A simple yet effective parametric scheme is introduced for general, successive and flexible regulation of computational complexity in hybrid video encoding. It provides high-level adjustment with or without incorporating other fast motion estimation and DCT algorithms. It can serve as a straightforward means to map or re-map a coding process to a processor (with certain MIPS) or an ASIC design (e.g., operated at a clock frequency constrained by the power consumption requirement). The same parameters facilitate automatic, adaptive and dynamic load balancing for optimum use of multiprocessor resources. The complexity level can be determined in the system design phase or the course of processing. When implemented with practical real-time video codecs, the scheme performs effectively and efficiently in complexity/load management and gracefully in picture quality variation.