Infoscience

Journal article

Low-complexity video coding for receiver-driven layered multicast

In recent years, the “Internet Multicast Backbone,” or MBone, has risen from a small, research curiosity to a large- scale and widely used communications infrastructure. A driving force behind this growth was the development of multipoint audio, video, and shared whiteboard conferencing applications. Because these real-time media are transmitted at a uniform rate to all of the receivers in the network, a source must either run at the bottleneck rate or overload portions of its multicast distribution tree. We overcome this limitation by moving the burden of rate adaptation from the source to the receivers with a scheme we call receiver-driven layered multicast, or RLM. In RLM, a source distributes a hierarchical signal by striping the different layers across multiple multicast groups, and receivers adjust their reception rate by simply joining and leaving multicast groups. In this paper, we describe a layered video compression algorithm which, when combined with RLM, provides a comprehensive solution for scalable multicast video transmission in heterogeneous networks. In addition to a layered representation, our coder has low complexity (admitting an effi- cient software implementation) and high loss resilience (admitting robust operation in loosely controlled environments like the Inter- net). Even with these constraints, our hybrid DCT/wavelet-based coder exhibits good compression performance. It outperforms all publicly available Internet video codecs while maintaining comparable run-time performance. We have implemented our coder in a “real” application—the UCB/LBL videoconferencing tool vic. Unlike previous work on layered video compression and transmission, we have built a fully operational system that is currently being deployed on a very large scale over the MBone.

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