MEDUSA: A Dynamic Codec Switching Approach in HTTP Adaptive Streaming

ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications, and Applications (TOMM)

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Daniele Lorenzi (AAU, Austria), Farzad Tashtarian (AAU, Austria), Hermann Hellwagner (AAU, Austria), and Christian Timmerer (AAU, Austria)

HTTP Adaptive Streaming (HAS) solutions utilize various Adaptive BitRate (ABR) algorithms to dynamically select appropriate video representations, aiming to adapt to fluctuations in network bandwidth. However, current ABR implementations have a limitation in that they are designed to function with one set of video representations, i.e., the bitrate ladder, which differ in bitrate and resolution, but are encoded with the same video codec. When multiple codecs are available, current ABR algorithms select one of them prior to the streaming session and stick to it throughout the entire streaming session. Although newer codecs are generally preferred over older ones, their compression efficiencies differ depending on the content’s complexity, which varies over time. Therefore, it is necessary to select the appropriate codec for each video segment to reduce the requested data while delivering the highest possible quality. In this paper, we first provide a practical example where we compare compression efficiencies of different codecs on a set of video sequences. Based on this analysis, we formulate the optimization problem of selecting the appropriate codec for each user and video segment (on a per-segment basis in the outmost case), refining the selection of the ABR algorithms by exploiting key metrics, such as the perceived segment quality and size. Subsequently, to address the scalability issues of this centralized model, we introduce a novel distributed plug-in ABR algorithm for Video on Demand (VoD) applications called MEDUSA to be deployed on top of existing ABR algorithms. MEDUSA enhances the user’s Quality of Experience (QoE) by utilizing a multi-objective function that considers the quality and size of video segments when selecting the next representation. Using quality information and segment size from the modified Media Presentation Description (MPD), MEDUSA utilizes buffer occupancy to prioritize quality or size by assigning specific weights in the objective function. To show the impact of MEDUSA, we compare the proposed plug-in approach on top of state-of-the-art techniques with their original implementations and analyze the results for different network traces, video content, and buffer capacities. According to the experimental findings, MEDUSA shows the ability to improve QoE for various test videos and scenarios. The results reveal an impressive improvement in the QoE score of up to 42% according to the ITU-T P.1203 model (mode 0). Additionally, MEDUSA can reduce the transmitted data volume by up to more than 40% achieving a QoE similar to the techniques compared, reducing the burden on streaming service providers for delivery costs.



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