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In depth map coding, rate-distortion optimization for those pixels that will cause occlusion in view synthesis is a rather challenging task, since the synthesis distortion estimation is complicated by the warping competition and the occlusion order can be easily changed by the adopted optimization strategy. In this paper, an efficient depth map coding approach using allowable depth map distortions is proposed for occlusion-inducing pixels. First, we derive the range of allowable depth level change for both the zero disparity error case and non-zero disparity error case with theoretic and geometrical proofs. Then, we formulate the problem of optimally selecting the depth distortion within allowable depth distortion range with the objective to minimize the overall synthesis distortion involved in the occlusion. The unicity and occlusion order invariance properties of allowable depth distortion range is demonstrated. Finally, we propose a dynamic programming based algorithm to locate the optimal depth distortion for each pixel. Simulation results illustrate the performance improvement of the proposed algorithm over the other state-of-the-art depth map coding optimization schemes.
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