with each one of the reconstructed images in the buffer
    2. b) computes a distance metric between the PVS and the examined reconstructed image in the buffer by exploiting information extracted from the bit stream (e.g., spatial and temporal location of impairments due to packet loss)
    3. c) determines the best matching image in the video buffer and outputs it to the video quality assessment module which is responsible for estimating the subjective score MÔS based on information from the bit stream and the PVS.


    [0029] In the following, the invention will be described in more detail.

    [0030] First, a first example of temporal synchronization between the bit stream and the PVS will be described with reference to Fig. 2.

    [0031] The temporal synchronization between the bit stream and the decoded/processed video sequence consists of two steps. Initially, in the first step, the apparatus according to the invention, i.e. a probe device, captures the bit stream and feeds it to the bit stream analyzer which extracts the following information for each picture:
    1. a. the packets that have been lost due to transmission errors and the corresponding areas within each frame that have been affected by the packet loss; and
    2. b. an error propagation map based on the motion vectors and macroblock types, which denotes which pixels of each frame reference (for prediction) an erroneous region for their prediction and are thus prone to have been impacted by the packet loss.


    [0032] Let A denote the set of pixels that have been affected by the packet loss and the pixels that reference lost pixels for their prediction. Also, let I(x,y,t) denote the error map value at location (x,y) of the t-th frame, x = 1, 2, ..., M, and y = 1, 2,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively. The value for those pixels that belong to the set A is one, otherwise their value is zero. Thus:



    [0033] In other words, the set A contains all pixels that will not be identical between the processed video sequence and the reconstructed image of the decoder within the probe due to the different error concealment techniques. For this reason, all pixels belonging to set A are denoted as unavailable for the temporal alignment in the following stage. An example of the derivation of the error propagation maps is depicted in Fig. 5. The packet loss occurs in the first frame (in Fig. 5 the dark area in the picture on the right denotes the macroblocks that have been impaired due to the packet loss) and the pixels of the subsequent frames that reference the affected area of the first frame for the prediction process are computed and marked as unavailable for the synchronization process. This will assist in eliminating those pixels that may be different between the reconstructed images and the processed video sequence due to the application of different error concealment techniques between the internal video decoder of the probe and the decoder of the decoding device, e.g., the STB.

    [0034] Furthermore, the separate decoder within the probe device decodes the received bit stream, and the reconstructed pictures are stored in a buffer. The size of the buffer should be large enough to account for the delay that may be incurred by the STB. Let the maximum expected delay be d (in seconds), and let f be the frame rate of the video sequence. Then, the buffer should be able to store Nrec = d · f frames in total.

    [0035] In the second step, the processed video sequence is compared with each one of the reconstructed pictures in the buffer. The purpose of this comparison is to find a matching frame n* from the set of reconstructed pictures in the buffer, based on the following equation:

    where F'(x,y,t) is the pixel value in position (x,y) of the t-frame of the processed video picture under examination, and F(x,y,n) is the pixel in the same position of the n-th frame in the buffer of reconstructed pictures, n=0,1,..., Nrec. The multiplication of the pixel values of each picture with the error propagation map is applied in order to exclude those pixels that have been affected by the packet loss (either directly or due to error propagation) and ensure that the matching process is restricted to those pixels that are likely to be more similar between the two pictures. It must be also noted, that instead of the specific function used here (which is called sum of absolute differences, SAD) for the minimization, any similar function could be used, for example the mean-squared error.

    [0036] After the matching process is finished, the matched frame n* is removed from the buffer of the reconstructed pictures and the matched frame, along with its corresponding part of the bit stream can be further employed, e.g., to be used as input to the module which is responsible for hybrid video quality assessment.

    [0037] In the following, a second embodiment of the synchronization between the video bit stream and the decoded video sequence will be described.

    [0038] In the second embodiment of the present invention, the synchronization between the bit stream and the processed video sequence is performed by analyzing the bit stream, extracting information for the area of each frame that is affected from the packet loss, and then examining if the same pattern of errors appears in the processed video sequence. The block diagram of the overall procedure is depicted in Fig. 3.

    [0039] In the first step, the bit stream analyzer within the probe device processes and analyzes the bit stream to generate (for each frame) the error map I(.,.,.) and, thus, the set A of pixels that have been impacted by the packet loss, as defined above in the context of the first embodiment. The error maps of Nrec frames are stored in a buffer so that they can later be matched with the corresponding error maps of the processed video sequence, as explained below.

    [0040] In the following step, the macroblocks of current picture of the processed video sequence that have been impaired due to a packet loss are estimated and the error map IPVS(...) and the set APVS are generated, as defined above in the context of the first embodiment. Next, the contour of the pixels of the error map IPVS(...) is estimated The method for estimating the impaired macroblocks of the current picture and the contour of the pixels belonging to these macroblocks is out of scope of this invention, thus any method known to the skilled person could be used, for example the method proposed in G. Valenzise et. al., "Estimating channel-induced distortion in H.264/AVC video without bitstream information," QoMEX, 2010.

    [0041] The edge of the contour of the processed video sequence is to be compared with the edge of the contour of the error maps that have been previously stored in the buffer. If the matching of the contours is constrained in the area defined by the error map, which is the pixels belonging to the set A, then the edges of the contour detected from the processed video sequence are not taken into consideration. Also, since there are typically slight misinterpretations of the area detected as erroneous and the corresponding area that is detected as erroneous from the processed video sequence, the area of search is increased by k pixels to ensure that the edges of the contour detected by the decoder are not smaller than those detected in the processed video sequence. In this embodiment, k is selected to be equal to 5. However, any other value could be selected.

    [0042] Thus, the set APVS of pixels that belong to the area where the edges of the contour due to the packet loss are detected (increased as noted above) is produced, and the error map IPVS is generated. Let IPVS (x,y,t) denote the error map value of the t-th processed video sequence picture at location (x,y), x = 1, 2, ..., M, and y =1, 2,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively. Then:



    [0043] In the third step, the error map of the current picture of the processed video sequence is compared with each one of the error maps (that were generated by analyzing the bit stream in the first step) which are stored in the buffer. The purpose of this comparison is to find a matching frame n* from the set of reconstructed pictures in the buffer, that matches the current picture of the processed video sequence based on the following equation:

    where IPVS (x,y,t) is the value in position (x,y) of the t-frame of the error map of the PVS under examination, and I(x,y,n) is the pixel in the same position of the error map corresponding to the n-th frame, n=1, 2,..., Nrec.

    [0044] Finally, a hybrid video quality assessment module which combines information from the bit stream and the processed video sequence to evaluate the quality of the video sequence may be present as shown in Fig. 3.

    [0045] The function f(.,.) is a function that can be used to determine the similarity between the two error maps based on contour pattern matching. The contour-based pattern matching algorithm is out of scope of the present invention and any relevant method could be used, e.g., the method in T. Adamek, and N. O'Connor, "Efficient contour-based shape representation and matching, " in Multimedia Information Retrieval, 2003, could be used for this purpose.

    [0046] In the following, temporal synchronization between the bit stream and the decoded image of an encrypted video sequence according to a further embodiment of the invention will be described.

    [0047] The problem of frame synchronization becomes more evident when the video sequence is encrypted and the only available information for the bit stream can be extracted from the packet headers. The parameters that can be extracted from the bit stream based only on the inspection of the packet headers are the size and the type of each frame.

    Alignment based on frame-based feature matching



    [0048] The first example, of the method for synchronization between the video bit stream and the decoded image of an encrypted video sequence addresses the case where there are no packet losses in the bit stream and is shown in Fig. 4.

    [0049] In the first step, the video bit stream is fed to a module which is responsible for the analysis of the packet header information, and the calculation of the size and the type of the frames (intra, predictive, or bi-predictive). The method for the extraction of the type of frames of encrypted video based on their size is out of scope of this patent. For example, the method proposed in European Patent application no. 10 17 1431.9 of the present applicant filed on July 30, 2010 (herein incorporated by reference), could be used.

    [0050] In the second step, the information about the frame sizes and types is used in order to extract (for example time-varying) features that are representative of the content depicted in the video frames. It is obvious, that since the payload information is not available due to encryption, only an approximation of the content class can be estimated. The method for content class estimation based on frame sizes and frame types is out of scope of the present invention. Any available method for this purpose could be used, e.g., A. Clark, "Method and system for content estimation of packet video streams," WO 2009/012297 A1.

    [0051] Similarly, the type of content and respective (e.g. time-varying) features representative of the content are extracted from the pictures of the processed video sequence. Since the present invention focuses only on the synchronization aspects between the bit stream and the processed video sequence, the method for the extraction of features from the picture (in the pixel domain) and the detection of content type is not within its scope.

    [0052] In the third step, the features extracted from the current picture of the processed video sequence are matched with the features extracted from the frames which were analyzed by the packet header analysis module. Note that the corresponding feature and time-alignment can be used as input to the module which is responsible for the assessment of video quality. As shown in Fig. 4, a hybrid video quality assessment module may be present which combines information from the bit stream and the processed video sequence to evaluate the quality of the video sequence.

    Temporal alignment based on packet loss event triggering



    [0053] In this example it is assumed that the bit stream and the processed video sequence are synchronized when no errors (e.g., due to packet losses) occur, based on the method described in the previous subsection and it considers the case when synchronization is required when a packet loss is detected.

    [0054] In the first step, the video bit stream is fed to the module which is responsible for the analysis of the packet header information, the calculation of the frame types, and the detection of the frames that have been affected by the packet loss. The type of all the frames is detected and thus it is determined whether a packet loss propagates to its subsequent frames or not due the prediction process.

    [0055] In the following step, the current picture of the processed video sequence is examined for distortions that may have been generated due to packet losses. It must be noted that this algorithm should be able to classify between distortions caused by packet losses and distortions that were produced as a result of the lossy compression of the original video sequence. The algorithm for the detection and classification of distortions is out of the scope of the present invention. For example, the method in G. Valenzise et. al., "Estimating channel-induced distortion in H.264/AVC video without bitstream information," QoMEX, 2010, could be used for this purpose.

    [0056] In the third step, the matching of the processed video sequence with the corresponding frame of the bit stream is performed. If the current picture of the processed video sequence was detected to contain distortions that were caused as a result of a packet loss, then that picture is matched with the part of the bit stream corresponding to the frame which was found (in the initial step) to contain the packet loss.

    [0057] Finally, the synchronization information (that is, the current frame of the PVS along with its corresponding part of the video bit stream) is computed. This information can be forwarded as input to the module which is responsible for the assessment of video quality.

    [0058] The prior art mentioned in the above introductory part considers the problem of temporal alignment between two video sequences due to frame skipping, repetition, deletion, shuffling, and data compression that may result due to the transmission of the video sequence over an erroneous network or the processing of the sequence. On the contrary, the present invention considers only the synchronization of the processed video sequence with the bit stream at the end-user side and, thus, the only source of misalignment is the delay introduced by the decoder device and the bit stream analyzer and the different error concealment techniques applied by the decoder (STB) and the decoder within the probe device.
    Fig. 1
    shows a conventional probe device for temporal alignment of the processed video sequence with the bit stream and the decoded image data;
    Fig. 2
    shows a block diagram for the synchronization of the bit stream with the output image according to a first example;
    Fig. 3
    shows a block diagram of a second preferred embodiment of the present invention for the synchronization between the video bit stream and the processed video sequence;
    Fig. 4
    shows synchronization between the bit stream and the decoded image of an encrypted video sequence, in accordance with a further example; and
    Fig. 5
    an example of error propagation maps for subsequent frames.


    [0059] While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary and not restrictive. It will be understood that changes and modifications may be made by those of ordinary skill within the scope of the following claims.

    [0060] Furthermore, in the claims the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. A single unit may fulfil the functions of several features recited in the claims. The terms "essentially", "about", "approximately" and the like in connection with an attribute or a value particularly also define exactly the attribute or exactly the value, respectively. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.


    Claims

    1. Method for temporally synchronising the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the method comprising the steps of:

    a) capturing the input bit stream and supplying it to a bit stream analyzer;

    b) analyzing the captured bit stream by the bit stream analyzer to generate error maps I(x,y,t) and a set A of pixels that have been impacted by packet loss, wherein I(x,y,t) denote the error map value at location (x,y) of the t-th frame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, and y = 0,1,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively;

    c) storing, in a buffer, the error maps of Nrec frames, internally generated by the bit stream analyzer; and

    d) comparing the stored error maps of the Nrec reconstructed frames with the corresponding error map of the current processed video sequence, to find a matching frame n* from the set of reconstructed frames in the buffer that matches the current image of the processed video sequence.


     
    2. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step e) of supplying the matching frame n* and its corresponding part of the bit steam to a video quality assessment unit.
     
    3. The method of claim 1, wherein between steps c) and d) the following steps are performed:

    estimating the impaired macroblocks of current image of the processed video sequence;

    computing the contour of the pixels that belong to an area affected by the packet loss;

    comparing the contour of the processed video sequence with the contour of the error maps stored in the buffer.


     
    4. Apparatus for temporally synchronising the input bit stream of a video decoder with the processed video sequence decoded by the video decoder, the apparatus comprising:

    a bit stream analyzer receiving the input bit stream, the bit stream analyzer being configured for analyzing the input bit stream for packet header information of the encrypted input bit stream, and calculating the size and the type of the frames contained in the bit stream, and

    a synchronisation module being configured for synchronising the analyzed bit stream with the processed video sequence,

    the synchronisation module comprising:

    an extraction module receiving from the bit stream analyzer the analyzed bit stream, and configured to generate error maps I(x,y,t) and a set A of pixels that have been impacted by packet loss, wherein I(x,y,t) denote the error map value at location (x,y) of the t-th frame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, and y = 0,1,..., N, where M, N are the horizontal and vertical dimensions of each frame of the video sequence, respectively,

    a buffer being configured to store the error maps of Nrec frames, internally generated by the bit stream analyzer,
    and

    an error pattern search module receiving the error maps of the reconstructed frames Nrec, from the buffer, and the corresponding error map of the processed video sequence, the error pattern search module being configured to

    compare the stored error maps of the Nrec reconstructed frames with the corresponding error map of the current processed video sequence, and to

    determine a matching frame n* from the set of reconstructed frames in the buffer that matches the current image of the processed video sequence.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur zeitlichen Synchronisation des Eingangsbitstroms eines Videodekoders mit der von dem Videodekoder dekodierten verarbeiteten Videosequenz, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte aufweist:

    a) Erfassen des Eingangsbitstroms und Weiterleiten desselben an einen Bitstrom-Analysator,

    b) Analysieren des erfassten Bitstroms durch den Bitstrom-Analysator zur Erstellung von Fehlerkarten I(x,y,t) und einen Satz A von Pixeln, die von einem Paketverlust betroffen sind, wobei I(x,y,t) den Fehlerkartenwert am Ort (x,y) des t-ten Rahmens bezeichnet, x = 0, 1, ..., M, und y = 0, 1, ..., N, wobei M und N die horizontale bzw. vertikale Dimension jedes Rahmens der Videosequenz sind;

    c) Speichern der Fehlerkarten von Nrec-Rahmen, die intern von dem Bitstrom-Analysator generiert wurden, in einem Puffer und

    d) Vergleichen der gespeicherten Fehlerkarten der Nrec-rekonstruierten Rahmen mit der entsprechenden Fehlerkarte der aktuell verarbeiteten Videosequenz, um einen passenden Rahmen n* aus dem Satz von rekonstruierten Rahmen in dem Puffer zu finden, der dem aktuellen Bild der verarbeiteten Videosequenz entspricht.


     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend den Schritt e) des Weiterleitens des passenden Rahmens n* und seines entsprechenden Teils des Bitstroms an eine Videoqualitäts-Bewertungseinheit.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei zwischen den Schritten c) und d) die folgenden Schritte ausgeführt werden:

    Schätzen der beschädigten Makroblöcke des aktuellen Bilds der verarbeiteten Videosequenz,

    Berechnen der Kontur der Pixel, die zu einem von Paketverlust betroffenen Bereich gehören,

    Vergleichen der Kontur der verarbeiteten Videosequenz mit der Kontur der in dem Puffer gespeicherten Fehlerkarten.


     
    4. Vorrichtung zur zeitlichen Synchronisation des Eingangsbitstroms eines Videodekoders mit der von dem Videodekoder dekodierten verarbeiteten Videosequenz, mit:

    einem den Eingangsbitstrom empfangenden Bitstrom-Analysator, der zum Analysieren des Eingangsbitstroms auf Paketkopfinformation des verschlüsselten Eingangsbitstroms und Berechnen der Größe und der Art der im Bitstrom enthaltenen Rahmen konfiguriert ist, und

    einem Synchronisationsmodul, das zum Synchronisieren des analysierten Bitstroms mit der verarbeiteten Videosequenz konfiguriert ist,

    wobei das Synchronisationsmodul aufweist:

    ein Extraktionsmodul, das den analysierten Bitstrom von dem Bitstrom-Analysator empfängt und konfiguriert ist, Fehlerkarten I(x,y,t) und einen Satz A von Pixeln, die von Paketverlust betroffen sind, zu generieren, wobei I(x,y,t) den Fehlerkartenwert am Ort (x,y) des t-ten Rahmens bezeichnet, x = 0, 1, ..., M, und y = 0, 1, ..., N ist, wobei M und N die horizontale bzw. vertikale Dimension jedes Rahmens der Videosequenz sind;

    einen Puffer, der konfiguriert ist, die intern von dem Bitstrom-Analysator generierten Fehlerkarten der Nrec-Rahmen zu speichern, und

    ein Fehlermuster-Suchmodul, das die Fehlerkarten der rekonstruierten Rahmen Nrec von dem Puffer erhält, und die entsprechende Fehlerkarte der verarbeiteten Videosequenz, wobei das Fehlermuster-Suchmodul konfiguriert ist,

    die gespeicherten Fehlerkarten der Nrec rekonstruierten Rahmen mit der entsprechenden Fehlerkarte der aktuell verarbeiteten Videosequenz zu vergleichen und

    einen passenden Rahmen n* aus dem Satz von rekonstruierten Rahmen in dem Puffer zu bestimmen, der dem aktuellen Bild der verarbeiteten Videosequenz entspricht.


     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de synchronisation temporelle du train de bits d'entrée d'un décodeur vidéo avec la séquence vidéo traitée décodée par le décodeur vidéo, le procédé comprenant les étapes de :

    a) capture du train de bits d'entrée et fourniture de celui-ci à un analyseur de train de bits ;

    b) analyse du train de bits capturé par l'analyseur de train de bits afin de générer des cartes d'erreur I(x,y,t) et un ensemble A de pixels qui ont été impactés par une perte de paquets, dans lequel I(x,y,t) désigne la valeur de carte d'erreur à un emplacement (x,y) de la t-ième trame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, et y = 0, 1, ..., N, où M, N sont les dimensions horizontale et verticale de chaque trame de la séquence vidéo, respectivement ;

    c) stockage, dans une mémoire tampon, des cartes d'erreur des trames Nrec, générées en interne par l'analyseur de train de bits ; et

    d) comparaison des cartes d'erreur stockées des trames reconstruites Nrec avec la carte d'erreur correspondante de la séquence vidéo traitée actuelle, afin de trouver une trame concordante n* à partir de l'ensemble de trames reconstruites dans la mémoire tampon qui concorde avec l'image actuelle de la séquence vidéo traitée.


     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre l'étape e) de fourniture de la trame correspondante n* et de sa partie correspondante du train de bits à une unité d'évaluation de qualité vidéo.
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel entre les étapes c) et d), les étapes suivantes sont effectuées :

    estimation des macroblocs endommagés de l'image actuelle de la séquence vidéo traitée ;

    calcul du contour des pixels qui appartiennent à une zone affectée par la perte de paquets ;

    comparaison du contour de la séquence vidéo traitée avec le contour des cartes d'erreur stockées dans la mémoire tampon.


     
    4. Appareil de synchronisation temporelle du train de bits d'entrée d'un décodeur vidéo avec la séquence vidéo traitée décodée par le décodeur vidéo, l'appareil comprenant :

    un analyseur de train de bits recevant le train de bits d'entrée, l'analyseur de train de bits étant configuré pour analyser le train de bits d'entrée à la recherche d'informations d'entête de paquets du train de bits d'entrée crypté, et pour calculer la taille et le type des trames contenues dans le train de bits, et

    un module de synchronisation configuré pour synchroniser le train de bits analysé avec la séquence vidéo traitée,

    le module de synchronisation comprenant :

    un module d'extraction recevant de l'analyseur de train de bits le train de bits analysé, et configuré pour générer des cartes d'erreur I(x,y,t) et un ensemble A de pixels qui ont été impactés par une perte de paquets, dans lequel I(x,y,t) désigne la valeur de carte d'erreur à un emplacement (x,y) de la t-ième trame, x = 0, 1, ..., M, et y= 0, 1, ..., N,M, N sont les dimensions horizontale et verticale de chaque trame de la séquence vidéo, respectivement,

    une mémoire tampon configurée pour stocker les cartes d'erreur de trames Nrec, générées en interne par l'analyseur de train de bits ; et

    un module de recherche de modèle d'erreur recevant les cartes d'erreur des trames reconstruites Nrec à partir de la mémoire tampon, et la carte d'erreur correspondante de la séquence vidéo traitée, le module de recherche de modèle d'erreur étant configuré pour

    comparer les cartes d'erreur stockées des trames reconstruites Nrec avec la carte d'erreur correspondante de la séquence vidéo traitée actuelle, et pour

    déterminer une trame concordante n* à partir de l'ensemble de trames reconstruites dans la mémoire tampon qui concorde avec l'image actuelle de la séquence vidéo traitée.


     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description




    Non-patent literature cited in the description