IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging 2003
Conference paper

Efficient MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 video transcoding

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An efficient MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 video transcoder is presented in this paper. We consider the transcoding from high quality and bit rate MPEG-2 video with larger image size (e.g. 4CIF/4SIF, CIF) to lower quality and bit rate MPEG-4 video with smaller image size (e.g. CIF, QCIF). First, the transcoder needs to down-sample the input MPEG-2 video. Since the motion vectors carried by the MPEG-2 stream will be reused in the transcoding process, they are sub-sampled besides the frame pixels, and the coding mode for each down-sampled macroblock is examined. A new rate control method is proposed to convert the high bit rate MPEG-2 video to the low bit rate MPEG-4 counterpart. The proposed rate control scheme adjusts the frame rate and the frame quantization step size simultaneously according to the channel bandwidth to achieve a good temporal-spatial quality tradeoff. Due to the reuse of motion vectors, key frames (i.e. I and P frames) cannot be skipped to maintain the prediction sequential order, while some B frames containing less temporal information may be skipped in transcoding to save the bit rate. Skipped B frames can be reconstructed at the decoder to ensure the full frame rate playback. The TM7 quadratic Rate-Qtz model is adopted in the proposed rate control scheme to calculate the re-quantization step size from the given target bit. Simulations show that the proposed MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 video transcoder with rate control can out-perform the basic MPEG transcoder that adjusts the re-quantization step size at a constant frame rate. The complexity of the proposed transcoder is low so that it can be used in real-time applications.