The Methodology of the MSU Video Upscalers Benchmark

Our benchmark aims to find the algorithms that produce the most visually pleasant image possible and generalize well to a broad range of content. We check each submission on private clips to prevent upscalers tuning to our test videos.

The Test Video

Our test video consists of 30 clips and contains:

  • 15 2D-animated segments losslessly recorded from various videogames
  • 15 camera-shot segments from high-bitrate YUV444 sources
    • half of the camera-shot segments include humans, and the other half features animals and architecture
  • spatially complex and simple segments (textures, fine details) with high and low SI[1]
  • temporally complex and simple segments (camera and object movement) with high and low TI[1]
  • multiple bicubic downscaling mixed with sharpening to simulate complex real-world camera degradation.

Our test video is slightly compressed and converted to YUV420 to simulate a practical use case. The resolution of our test video is 480×270. It is ¼ of the most popular modern video resolution: 1920×1080. One could argue that this resolution is too small for an actual use case. Still, fine details (which significantly affect the perceived restoration quality) in a 1920×1080 video are comparable to medium-sized objects in a 480×270 video.

While preparing our test video, we converted the sources to BT.709 TV color space with YUV 4:4:4 pixel format. Then we extracted RGB24 PNG frames from the videos. Additional YUV⇔RGB conversions will not lead to any precision loss.

All test segments are combined into a single test video file for convenience. We separate different parts by five black frames to avoid upscalers misbehaving due to scene changes. There are no scene changes inside the segments themselves. Additionally, the test video starts and ends with five black frames.

We extract the most salient[2] spatial crops from upscaling results for our calculations. The segment length varies between 48 and 100 frames. We don’t account for the first and last five frames to improve the results of algorithms that use temporal information.

We ensured that our test video had good algorithm behavior coverage while reducing the number of redundant clips by running the algorithms on a more extensive set of clips, then clustering the clips by Pearson correlation of the LPIPS metric. Our selected group of clips showed the widest variety of super-resolution algorithm behavior.

The Subjective Comparison and Metrics

Crowd-sourced subjective comparison with over 3700 valid participants was conducted using Subjectify[3]. Frames from the clips we showed to the participants are available in the “Visualizations” sections. Participants were to choose the most visually appealing clip in a pair, the clips being the results of the upscalers on our test video. Participants were told not to select algorithms that purposely stylize video for camera-shot segments instead of restoring it.

The Bradley–Terry model calculated subjective quality values in the tables. Values in the tables are the natural exponential of Bradley–Terry values to allow linear comparison between different models: the ratio of subjective values equals the proportion of votes. The complete comparison is only conducted for well-performing models. These models are decided during the comparison according to current confidence intervals. Therefore proportional values comparison is valid only for models reaching the top 10 (top 11 with source) in rating (they have 99% confidence intervals). Ranks of subjective comparison are correct for all models.

Upscalers often slightly displace object borders. It’s not noticeable subjectively but decreases the values of some objective metrics. To combat this, we search for the best values of the metrics by going over pixel shifts of upscalers’ results with ¼ pixel precision (using bilinear scaling for float shifts). We do it for each segment individually for all frames at once.

We use the LPIPS metric to cluster methods and avoid comparing similar super-resolution models. We hide these similar models by default, and you can view them using checkboxes. For each cluster, the subjective comparison has been conducted only for the method achieving the best LPIPS value. Similar models share the same rank in the tables with the selected one.

We calculate most metrics using VQMT[4], including shifted SSIM-Y error maps (we refer to them as “Structural Distortion Maps”). We compute PSNR and SSIM over the Y color component.

We run upscalers on NVIDIA Titan Xp, reading and writing from virtual disk in RAM to minimize the impact of drive instability and delays. Usually, upscalers utilize only GPU for neural network inference, but some also use CPU. We run upscalers on Intel Xeon E5-2683 v3 @ 2.00GHz. Therefore, some CPU-intensive upscaling applications (e.g., Topaz GUI) may run faster on your machine. All models were tested on Windows and may be slightly slower than Linux implementations.

To obtain 2× results for models which support only 4× upscaling, we apply these models and scale results with bicubic downscaling. FPS values are the same as for 4× upscaling. These models and their FPS values are underlined in the tables, and you can read their notes by hovering your mouse over them.

Charts with correlation values of different metrics with our subjective comparison results will be available in our upcoming paper, along with a more in-depth explanation of the test video preparation process and a new proposed super-resolution quality evaluation metric. Subscribe to this benchmark's updates using the form and get notified when the paper is available.

References

  1. ITU-T Recommendation P.910: Subjective video quality assessment methods for multimedia applications, 1999. – 37 p.
  2. https://github.com/alexanderkroner/saliency
  3. https://www.subjectify.us/
  4. https://www.compression.ru/video/quality_measure/vqmt_download.html
28 Aug 2022
See Also
MSU Video Upscalers Benchmark 2022
The most extensive comparison of video super-resolution (VSR) algorithms by subjective quality
MSU HDR Video Reconstruction Benchmark 2022
The most comprehensive comparison of HDR video reconstruction methods
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