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Rate-distortion optimization (also RDO or RD) is a method of
improving video quality in video compression. The name refers to
the optimization of the amount of distortion (loss of video
quality) against the amount of data required to encode the video,
the rate. While it is primarily used by video encoders,
rate-distortion optimization can be used to improve quality in any
encoding situation (image, video, audio, or otherwise) where
decisions have to be made that affect both file size and quality
simultaneously. The classical method of making encoding decisions
is for the video encoder to choose the result which yields the
highest quality output image. However, this has the disadvantage
that the choice it makes might require more bits while giving
comparatively little quality benefit. One common example of this
problem is in motion estimation, and in particular regarding the
use of quarter pixel-precision motion estimation.
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