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Attaining new goals in computer vision

25.03.2004


Football stadiums and museums may not have much in common, but for two IST projects, EVENTS and VISIRE, they are the perfect testing grounds for computer vision technologies that have the potential to change key areas of visual media forever.



Coordinated by Eptron in Spain, the groundbreaking initiatives have resulted in two state-of-the-art computer vision applications that far surpass anything currently available on the market. "EVENTS is an image interpolation system that creates multi-view presentations of television transmissions in near real-time," explains Tomás Rodríguez, the coordinator of both projects. "VISIRE is a 3D authoring tool that automates the construction of three-dimensional video images from two-dimensional footage."

Eptron is now considering commercialising the systems, amid what Rodríguez sees as a "strong market" for both.


EVENTS, however, may have the strongest market of all. The project partners designed it with football in mind to enhance the viewing experience of fans and cut broadcasters’ costs when covering matches. Instead of populating a soccer stadium with dozens of cameras as broadcasters have had to do until now to capture as many views as possible, EVENTS draws on footage from a minimal number of cameras and, through interpolating the images, creates virtual viewpoints.

Virtual viewpoints

"You can go anywhere you want in the stadium and view the match from there, without having to have a camera physically in place," Rodríguez notes. "You can replay a goal from any angle, or check to see whether a foul was really committed."

Interpolated images have evidently been used before, most notably in films such as ’Matrix,’ but whereas those took hours of manual processing, EVENTS achieves similar results in seconds through its advanced software platform and innovative computer-vision algorithms. This allows near real-time replays at a quality that approximates to normal camera footage, and without the need for costly equipment.

"Other systems, such as the one used to cover the US Superbowl, have had to employ upwards of 20 cameras or robotic cameras that move autonomously, or a combination of both. That’s extremely expensive," the coordinator notes. "With only a few cameras, say five or six, EVENTS can produce the same results at half or even a third of the cost of multi-camera and robotic camera systems."

These benefits were validated in trials last year at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium in Spain and at Oxford United’s stadium in England that served to further enhance the system’s two core components, the Image Interpolation Engine and the Interpolated Video Player. EVENTS is not restricted to football, however, and the project partners see uses for it in other sports, as well as live television events, pop concerts or theatre. The technical progress made during the project may also have applications in video-compression or mobile services. "The market for such a system is good," Rodríguez explains. "And the possibilities for it are huge."

Similarly, VISIRE, which was tested over the same period, stands out as an important advance in computer vision, with a broad, albeit different, market potential.

Automating the design of 3D video

Also geared toward leisure, but with significant scientific uses, VISIRE is a software tool that automates the design process of 3D video images, removing much of the time and cost burden on multimedia specialists.

"There’s currently a great deal of interest in developing 3D image systems because until now the construction of photorealistic 3D footage has had to be done manually in a very long and time consuming process," Rodríguez notes. "What we have done is achieve the same quality largely automatically."

In effect, VISIRE cuts out the need for specialised skills to design 3D images allowing any multimedia professional to take footage with little more than a home-video camera and then convert it into three dimensions.

Tested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and in the Spanish capital’s historic Casino Madrid, VISIRE was validated as a generic 3D authoring tool that can be used on a multitude of environments to create 3D images of any object.

"There’s currently a great deal of interest in developing 3D image systems because until now the construction of photorealistic 3D footage has had to be done manually in a very long and time consuming process," Rodríguez notes. "What we have done is achieve the same quality largely automatically."

In effect, VISIRE cuts out the need for specialised skills to design 3D images allowing any multimedia professional to take footage with little more than a home-video camera and then convert it into three dimensions.

Tested at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and in the Spanish capital’s historic Casino Madrid, VISIRE was validated as a generic 3D authoring tool that can be used on a multitude of environments to create 3D images of any object.

"We chose to pick historic sights and museums to test the system as they are good environments to see how well the application works, although it can be used in many locations and for many purposes," Rodríguez explains. Indeed, any structure or object, from the largest building to the smallest jewel, can be rendered in 3D by VISIRE, and, perhaps most interestingly, the system proves most useful when applied to the most complex images.

"Scenes with rich and highly textured architecture, such as stuccoed walls or sculptures, are excellent candidates for VISIRE because the processing of those types of images is most complicated," the coordinator notes. VISIRE automates up to 95 per cent of the 3D rendering process, reducing the production time for creating 3D images to a third of what it would take to do so entirely manually. "It is the most advanced automatic 3D design system yet created," Rodríguez says.

With plans in the works to launch VISIRE commercially, a whole new virtual world of 3D tours of historic monuments and other sites is being opened up, just as EVENTS promises to allow soccer fans to relive goals in ways they may never have previously thought possible.

Contact:
Tomás Rodríguez
Eptron
Calle Juan Vigon 3
E-28003 Madrid
Spain
Tel: +34-91-5360163
E-mail: tomasrod@eptron.es
Source: Based on information from EVENTS and VISIRE

Tara Morris | IST Results
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm?section=news&tpl=article&BrowsingType=Features&ID=63180

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