Temporal Coherency in Video Tone Mapping
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One of the main goals of digital imagery is to improve the capture and the reproduction of real or synthetic scenes on display devices with restricted capabilities. Standard imagery techniques are limited with respect to the dynamic range that they can capture and reproduce. High Dynamic Range (HDR) imagery aims at overcoming these limitations by capturing, representing and displaying the physical value of light measured in a scene. However, current commercial displays will not vanish instantly hence backward compatibility between HDR content and those displays is required. This compatibility is ensured through an operation called tone mapping that retargets the dynamic range of HDR content to the restricted dynamic range of a display device. Although many tone mapping operators exist, they focus mostly on still images. The challenges of tone mapping HDR videos are more complex than those of still images since the temporal dimensions is added. In this work, the focus was on the preservation of temporal coherency when performing video tone mapping. Two main research avenues are investigated: the subjective quality of tone mapped video content and their compression efficiency. Indeed, tone mapping independently each frame of a video sequence leads to temporal artifacts. Those artifacts impair the visual quality of the tone mapped video sequence and need to be reduced. Through experimentations with HDR videos and Tone Mapping Operators (TMOs), we categorized temporal artifacts into six categories. We tested video tone mapping operators (techniques that take into account more than a single frame) for the different types of temporal artifact and we observed that they could handle only three out of the six types. Consequently, we designed a post-processing technique that adapts to any tone mapping operator and reduces the three types of artifact not dealt with. A subjective evaluation reported that our technique always preserves or increases the subjective quality of tone mapped content for the sequences and TMOs tested. The second topic investigated was the compression of tone mapped video content. So far, work on tone mapping and video compression focused on optimizing a tone map curve to achieve high compression ratio. These techniques changed the rendering of the video to reduce its entropy hence removing any artistic intent or constraint on the final results. That is why, we proposed a technique that reduces the entropy of a tone mapped video without altering its rendering. Our method adapts the quantization to increase the correlation between successive frames. Results showed an average bit-rate reduction under the same PSNR ranging from 5.4% to 12.8%.