Abstract : While intra frame drifting is a concern for all types of MPEG-4 AVC compressed-domain video processing applications, it has a particular negative impact in watermarking. In order to avoid the drift drawbacks, two classes of solutions are currently considered in the literature. They try either to compensate the drift distortions at the expense of complex decoding/estimation algorithms or to restrict the insertion to the blocks which are not involved in the prediction, thus reducing the data payload. The present study follows a different approach. First, it algebraically models the drift distortion spread problem by considering the analytic expressions of the MPEG-4 AVC encoding operations. Secondly, it solves the underlying algebraic system under drift-free constraints. Finally, the advanced solution is adapted to take into account the watermarking peculiarities. The experiments consider an m-QIM semi-fragile watermarking method and a video surveillance corpus of 80 minutes. For prescribed data payload (100 bit/s), robustness (BER < 0.1 against transcoding at 50% in stream size), fragility (frame modification detection with accuracies of 1/81 from the frame size and 3s) and complexity constraints, the modified insertion results in gains in transparency of 2 dB in PSNR, of 0.4 in AAD, of 0.002 in IF, of 0.03 in SC, of 0.017 NCC and 22 in DVQ. © (2014) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.