Welcome to a new column on the ACM SIGMM Records from the Video Quality Experts Group (VQEG).
The last VQEG plenary meeting took place from 13 to 17 December 2021, and it was organized online by University of Surrey, UK. During five days, more than 100 participants (from more than 20 different countries of America, Asia, Africa, and Europe) could remotely attend the multiple sessions related to the active VQEG projects, which included more than 35 presentations and interesting discussions. This column provides an overview of this VQEG plenary meeting, while all the information, minutes and files (including the presented slides) from the meeting are available online in the VQEG meeting website.
Many of the works presented in this meeting can be relevant for the SIGMM community working on quality assessment. Particularly interesting can be the new analyses and methodologies discussed within the Statistical Analyses Methods group, the new metrics and datasets presented within the No-Reference Metrics group, and the progress on the plans of the 5G Key Performance Indicators group and the Immersive Media group. We encourage those readers interested in any of the activities going on in the working groups to check their websites and subscribe to the corresponding reflectors, to follow them and get involved.
Overview of VQEG Projects
Audiovisual HD (AVHD)
The AVHD group investigates improved subjective and objective methods for analyzing commonly available video systems. In this sense, it has recently completed a joint project between VQEG and ITU SG12 in which 35 candidate objective quality models were submitted and evaluated through extensive validation tests. The result was the ITU-T Recommendation P.1204, which includes three standardized models: a bit-stream model, a reduced reference model, and a hybrid no-reference model. The group is currently considering extensions of this standard, which originally covered H.264, HEVC, and VP9, to include other encoders, such as AV1. Apart from this, two other projects are active under the scope of AVHD: QoE Metrics for Live Video Streaming Applications (Live QoE) and Advanced Subjective Methods (AVHD-SUB).
During the meeting, three presentations related to AVHD activities were provided. In the first one, Mikolaj Leszczuk (AGH University) presented their work on secure and reliable delivery of professional live transmissions with low latency, which brought to the floor the constant need for video datasets, such as the VideoSet. In addition, Andy Quested (ITU-R Working Party 6C) led a discussion on how to assess video quality for very high resolution (e.g., 8K, 16K, 32K, etc.) monitors with interactive applications, which raised the discussion on the key possibility of zooming in to absorb the details of the images without pixelation. Finally, Abhinau Kumar (UT Austin) and Cosmin Stejerean (Meta) presented their work on exploring the reduction of the complexity of VMAF by using features in the wavelet domain .
Quality Assessment for Health applications (QAH)
The QAH group works on the quality assessment of health applications, considering both subjective evaluation and the development of datasets, objective metrics, and task-based approaches. This group was recently launched and, for the moment, they have been working on a topical review paper on objective quality assessment of medical images and videos, which was submitted in December to Medical Image Analysis . Rafael Rodrigues (Universidade da Beira Interior) and Lucie Lévêque (Nantes Université) presented the main details of this work in a presentation scheduled during the QAH session. The presentation also included information about the review paper published by some members of the group on methodologies for subjective quality assessment of medical images  and the efforts in gathering datasets to be listed on the VQEG datasets website. In addition, Lu Zhang (IETR – INSA Rennes) presented her work on model observers for the objective quality assessment of medical images from task-based approaches, considering three tasks: detection, localization, and characterization . In addition, it is worth noting that members of this group are organizing a special session on “Quality Assessment for Medical Imaging” at the IEEE International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP) that will take place in Bordeaux (France) from the 16 to the 19 October 2022.
Statistical Analysis Methods (SAM)
The SAM group works on improving analysis methods both for the results of subjective experiments and for objective quality models and metrics. Currently, they are working on statistical analysis methods for subjective tests, which are discussed in their monthly meetings.
In this meeting, there were four presentations related to SAM activities. In the first one, Zhi Li and Lukáš Krasula (Netflix), exposed the lessons they learned from the subjective assessment test carried out during the development of their metric Contrast Aware Multiscale Banding Index (CAMBI) . In particular, they found that some subjective can have perceptually unbalanced stimuli, which can cause systematic and random errors in the results. In this sense, they explained their statistical data analyses to mitigate these errors, such as the techniques in ITU-T Recommendation P.913 (section 12.6) which can reduce the effects of the random error. The second presentation described the work by Pablo Pérez (Nokia Bell Labs), Lucjan Janowsk (AGH University), Narciso Garcia (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid), and Margaret H. Pinson (NTIA/ITS) on a novel subjective assessment methodology with few observers with repetitions (FOWR) . Apart from the description of the methodology, the dataset generated from the experiments is available on the Consumer Digital Video Library (CDVL). Also, they launched a call for other labs to repeat their experiments, which will help on discovering the viability, scope and limitations of the FOWR method and, if appropriate, include this method in the ITU-T Recommendation P.913 for quasi-experimental assessments when it is not possible to have 16 to 24 subjects (e.g., pre-tests, expert assessment, and resource limitations), for example, performing the experiment with 4 subjects 4 times each on different days, which would be similar to a test with 15 subjects. In the third presentation, Irene Viola (CWI) and Lucjan Janowski (AGH University) presented their analyses on the standardized methods for subject removal in subjective tests. In particular, the methods proposed in the recommendations ITU-R BT.500 and ITU-T P.913 were considered, resulting in that the first one (described in Annex 1 of Part 1) is not recommended for Absolute Category Rating (ACR) tests, while the one described in the second recommendations provides good performance, although further investigation in the correlation threshold used to discard subjects s required. Finally, the last presentation led the discussion on the future activities of SAM group, where different possibilities were proposed, such as the analysis of confidence intervals for subjective tests, new methods for comparing subjective tests from more than two labs, how to extend these results to better understand the precision of objective metrics, and research on crowdsourcing experiment in order to make them more reliable and improve cost-effectiveness. These new activities are discussed in the monthly meetings of the group.
Computer Generated Imagery (CGI)
CGI group focuses on quality analysis of computer-generated imagery, with a focus on gaming in particular. Currently, the group is working on topics related to ITU work items, such as ITU-T Recommendation P.809 with the development of a questionnaire for interactive cloud gaming quality assessment, ITU-T Recommendation P.CROWDG related to quality assessment of gaming through crowdsourcing, ITU-T Recommendation P.BBQCG with a bit-stream based quality assessment of cloud gaming services, and a codec comparison for computer-generated content. In addition, a presentation was delivered during the meeting by Nabajeet Barman (Kingston University/Brightcove), who presented the subjective results related to the work presented at the last VQEG meeting on the use of LCEVC for Gaming Video Streaming Applications . For more information on the related activities, do not hesitate to contact the chairs of the group.
No Reference Metrics (NORM)
The NORM group is an open collaborative project for developing no-reference metrics for monitoring visual service quality. Currently, two main topics are being addressed by the group, which are discussed in regular online meetings. The first one is related to the improvement of SI/TI metrics to solve ambiguities that have appeared over time, with the objective of providing reference software and updating the ITU-T Recommendation P.910. The second item is related to the addition of standard metadata of video quality assessment-related information in the encoded video streams.
In this meeting, this group was one of the most active in terms of presentations on related topics, with 11 presentations. Firstly, Lukáš Krasula (Netflix) presented their Contrast Aware Multiscale Banding Index (CAMBI) , an objective quality metric that addresses banding degradations that are not detected by other metrics, such as VMAF and PSNR (code is available on GitHub). Mikolaj Leszczuk (AGH University) presented their work on the detection of User-Generated Content (UGC) automatic detection in the wild. Also, Vignesh Menon & Hadi Amirpour (AAU Klagenfurt) presented their open-source project related to the analysis and online prediction of video complexity for streaming applications. Jing Li (Alibaba) presented their work related to the perceptual quality assessment of internet videos , proposing a new objective metric (STDAM, for the moment, used internally) validated in the Youku-V1K dataset. The next presentation was delivered by Margaret Pinson (NTIA/ITS) dealing with a comprehensive analysis on why no-reference metrics fail, which emphasized the need of training these metrics on several datasets and test them on larger ones. The discussion also pointed out the recommendation for researchers to publish their metrics in open source in order to make it easier to validate and improve them. Moreover, Balu Adsumilli and Yilin Wang (Youtube) presented a new no-reference metric for UGC, called YouVQ, based on a transfer-learning approach with a pre-train on non-UGC data and a re-train on UGC. This metric will be released in open-source shortly, and a dataset with videos and subjective scores has been also published. Also, Margaret Pinson (NTIA/ITS), Mikołaj Leszczuk (AGH University), Lukáš Krasula (Netflix), Nabajeet Barman (Kingston University/Brightcove), Maria Martini (Kingston University), and Jing Li (Alibaba) presented a collection of datasets for no-reference metric research, while Shahid Satti (Opticom GmbH) exposed their work on encoding complexity for short video sequences. On his side, Franz Götz-Hahn (Universität Konstanz/Universität Kassel) presented their work on the creation of the KonVid-150k video quality assessment dataset , which can be very valuable for training no-reference metrics, and the development of objective video quality metrics. Finally, regarding the aforementioned two active topics within NORM group, Ioannis Katsavounidis (Meta) provided a presentation on the advances in relation to the activity related to the inclusion of standard video quality metadata, while Lukáš Krasula (Netflix), Cosmin Stejerean (Meta), and Werner Robitza (AVEQ/TU Ilmenau) presented the updates on the improvement of SI/TI metrics for modern video systems.
Joint Effort Group (JEG) – Hybrid
The JEG group was focused on joint work to develop hybrid perceptual/bitstream metrics and on the creation of a large dataset for training such models using full-reference metrics instead of subjective metrics. In this sense, a project in collaboration with Sky was finished and presented in the last VQEG meeting.
Related activities were presented in this meeting. In particular, Enrico Masala and Lohic Fotio Tiotsop (Politecnico di Torino) presented the updates on the recent activities carried out by the group, and their work on artificial-intelligence observers for video quality evaluation .
Implementer’s Guide for Video Quality Metrics (IGVQM)
The IGVQM group, whose activity started in the VQEG meeting in December 2020, works on creating an implementer’s guide for video quality metrics. In this sense, the current goal is to create a report on the accuracy of video quality metrics following a test plan based on collecting datasets, collecting metrics and methods for assessment, and carrying out statistical analyses. An update on the advances was provided by Ioannis Katsavounidis (Meta) and a call for the community is open to contribute to this activity with datasets and metrics.
5G Key Performance Indicators (5GKPI)
The 5GKPI group studies relationship between key performance indicators of new communications networks (especially 5G) and QoE of video services on top of them. Currently, the group is working on the definition of relevant use cases, which are discussed on monthly audiocalls.
In relation to these activities, there were four presentations during this meeting. Werner Robitza (AVQ/TU Ilmenau) presented a proposal for KPI message format for gaming QoE over 5G networks. Also, Pablo Pérez (Nokia Bell Labs) presented their work on a parametric quality model for teleoperated driving  and an update of the ITU-T GSTR-5GQoE topic, related to the QoE requirements for real-time multimedia services over 5G networks. Finally, Margaret Pinson (NTIA/ITS) presented an overall description of 5G technology, including differences in spectrum allocation per country impact on the propagation and responsiveness and throughput of 5G devices.
Immersive Media Group (IMG)
The IMG group researches on quality assessment of immersive media. The group recently finished the test plan for quality assessment of short 360-degree video sequences, which resulted in the support for the development of the ITU-T Recommendation P.919. Currently, the group is working on further analyses of the data gathered from the subjective tests carried out for that test plan and on the analysis of data for the quality assessment of long 360-degree videos. In addition, members of the group are contributing to the IUT-T SG12 on the topic G.CMVTQS on computational models for QoE/QoS monitoring to assess video telephony services. Finally, the group is also working on the preparation of a test plan for evaluating the QoE with immersive and interactive communication systems, which was presented by Pablo Pérez (Nokia Bell Labs) and Jesús Gutiérrez (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid). If the reader is interested in this topic, do not hesitate to contact them to join the effort.
During the meeting, there were also four presentations covering topics related to the IMG topics. Firstly, Alexander Raake (TU Ilmenau) provided an overview of the projects within the AVT group dealing with the QoE assessment of immersive media. Also, Ashutosh Singla (TU Ilmenau) presented a 360-degree video database with higher-order ambisonics spatial audio. Maria Martini (Kingston University) presented an update on the IEEE standardization activities on Human Factors or Visual Experiences (HFVE), such as the recently submitted draft standard on deep-learning-based quality assessment and the draft standard to be submitted shortly on quality assessment of light field content. Finally, Kjell Brunnstöm (RISE) presented their work on legibility in virtual reality, also addressing the perception of speech-to-text by Deaf and hard of hearing.
Intersector Rapporteur Group on Audiovisual Quality Assessment (IRG-AVQA) and Q19 Interim Meeting
Although in this case there was no official meeting IRG-AVQA meeting, there were various presentations related to ITU activities addressing QoE evaluation topics. In this sense, Chulhee Lee (Yonsei University) presented an overview of ITU-R activities, with a special focus on quality assessment of HDR content, and together with Alexander Raake (TU Ilmenau) presented an update on ongoing ITU-T activities.
All the sessions of this meeting and, thus, the presentations, were recorded and have been uploaded to Youtube. Also, it is worth informing that the anonymous FTP will be closed soon, so files and presentations can be accessed from old browsers or via an FTP app. All the files, including those corresponding to the VQEG meetings, will be embedded into the VQEG website over the next months. In addition, the GitHub with tools and subjective labs setup is still online and kept updated. Moreover, during this meeting, it was decided to close the Joint Effort Group (JEG) and the Independent Lab Group (ILG), which can be re-established when needed. Finally, although there were not many activities in this meeting within the Quality Assessment for Computer Vision Applications (QACoViA) and the Psycho-Physiological Quality Assessment (PsyPhyQA) they are still active.
The next VQEG plenary meeting will take place in Rennes (France) from 9 to 13 May 2022, which will be again face-to-face after four online meetings.
 A. K. Venkataramanan, C. Stejerean, A. C. Bovik, “FUNQUE: Fusion of Unified Quality Evaluators”, arXiv:2202.11241, submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Image Processing (ICIP), 2022. (opens in a new tab).
 R. Rodrigues, L. Lévêque, J. Gutiérrez, H. Jebbari, M. Outtas, L. Zhang, A. Chetouani, S. Al-Juboori, M. G. Martini, A. M. G. Pinheiro, “Objective Quality Assessment of Medical Images and Videos: Review and Challenges”, submitted to the Medical Image Analysis, 2022.
 L. Lévêque, M. Outtas, L. Zhang, H. Liu, “Comparative study of the methodologies used for subjective medical image quality assessment”, Physics in Medicine & Biology, vol. 66, no. 15, Jul. 2021. (opens in a new tab).
 L.Zhang, C.Cavaro-Ménard, P.Le Callet, “An overview of model observers”, Innovation and Research in Biomedical Engineering, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 214-224, Sep. 2014. (opens in a new tab).
 P. Tandon, M. Afonso, J. Sole, L. Krasula, “Comparative study of the methodologies used for subjective medical image quality assessment”, Picture Coding Symposium (PCS), Jul. 2021. (opens in a new tab).
 P. Pérez, L. Janowski, N. García, M. Pinson, “Subjective Assessment Experiments That Recruit Few Observers With Repetitions (FOWR)”, IEEE Transactions on Multimedia (Early Access), Jul. 2021. (opens in a new tab).
 N. Barman, S. Schmidt, S. Zadtootaghaj, M.G. Martini, “Evaluation of MPEG-5 part 2 (LCEVC) for live gaming video streaming applications”, Proceedings of the Mile-High Video Conference, Mar. 2022. (opens in a new tab).
 J. Xu, J. Li, X. Zhou, W. Zhou, B. Wang, Z. Chen, “Perceptual Quality Assessment of Internet Videos”, Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Multimedia, Oct. 2021. (opens in a new tab).
 F. Götz-Hahn, V. Hosu, H. Lin, D. Saupe, “KonVid-150k: A Dataset for No-Reference Video Quality Assessment of Videos in-the-Wild”, IEEE Access, vol. 9, pp. 72139 – 72160, May. 2021. (opens in a new tab).
 L. F. Tiotsop, T. Mizdos, M. Barkowsky, P. Pocta, A. Servetti, E. Masala, “Mimicking Individual Media Quality Perception with Neural Network based Artificial Observers”, ACM Transactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications, and Applications, vol. 18, no. 1, Jan. 2022. (opens in a new tab).
 P. Pérez, J. Ruiz, I. Benito, R. López, “A parametric quality model to evaluate the performance of tele-operated driving services over 5G networks”, Multimedia Tools and Applications, Jul. 2021. (opens in a new tab).