3 February 2014 The subjective importance of noise spectral content
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Abstract
This paper presents secondary Standard Quality Scale (SQS2) rankings in overall quality JNDs for a subjective analysis of the 3 axes of noise, amplitude, spectral content, and noise type, based on the ISO 20462 softcopy ruler protocol. For the initial pilot study, a Python noise simulation model was created to generate the matrix of noise masks for the softcopy ruler base images with different levels of noise, different low pass filter noise bandwidths and different band pass filter center frequencies, and 3 different types of noise: luma only, chroma only, and luma and chroma combined. Based on the lessons learned, the full subjective experiment, involving 27 observers from Google, NVIDIA and STMicroelectronics was modified to incorporate a wider set of base image scenes, and the removal of band pass filtered noise masks to ease observer fatigue. Good correlation was observed with the Aptina subjective noise study. The absence of tone mapping in the noise simulation model visibly reduced the contrast at high levels of noise, due to the clipping of the high levels of noise near black and white. Under the 34-inch viewing distance, no significant difference was found between the luma only noise masks and the combined luma and chroma noise masks. This was not the intuitive expectation. Two of the base images with large uniform areas, ‘restaurant’ and ‘no parking’, were found to be consistently more sensitive to noise than the texture rich scenes. Two key conclusions are (1) there are fundamentally different sensitivities to noise on a flat patch versus noise in real images and (2) magnification of an image accentuates visual noise in a way that is non-representative of typical noise reduction algorithms generating the same output frequency. Analysis of our experimental noise masks applied to a synthetic Macbeth ColorChecker Chart confirmed the color-dependent nature of the visibility of luma and chroma noise.
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Donald Baxter, Jonathan Phillips, Hugh Denman, "The subjective importance of noise spectral content", Proc. SPIE 9016, Image Quality and System Performance XI, 901603 (3 February 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2042573; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2042573
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