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Question 12/9 – Objective and subjective methods for evaluating perceptual audiovisual quality in multimedia services within the terms of Study Group 9
(modified former Question 14/9)


In digital systems the quality of each communication medium is influenced by a number of interacting factors, such as source coding and compression, bit rate (fixed or variable), delay, bandwidth, synchronization between the media, transmission impairments, and many others. New services that use IP, wireless, mobile, NGN, ISDN, B-ISDN, ATM, etc. are providing ubiquitous access for multimedia services. Audiovisual multimedia cover multichannel audio, television, 3D video and LSDI applications including interactive ones, in addition to other applications such as videoconferencing, personal computer desktop conferencing, interactive educational and training services, groupware, interactive gaming, and videotelephony. In order to develop the two-way measurement techniques required for conversational applications a basis in one-way audio and video quality evaluation must first be defined and validated. Considering the spread of broadband connections to business and the home, the bandwidths will support both low resolution (e.g., QCIF) and standard and high definition imagery. As an example, audio multimedia applications currently range from audio for narrowband applications (e.g. video telephony) to the enhanced audio contained in 7.1 surround sound systems for interactive gaming. In the future, 3D programs and 3D games are expected to become more widely available. Methods for assessing the quality of these media services are needed.

Objective methods

Current objective quality measuring techniques for audiovisual applications do not correlate to the user opinion on the perceived audiovisual quality with the desirable accuracy. It is therefore necessary to identify objective techniques for measuring the various individual and combined effects of factors such as digital compression, transmission, storage, and others on the perceived quality of audiovisual systems. It is also important to verify that these techniques are meaningful by correlating proposed objective tests with corresponding subjective test data.

Subjective methods

There is a need to continue to develop new subjective methods to address new audiovisual services. The perceived quality depends on the kind of application and on the tasks the applications are used for. For example, in a free conversation through a videophone, the perceived quality may primarily depend on delay, lip-synchronization and audio quality, while in a mainly one-way application like remote-teaching the perceived quality could be primarily related to the quality of graph and low motion picture sequences.

These studies include the maintenance of and enhancements to Recommendations P.910, P.911, P.920, P.930, P.931, J.146, J.148, J.149, and the development of new Recommendations as needed.

Much of the work on this Question (and its predecessors) was and will be done in cooperation with the Video Quality Experts Group (VQEG).


  1. Interaction of media: What subjective and objective measurement methods should be used to evaluate end-to-end quality of each medium (e.g. video, audio, television, 3D video) and the interactions between the media, with particular attention to the audiovisual quality assessment of systems used for videoconferencing/videotelephony and other interactive multimedia services? What are the quality levels that can be defined by objective or subjective methods in different applications (or tasks) taking into account the interactions between media?
  2. 2) Transmission errors: What objective methods could be used for in-service measurement and monitoring of transmission systems for such multimedia services in the presence of transmission errors? What new subjective measurement methods should be used for the evaluation of transmission quality of real time audiovisual services by expert observers resulting in the identification of specific flaws in the transmission equipment or environment? What procedures should be used, and which dimensions, transforms, and partial or differential signals should be viewed by experts to evaluate specific impairments of real time audiovisual services?
    What objective and subjective methods can be used to evaluate audiovisual signals with time-varying quality?
  3. Impairment characterizations: Among the most significant factors (e.g. spatial resolution, temporal resolution, colour fidelity, audio and visual artefacts, media synchronization, delay, cross-talk etc.) affecting the overall quality of multimedia services, what objective and subjective methods assess the extent of or can differentiate between these factors? How can the mutual interaction between these factors be objectively and subjectively measured with respect to their influence on overall audiovisual quality? For what applications can the assessment methods be shown to be useful and robust over a range of conditions?
  4. Evaluation of specific services: What assessment methods (objective and subjective) can be used to characterize the quality effects of multipoint distribution for interactive communication and other new audiovisual services such as remote monitoring, interactive gaming, and mobile audiovisual communication?
  5. Test methodologies: What objective or subjective methods and assessment tools are required to fully describe perceived audiovisual impairments in terms of measurable system parameters? What kind of references should be used in subjective tests? What methods can be used to measure the video quality of 3D display monitors? What methods can be used to measure the eye fatigue in 3D video applications?
  6. Combination of test results: In some cases it may be useful to combine objective measures (e.g. video measures, audio measures, media synchronization) to provide a single figure of merit. In this regard, which objective measures and/or techniques should be combined, and in what manner, so that the figure of merit correlates satisfactorily with subjective test results?
  7. Test sequences: While the library of test sequences has increased greatly during the last study period (e.g. VQEG Phase I), there is still a need for more test sequences, especially those with audio included. Which audiovisual test material (e.g. audiovisual test sequences, 3D video) can be used for subjective and objective evaluations? In addition to the definitions of SI and TI in P.910, which criteria (objective and/or subjective) should be used to characterize and classify multimedia test material?
  8. Validation and applicability of objective methods: There are three basic methodologies of objective picture quality measurement. Full-reference (FR) uses the full bandwidth video input. Reduced-reference (RR) uses lower bandwidth features extracted from the video input. No reference (NR) has no information about the video input. What objective methodology should be used for different multimedia applications? What subjective methods should be used to validate each of the three basic objective methodologies?
  9. What enhancements to existing Recommendations are required to provide energy savings directly or indirectly in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) or in other industries? What enhancements to developing or new Recommendations are required to provide such energy savings?


Tasks include, but are not limited to the ones detailed below.

  • Quality assessment in multimedia services requires on the one hand the continuous updating of Recommendations under the responsibility of Study  Group 9 and also the definition of new task oriented/application-dependent evaluation methods for the combined evaluation of audio and video signals.
  • A new Recommendation utilizing expert viewers is expected in this Study Period. Three Recommendations defining objective methods for assessing audiovisual quality in multimedia services are expected to be approved in this Study Period.
  • Initial work on quality assessment of interactive gaming applications will result in a new Recommendation in this Study Period.

An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the SG 9 Work Programme.




  • P series, J series


  • 2/9, 8/9, 10/9

Study Groups:

  • ITU-T Study Groups 12, 13, 15 and 16 and ITU-R Study Group 6

Standardization bodies:

  • IETF and regional standardization bodies, e.g. ATIS


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Updated : 2009-11-05