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Multiple description coding offers interesting solutions for error resilient multimedia communications as well as for distributed streaming applications. In this letter, we propose a scheme based on H.264/AVC for encoding of image sequences into multiple descriptions. The pictures are split into multiple coding threads. Redundant pictures are inserted periodically in order to increase the resilience to loss and to reduce the error propagation. They are produced with different reference frames than the corresponding primary pictures. We show, given the channel conditions, how to optimally allocate the rates to primary and redundant pictures, such that the total distortion at the receiver is minimized. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed scheme outperforms baseline solutions based on loss and content-adaptive intra coding. Finally, we show how to further reduce the distortion by efficient combination of primary and redundant pictures, if both are available at the decoder.