PIXEL MAGIC® Video Enhancement Technology – Uniquely Ipera.
The secret sauce in our Pixel Xtream transcoder is our proprietary and patented Pixel Magic core video enhancement technology – the fruit of our years-long algorithmic research.
The video industry has observed phenomenal growth in the last decade with the growth of content, wide adoption of smart phones, and advancement of processing technology; however, high video quality at reasonable cost is still hard to obtain most of the time, especially when delivered over a cellular network. Issues such as noisy video, blocky artifacts, low contrast, dull color, and blur motion are very common.
Ipera’s founding engineers have been working on video quality and compression research at different companies for over a decade. We understand what causes poor video quality and how to fix those problems without hogging bandwidth and processor cycles. After more than three years of intensive R&D, Ipera introduced its end-to-end Pixel Magic core technology. Pixel Magic bridges the gap between today’s poor-quality video and what users want. Pixel Magic has built-in intelligence, is independent of Operating System or video codec format, and is highly scalable, thus making it suitable for a variety of applications, including broadcast, enterprise, security, and consumer applications.
Pixel Magic can be integrated into numerous locations in the video capture, preparation, transmission, and consumption process:
- Video can be enhanced right where it is captured and before it is encoded to eliminate numerous imperfections created by video capture devices.
- Video can be enhanced after it is encoded but before transmission to enhance video quality and reduce the bit-rate required for transmission.
- Pixel Magic is integrated into Ipera’s Pixel Xtream series of transcoders – for best-in-class video quality output.
- Pixel Magic has also been integrated into various portable devices or streaming terminals – to enhance the video after it is received and decoded but before it is displayed on the screen.
Pixel Magic has been carefully designed to correct or minimize video distortions using the following techniques:
- De-blocking, De-ringing, De-mosquito: Codec-related video defects such as blocky, ringing and mosquito effects are eliminated
- Noise reduction: Both spatial and temporal noise are suppressed
- Brightness enhancement: Brightness is balanced for a pleasing, suitable level
- Detail/edge enhancement: Details and edges are enhanced so that the video is sharper
- Contrast/dynamic range enhancement: Contrast and dynamic range are improved; black level is emphasized
- Color enhancement: Colors are balanced/corrected and naturalized with pleasing saturation
- Motion blur reduction: Motion blur for LCD display is reduced
- Scaler: Video is scaled to the desired resolution, and converted to the desired frame-rate for viewing without generating undesirable artifacts while keeping the image’s sharpness
- De-interlacing: Interlaced contents are de-interlaced with the highest quality de-interlacing algorithms – so interlaced contents (most contents still are interlaced at capture) can be viewed without annoying interlacing artifacts on progressive-scan displays (all digital displays used today are progressive)
The biggest technical challenge for video enhancement is not how to make each individual feature work, but to make them work harmoniously and intelligently together under various setups with various content. Equally challenging is how to carefully craft the algorithms so that they will run much more efficiently on CPUs and DSPs (by using less megahertz).
This is a very practical benefit for mobile applications, for it means longer battery life for mobile users. Wireless data bandwidth has grown dramatically in the last ten years; however, due to the increase in usage and content, the wireless data network is more jammed than ever. Live streaming of high quality content to the mobile devices continues to be a challenge, and is also expensive. Pixel Magic improves viewing quality on mobile devices without increasing the bandwidth usage or draining the battery as fast.
This is also a very practical benefit for server applications, since it means the server can handle more processes. For implementation on server applications, Pixel Magic means the server can process more channels simultaneously and run cooler (lots of server rooms are overheating even when equipped with state-of-the-art ventilation).
Pixel Magic core technology measures well on the above criteria. It can enhance video content intelligently, effectively, and efficiently. On low-end mobile applications, it can dramatically improve video quality on 30 FPS QVGA video (typical for portable devices and handsets) using only about 100 MHz of ARM926 processing power. On PC and SIMD DSPs, high-definition and multiple channel enhancements have been achieved. As an example, on an Intel i7-based single CPU server, Pixel Magic only uses 3 to 4% of CPU power when running at full steam; but the quality improvements are significant and highly visible to users.
In the transcoder application, Pixel Magic’s improvement to video quality is especially obvious when one or more of the following situations exist:
- Input video is interlaced and needs to be properly de-interlaced.
- Input video and output video are at different resolutions and need to be scaled. When output resolution is bigger than input resolution (up-scaling), Pixel Magic produces sharper images that are free from ringing artifacts. When output resolution is smaller than input resolution (down-scaling), Pixel Magic produces video output that looks sharp and is free of aliasing.
- The input video is imperfect with low contrast, blurring, dull colors, or color errors (too bluish or too reddish).
- The input video has compression artifacts such as blocking, mosquito noise, ringing, etc.
- The input video has heavy capture noise. i.e. heavy 3D noise when using a CMOS sensor in low light.
Thanks to its frame-buffer in, frame-buffer out, and modular architecture, it is easy to integrate Pixel Magic into new applications in consumer, mobile, or enterprise products. Meanwhile, Ipera also licenses its core technology to non-competing third parties.