The H.264/AVC video coding standard uses an intra prediction mode with 4×4 and 16×16 blocks for luma and 8×8 blocks for chroma. This standard uses the rate distortion optimization (RDO) method to determine the best coding mode based on the compression performance and video quality. This method offers a large improvement in coding efficiency compared to other compression standards, but the computational complexity is greater due to the various intra prediction modes. This paper proposes a fast intra mode decision algorithm for real-time encoding of H.264/AVC based on the dominant edge direction (DED). The DED is extracted using pixel value summation and subtraction in the horizontal and vertical directions. By using the DED, three modes instead of nine are chosen for RDO calculation to decide on the best mode in the 4×4 luma block. For the 16×16 luma and the 8×8 chroma, only two modes are chosen instead of four. Experimental results show that the entire encoding time saving of the proposed algorithm is about 67% compared to the full intra search method with negligible loss of quality.
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