IST WCAM PROJECT: SMART AND SECURE VIDEO CODING
BASED ON CONTENT DETECTION
J. MEESSEN, C. PARISOT AND J-F. DELAIGLE
7000 Mons, Belgium
E-mail: Jerome.meessen@ multitel.be
C. LEBARZ AND D. NICHOLSON
Boulevard de Valmy
E-mail: Didier.nicholson@ fr.thalesgroup.com
This paper proposes an integrated solution for smart delivery of video surveillance data.
The system is developed within the IST project WCAM "Wireless Cameras and Audio-
Visual Seamless Networking" which is presented as well . The main feature of our
system is it includes smart video coding based on automatic scene analysis and
understanding. Specifically, the segmentation results are used for encoding regions of
interest (ROI) in Motion JPEG 2000 guarantying good quality for the semantically
relevant objects while keeping a low average data rate. Evaluation of different strategies
for JPEG 2000 ROI encoding based on segmentation is presented. We propose a ROI
coding strategy optimising the overall quality of the frames while keeping the average
data rate low enough for wireless video transmission.
One critical issue when transmitting video surveillance data is to guaranty
acceptable visual quality for the semantically relevant objects or events while
keeping the wireless conditions into account, i.e. restricted bandwidth and
transmission errors. Therefore, WCAM IST European project has linked image
analysis tools to the video encoding. This guaranties optimal quality on the
objects of interest that may appear in the video. Since usually only mobile
objects are important in video surveillance, the WCAM system will include
image analysis tools such as segmentation and object tracking for both vehicles
and people. As an example, change detection based on frame difference 
and/or reference images and segmentation using shape, colour or texture analysis
will output active frames and region of interest (ROI) that need to be encoded
with better quality and described by means of metadata, in the MPEG-7
2 IST WCAM objectives
The goal of the WCAM project is to study, develop and validate a wireless,
seamless and secured end-to-end networked audio-visual system. This new
project, started in January 2004, focuses on the technology convergence between
video surveillance and multimedia content distribution over the Internet.
Therefore, in this IST project, the video content is encoded in emerging content
formats: Motion JPEG 2000 and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, and transmitted through
wireless LAN to different types of decoding platforms like PDA’s and Set Top
Boxes. While robust wireless transmission is taken into account, the video
content will also be secured using a Digital Right Management system (DRM).
Privacy issues are also addressed by selective protection of sensitive frame
3 Automatic Scene Analysis
The goal of the scene analysis module is to detect and track regions of
interest of the video stream in order to both generate metadata describing the
relevant events for the surveillance application and provide information for the
coding module optimization. Examples of data that can be exploited by the
coding module (either Motion JPEG2000 or H.264) include the masks of the
detected objects in each frame, an estimation of the correspondence between
objects of two consecutive frames and an estimation of the objects motion in
order to reduce the block-matching complexity of H.264. These data can be used
to optimize the coding process complexity but more than that, to optimize the
video stream coding representation.
Regions of interest are found with a real-time statistical segmentation
module. The algorithm is based on a mixture of Gaussians modeling of the
luminance for each pixel of the background [10,11,12]. The main advantage of
this technique is that it can automatically deal with backgrounds that have
multiple states (cyclic states such as blinking lights, grass and trees moving in
the wind, acquisition noise…). Furthermore, the background model update is
done in an unsupervised manner when the scene conditions are changing
(lighting conditions in outdoor applications, increase or decrease of the
background states number for each pixel independently…). Then, common
algorithms such as erosion, dilatation, contour closing and labeling are used to
get more accurate segmentation masks and high-level description of the objects
shape and position in the scene.
The metadata resulting from the automatic scene analysis are stored in
compliance with the MPEG-7 description scheme in order to be transmitted to
the user when necessary (alarm messages) or on demand. These metadata can
also be stored for off line video content browsing or retrieval though this is not
directly addressed by our project.
4 Smart Regions-of-Interest Coding in JPEG2000
JPEG 2000  is the most recent from the international standards
developed by the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG). JPEG 2000 defines
an image compression system that allows great flexibility not only for the
compression of images but also for the access to the codestream. A key aspect of
JPEG2000 is the flexible bit stream structure of the compressed images. This
flexibility allows to access to different representations of an image following its
scalability features (resolution, quality, position and image component) and the
region of interest (ROI) feature. The JPEG 2000 ROI coding  allows to give
more quality to important parts of the image. These privileged areas can be of
arbitrary shape thanks if we used the so called max-shift method.
When encoding a ROI with the max-shift method, an upshift of the wavelet
coefficients bits corresponding to this region is realised, in such a way these
coefficients will be located above the maximum value of the background wavelet
coefficients. The shape of the ROI is not described in the JPEG2000 codestream;
only the value of the shift is transmitted. The upshift of the wavelet coefficients
corresponds to a local increase of the dynamic range of these coefficients, and its
value is determined by the maximum value of coefficients after the discrete
The JPEG 2000 proposed rate allocation method is based upon a Lagrangian
rate/distorsion optimisation. Due to their high dynamic range, all of the wavelet
coefficients of the foreground (i.e. the ROI) are then prioritised.
One drawback of this method is that it is not possible to specify the rate to get a
ROI and a background with a targeted quality, especially for high compression
ratio. For high compression ratios, it can happen that the background is even not
present anymore while still having a lossless compressed foreground.
Some methods that are not using the max-shift, but a flexible organisation of
JPEG 2000 codestream, have been already proposed, see . In these
methods, some selected information from JPEG 2000 codeblocks corresponding
to the ROI are selected for being included in one or several first quality layers,
while the remaining information corresponding to the background is placed in
the following quality layer(s).
In the context of the WCAM project, both methods (max-shift and local
allocation) have been implemented and compared. As a result, a third method
combining the two approaches has been also studied which allows a more
precise control of the rate and the prioritisation through quality layers, while
keeping, for the RO,I the spatial precision of the max-shift method.
From the original video sequence (Figure 1a), a segmentation mask is
automatically generated (Figure 1b). This mask is used to define ROI, which are
coded with better quality than the background. Figure 1c shows the mobile ROI
when no data from the background is included. Figure 1d shows the result of the
ROI coding (Lossless ROI within low quality background).
Figure 1: Smart Region of Interest coding using segmentation mask
5 Smart coding results
In the following results, two rate allocations have been performed: one for the
background and another one for the ROI. This means that there are two quality
layers, the first containing mainly ROI information and the second one, the
In the case of local allocation, the limits of the ROI are matched on code-block
limits (see Figure 2a). On one hand, in order to get good compression
performance, the number of decomposition level as well as the code-block size
must be high. But on the other hand, in order to obtain a spatially precise ROI,
the minimum size for code-block as well as a limited number of decomposition
levels must be used. The clear advantage of the local allocation is to allow a
precise control of the rate allocated to foreground and background.
It is possible to improve this method by combining it with max-shift (see Figure
2b). This allows getting the spatial precision of the max-shift while allowing the
control of the foreground and background quality. In the latter, we call this
combined method max-shift with local allocation.
Figure 2 – Coded Region Of Interest (Decoding of the first quality layer only)
a) Local rate allocation method, b) Local rate allocation method and max-shift,
c) Original test image, d) Segmentation mask
In the following curves, max-shift method, as proposed in the JPEG 2000
standard, as well as local allocation without and with max-shift have been
compared to a JPEG 2000 encoding without ROI. Results are given separately
for the complete image (Figure 3), the ROI (Figure 4) and the background.
Figure 3: Total image compression efficiency
Figure 4: Region Of Interest compression efficiency
Figure 5: Figure 6: Background compression efficiency
It can be observed that as the ROI is small compared to the total image size, the
performances obtained for the background and the overall image are very
similar. We see also that max-shift allows to keep a very high quality for the
segmented objects with a low impact on the background quality. Nevertheless
with larger objects, and using max-shift only, the quality of the background is
lower than with other methods. The proposed method combining max-shift and
local allocation control, achieves the same performance as max-shift only, while
allowing rate control for both foreground and background.
WCAM has also provided to the JPEG standardization group new video
sequences for the Motion JPEG 2000 conformance tests. These sequences
include ROI’s issued from an automatic scene analysis. Demonstration
sequences presented in this paper will be publicly available on the WCAM
project’s website .
6 Conclusions and future work
We presented the scope and current results of the IST WCAM project. Study on
JPEG 2000 ROI coding achieved within this project has been described. We
have shown that the standard max shift method combined with a local rate
allocation for the background improves the visual quality of the decoded frames
while keeping the average data rate low enough for efficient wireless
Future works include optimising the coding and transmission of H.264 video
data as well as addressing security and privacy issued based on content analysis.
This work has been funded by the EU commission in the scope of the FP6 IST-
2003-507204 project WCAM "Wireless Cameras and Audio-Visual Seamless
Networking". The video sequence used for the results presented in this document
(speedway test sequence) have been generated by the Université Catholique de
Louvain, in the context of the past ACTS project MODEST.
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