This paper describes a real time contrast enhancement technique for digital video applications. This method called ACE is based on a modified histogram equalization procedure that adapts to the input video statistics. The method decides whether to increase dynamic range or to light up dark regions of the image. As a result, for dark images, details in dark areas are enhanced without affecting mid and bright pixels. For images with average brightness, the dynamic range of the scene is increased. Thus it is adaptive and provides a localized contrast enhancement effect which is not possible with traditional contrast stretching based approaches. Unlike other histogram equalization based approaches, the technique described automatically tones down its effects on pictures that are prone to contouring and other artifacts. The implementation offers a high degree of flexibility that is needed for consumer electronics applications such as provision of various degrees of enhancement and exclusion of letter box regions.
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