13.08.10

Forget video quality, it’s all in the content

AUTHOR: Inavate

The constant push for higher quality video could be in vain if research from Rice University is correct. The Department of Psychology has released a paper that shows if you like what you’re watching, you’re less likely notice a difference in quality.

Human Factors, a research journal, recently published the study titled, "The Effect of Content Desirability on Subjective Video Quality Ratings" authored by Philip Kortum, Rice professor-in-the-practice and faculty fellow.

"Research has been done asking if people can detect video quality differences," Kortum said. "What we were looking at was how video quality affects viewers in a real way."

Using four studies, Kortum, along with co-author Marc Sullivan of AT&T Labs, showed 100 study participants 180 movie clips encoded at nine different levels, from 550 kilobits per second up to DVD quality. Participants viewed the two-minute clips and then were asked about the video quality of the clips and desirability of the movie content.

Kortum found a strong correlation between the desirability of movie content and subjective ratings of video quality.

"At first we were really surprised by the data," Kortum said. "We were seeing that low- quality movies were being rated higher in quality than some of the high-quality videos. But after we started analysing the data, we determined what was driving this was the actual desirability of the content.

"This strong relationship holds across a wide range of encoding levels and movie content when that content is viewed under longer and more naturalistic viewing conditions."

Rice University argues that the findings run counter to the popular belief that viewers are striving for, and must have, the best video quality at their fingertips all the time.