Optimizing a tone curve for backward-compatible high dynamic range image and video compression

Zicong Mai*, Hassan Mansour, Rafal Mantiuk, Panos Nasiopoulos, Rabab Ward, Wolfgang Heidrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


For backward compatible high dynamic range (HDR) video compression, the HDR sequence is reconstructed by inverse tone-mapping a compressed low dynamic range (LDR) version of the original HDR content. In this paper, we show that the appropriate choice of a tone-mapping operator (TMO) can significantly improve the reconstructed HDR quality. We develop a statistical model that approximates the distortion resulting from the combined processes of tone-mapping and compression. Using this model, we formulate a numerical optimization problem to find the tone-curve that minimizes the expected mean square error (MSE) in the reconstructed HDR sequence. We also develop a simplified model that reduces the computational complexity of the optimization problem to a closed-form solution. Performance evaluations show that the proposed methods provide superior performance in terms of HDR MSE and SSIM compared to existing tone-mapping schemes. It is also shown that the LDR image quality resulting from the proposed methods matches that produced by perceptually-based TMOs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5648461
Pages (from-to)1558-1571
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Bit-depth scalable
  • HDR video compression
  • high dynamic range imaging
  • tone-mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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