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A Guide to Picture Quality Measurements for Modern Television Systems

Convergence is a popular term these days. It has many definitions and many factors depending on one's perspective and technology base. From a generalist's point of view, convergence may be defined as "the coming together of communication, computer and television technologies to provide information of any kind to any location." One of the major focal points of convergence is the need for a complete new technology for the evaluation of modern television systems.

In this guide, the aspects of video testing are presented based on an understanding of the complete television system including production, compression, decompression and the display or reuse of the original program. The need for continuing application of traditional video testing methods is explained along with their limitations for the identifying the artifacts introduced by video compression. With the variety of video compression methods in use and being developed, there is a requirement for picture quality assessment methods which are independent of the compression algorithm and its related artifacts.

An overview of subjective testing, which uses a panel of observers, is presented as it has been the mainstay for video compression system development. Due to the complexity and variability of subjective testing there is a strong requirement for an objective measurement instrument much as we use today for traditional television systems. Advantages and limitations of proposed objective testing algorithms are presented leading to the conclusion that a method based on a representation of the human visual system is required for best results.

To complete the guide, implementation of an objective picture quality assessment algorithm in a practical measurement instrument is shown to require a combination of traditional video technology and modern computer techniques.