In video communications over error-prone channels, compressed video streams are extremely sensitive to bit errors. Often random and burst bit errors impede correct decoding of parts of a received bitstream. Video decoders normally utilize error concealment techniques to repair a damaged decoded frame, but the effectiveness of these error concealment schemes relies heavily on correctly locating errors in the bitstream. In this paper, we propose a fragile watermark-based error detection and localization scheme called "force even watermarking (FEW)". A fragile watermark is forced onto quantized DCT coefficients at the encoder. If at the decoder side the watermark is no longer intact, errors exist in the bitstream associated with a particular macro-block (MB). Thanks to the watermark, bitstream errors can accurately be located at MB level, which facilitates proper error concealment. This paper describes the algorithm, model and analysis of the watermarking procedure. Our simulation results show that compared to the syntax-based error detection schemes, the proposed FEW scheme significantly improves the error detection capabilities of the video decoder, while the peak signal-to-noise ratio loss and additional computational costs due to watermark embedding and extraction are small.
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