Abstract Block matching motion estimation is a popular method in developing video coding applications. A new algorithm has been proposed for reducing the number of search points using a pattern based particle swarm optimization (PSO) for motion estimation. The conventional particle swarm optimization has been modified to provide accurate solutions in motion estimation problems. This leads to very low computational cost and good estimation accuracy. Due to the center biased nature of the videos, the proposed approach uses an initial pattern to speed up the convergence of the algorithm. Simulation results show that improvements over other fast block matching motion estimation algorithms could be achieved with 31%∼63% of search point reduction, without degradation of image quality.