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The recently developed H.264/AVC video codec with scalable video coding (SVC) extension, compresses non-scalable (single-layer) and scalable video significantly more efficiently than MPEG-4 Part 2. Since the traffic characteristics of encoded video have a significant impact on its network transport, we examine the bit rate-distortion and bit rate variability-distortion performance of single-layer video traffic of the H.264/AVC codec and SVC extension using long CIF resolution videos. We also compare the traffic characteristics of the hierarchical B frames (SVC) versus classical B frames. In addition, we examine the impact of frame size smoothing on the video traffic to mitigate the effect of bit rate variabilities. We find that compared to MPEG-4 Part 2, the H.264/AVC codec and SVC extension achieve lower average bit rates at the expense of significantly increased traffic variabilities that remain at a high level even with smoothing. Through simulations we investigate the implications of this increase in rate variability on (i) frame losses when transmitting a single video, and (ii) on a bufferless statistical multiplexing scenario with restricted link capacity and information loss. We find increased frame losses, and rate-distortion/rate-variability/encoding complexity tradeoffs. We conclude that solely assessing bit rate-distortion improvements of video encoder technologies is not sufficient to predict the performance in specific networked application scenarios.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2008