Rate-distortion hint tracks for adaptive video streaming

Jacob Chakareski, John G. Apostolopoulos, Susie Wee, Wai Tian Tan, Bernd Girod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


We present a technique for low-complexity rate-distortion (R-D) optimized adaptive video streaming based on the concept of rate-distortion hint track (RDHT). RDHTs store the precompiled characteristics of a compressed media source that are crucial for high performance online streaming but difficult to compute in real time. This enables low-complexity adaptation to variations in transport conditions such as available data rate or packet loss. An RDHT-based streaming system has three components: 1) information that summarizes the R-D attributes of the media; 2) an algorithm for using the RDHT to predict the distortion for a feasible packet schedule; and 3) a method for determining the best packet schedule to adapt the streaming to the communication channel. A family of distortion models, denoted distortion chains, are presented which accurately predict the distortion produced by arbitrary packet loss patterns. Two distortion chain models are examined which lead to two RDHT-based techniques. We evaluate the proposed techniques for two canonical problems in streaming media, adaptation to available data rate and to packet loss. Experimental results demonstrate that for the difficult case of nonscalably coded H.264 video, the proposed systems provide significant performance gains over conventional low-complexity streaming systems, and achieve this gain with a comparable level of complexity making them suitable for online R-D optimized streaming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1269
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Media Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Distortion modeling
  • Hint track (HT)
  • Low-complexity
  • Multimedia streaming
  • Rate-distortion (R-D)
  • Video adaptation
  • Video coding


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