Title: Immersive Video Coding: Should Geometry Information be Transmitted as Depth Maps?
Authors: P. Garus, F. Henry, J. Jung, T. Maugey, C. Guillemot
Abstract: Immersive video often refers to multiple views with texture and scene geometry information, from which different viewports can be synthesized on the client side. To design efficient immersive video coding solutions, it is desirable to minimize bitrate, pixel rate and complexity. We investigate whether the classical approach of sending the geometry of a scene as depth maps is appropriate to serve this purpose. Previous work shows that bypassing depth transmission entirely and estimating depth at the client side improves the synthesis performance while saving bitrate and pixel rate. In order to understand if the encoder side depth maps contain information that is beneficial to be transmitted, we first explore a hybrid approach which enables partial depth map transmission using a block-based RD-based decision in the depth coding process.
This approach reveals that partial depth map transmission may improve the rendering performance but does not present a good compromise in terms of compression efficiency. This led us to address the remaining drawbacks of decoder side depth estimation: complexity and depth map inaccuracy. We propose a novel system that takes advantage of high quality depth maps at the server side by encoding them into lightweight features that support the depth estimator at the client side. These features allow reducing the amount of data that has to be handled during decoder side depth estimation by 88%, which significantly speeds up the cost computation and the energy minimization of the depth estimator. Furthermore, -46.0% and -37.9% average synthesis BD-Rate gains are achieved compared to the classical approach with depth maps estimated at the encoder.