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Model-based Optical Flow: Layers, Learning, and Geometry

Wulff, J.

Tuebingen University, April 2018 (phdthesis)

The estimation of motion in video sequences establishes temporal correspondences between pixels and surfaces and allows reasoning about a scene using multiple frames. Despite being a focus of research for over three decades, computing motion, or optical flow, remains challenging due to a number of difficulties, including the treatment of motion discontinuities and occluded regions, and the integration of information from more than two frames. One reason for these issues is that most optical flow algorithms only reason about the motion of pixels on the image plane, while not taking the image formation pipeline or the 3D structure of the world into account. One approach to address this uses layered models, which represent the occlusion structure of a scene and provide an approximation to the geometry. The goal of this dissertation is to show ways to inject additional knowledge about the scene into layered methods, making them more robust, faster, and more accurate. First, this thesis demonstrates the modeling power of layers using the example of motion blur in videos, which is caused by fast motion relative to the exposure time of the camera. Layers segment the scene into regions that move coherently while preserving their occlusion relationships. The motion of each layer therefore directly determines its motion blur. At the same time, the layered model captures complex blur overlap effects at motion discontinuities. Using layers, we can thus formulate a generative model for blurred video sequences, and use this model to simultaneously deblur a video and compute accurate optical flow for highly dynamic scenes containing motion blur. Next, we consider the representation of the motion within layers. Since, in a layered model, important motion discontinuities are captured by the segmentation into layers, the flow within each layer varies smoothly and can be approximated using a low dimensional subspace. We show how this subspace can be learned from training data using principal component analysis (PCA), and that flow estimation using this subspace is computationally efficient. The combination of the layered model and the low-dimensional subspace gives the best of both worlds, sharp motion discontinuities from the layers and computational efficiency from the subspace. Lastly, we show how layered methods can be dramatically improved using simple semantics. Instead of treating all layers equally, a semantic segmentation divides the scene into its static parts and moving objects. Static parts of the scene constitute a large majority of what is shown in typical video sequences; yet, in such regions optical flow is fully constrained by the depth structure of the scene and the camera motion. After segmenting out moving objects, we consider only static regions, and explicitly reason about the structure of the scene and the camera motion, yielding much better optical flow estimates. Furthermore, computing the structure of the scene allows to better combine information from multiple frames, resulting in high accuracies even in occluded regions. For moving regions, we compute the flow using a generic optical flow method, and combine it with the flow computed for the static regions to obtain a full optical flow field. By combining layered models of the scene with reasoning about the dynamic behavior of the real, three-dimensional world, the methods presented herein push the envelope of optical flow computation in terms of robustness, speed, and accuracy, giving state-of-the-art results on benchmarks and pointing to important future research directions for the estimation of motion in natural scenes.

Official link DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Human Shape Estimation using Statistical Body Models

Loper, M. M.

University of Tübingen, May 2017 (thesis)

Human body estimation methods transform real-world observations into predictions about human body state. These estimation methods benefit a variety of health, entertainment, clothing, and ergonomics applications. State may include pose, overall body shape, and appearance. Body state estimation is underconstrained by observations; ambiguity presents itself both in the form of missing data within observations, and also in the form of unknown correspondences between observations. We address this challenge with the use of a statistical body model: a data-driven virtual human. This helps resolve ambiguity in two ways. First, it fills in missing data, meaning that incomplete observations still result in complete shape estimates. Second, the model provides a statistically-motivated penalty for unlikely states, which enables more plausible body shape estimates. Body state inference requires more than a body model; we therefore build obser- vation models whose output is compared with real observations. In this thesis, body state is estimated from three types of observations: 3D motion capture markers, depth and color images, and high-resolution 3D scans. In each case, a forward process is proposed which simulates observations. By comparing observations to the results of the forward process, state can be adjusted to minimize the difference between simulated and observed data. We use gradient-based methods because they are critical to the precise estimation of state with a large number of parameters. The contributions of this work include three parts. First, we propose a method for the estimation of body shape, nonrigid deformation, and pose from 3D markers. Second, we present a concise approach to differentiating through the rendering process, with application to body shape estimation. And finally, we present a statistical body model trained from human body scans, with state-of-the-art fidelity, good runtime performance, and compatibility with existing animation packages.

Official Version [BibTex]

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Learning Inference Models for Computer Vision

Jampani, V.

MPI for Intelligent Systems and University of Tübingen, 2017 (phdthesis)

Computer vision can be understood as the ability to perform 'inference' on image data. Breakthroughs in computer vision technology are often marked by advances in inference techniques, as even the model design is often dictated by the complexity of inference in them. This thesis proposes learning based inference schemes and demonstrates applications in computer vision. We propose techniques for inference in both generative and discriminative computer vision models. Despite their intuitive appeal, the use of generative models in vision is hampered by the difficulty of posterior inference, which is often too complex or too slow to be practical. We propose techniques for improving inference in two widely used techniques: Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling and message-passing inference. Our inference strategy is to learn separate discriminative models that assist Bayesian inference in a generative model. Experiments on a range of generative vision models show that the proposed techniques accelerate the inference process and/or converge to better solutions. A main complication in the design of discriminative models is the inclusion of prior knowledge in a principled way. For better inference in discriminative models, we propose techniques that modify the original model itself, as inference is simple evaluation of the model. We concentrate on convolutional neural network (CNN) models and propose a generalization of standard spatial convolutions, which are the basic building blocks of CNN architectures, to bilateral convolutions. First, we generalize the existing use of bilateral filters and then propose new neural network architectures with learnable bilateral filters, which we call `Bilateral Neural Networks'. We show how the bilateral filtering modules can be used for modifying existing CNN architectures for better image segmentation and propose a neural network approach for temporal information propagation in videos. Experiments demonstrate the potential of the proposed bilateral networks on a wide range of vision tasks and datasets. In summary, we propose learning based techniques for better inference in several computer vision models ranging from inverse graphics to freely parameterized neural networks. In generative vision models, our inference techniques alleviate some of the crucial hurdles in Bayesian posterior inference, paving new ways for the use of model based machine learning in vision. In discriminative CNN models, the proposed filter generalizations aid in the design of new neural network architectures that can handle sparse high-dimensional data as well as provide a way for incorporating prior knowledge into CNNs.

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]

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Capturing Hand-Object Interaction and Reconstruction of Manipulated Objects

Tzionas, D.

University of Bonn, 2017 (phdthesis)

Hand motion capture with an RGB-D sensor gained recently a lot of research attention, however, even most recent approaches focus on the case of a single isolated hand. We focus instead on hands that interact with other hands or with a rigid or articulated object. Our framework successfully captures motion in such scenarios by combining a generative model with discriminatively trained salient points, collision detection and physics simulation to achieve a low tracking error with physically plausible poses. All components are unified in a single objective function that can be optimized with standard optimization techniques. We initially assume a-priori knowledge of the object's shape and skeleton. In case of unknown object shape there are existing 3d reconstruction methods that capitalize on distinctive geometric or texture features. These methods though fail for textureless and highly symmetric objects like household articles, mechanical parts or toys. We show that extracting 3d hand motion for in-hand scanning effectively facilitates the reconstruction of such objects and we fuse the rich additional information of hands into a 3d reconstruction pipeline. Finally, although shape reconstruction is enough for rigid objects, there is a lack of tools that build rigged models of articulated objects that deform realistically using RGB-D data. We propose a method that creates a fully rigged model consisting of a watertight mesh, embedded skeleton and skinning weights by employing a combination of deformable mesh tracking, motion segmentation based on spectral clustering and skeletonization based on mean curvature flow.

Thesis link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Non-parametric Models for Structured Data and Applications to Human Bodies and Natural Scenes

Lehrmann, A.

ETH Zurich, July 2016 (phdthesis)

The purpose of this thesis is the study of non-parametric models for structured data and their fields of application in computer vision. We aim at the development of context-sensitive architectures which are both expressive and efficient. Our focus is on directed graphical models, in particular Bayesian networks, where we combine the flexibility of non-parametric local distributions with the efficiency of a global topology with bounded treewidth. A bound on the treewidth is obtained by either constraining the maximum indegree of the underlying graph structure or by introducing determinism. The non-parametric distributions in the nodes of the graph are given by decision trees or kernel density estimators. The information flow implied by specific network topologies, especially the resultant (conditional) independencies, allows for a natural integration and control of contextual information. We distinguish between three different types of context: static, dynamic, and semantic. In four different approaches we propose models which exhibit varying combinations of these contextual properties and allow modeling of structured data in space, time, and hierarchies derived thereof. The generative character of the presented models enables a direct synthesis of plausible hypotheses. Extensive experiments validate the developed models in two application scenarios which are of particular interest in computer vision: human bodies and natural scenes. In the practical sections of this work we discuss both areas from different angles and show applications of our models to human pose, motion, and segmentation as well as object categorization and localization. Here, we benefit from the availability of modern datasets of unprecedented size and diversity. Comparisons to traditional approaches and state-of-the-art research on the basis of well-established evaluation criteria allows the objective assessment of our contributions.

pdf [BibTex]


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Shape Models of the Human Body for Distributed Inference

Zuffi, S.

Brown University, May 2015 (phdthesis)

In this thesis we address the problem of building shape models of the human body, in 2D and 3D, which are realistic and efficient to use. We focus our efforts on the human body, which is highly articulated and has interesting shape variations, but the approaches we present here can be applied to generic deformable and articulated objects. To address efficiency, we constrain our models to be part-based and have a tree-structured representation with pairwise relationships between connected parts. This allows the application of methods for distributed inference based on message passing. To address realism, we exploit recent advances in computer graphics that represent the human body with statistical shape models learned from 3D scans. We introduce two articulated body models, a 2D model, named Deformable Structures (DS), which is a contour-based model parameterized for 2D pose and projected shape, and a 3D model, named Stitchable Puppet (SP), which is a mesh-based model parameterized for 3D pose, pose-dependent deformations and intrinsic body shape. We have successfully applied the models to interesting and challenging problems in computer vision and computer graphics, namely pose estimation from static images, pose estimation from video sequences, pose and shape estimation from 3D scan data. This advances the state of the art in human pose and shape estimation and suggests that carefully de ned realistic models can be important for computer vision. More work at the intersection of vision and graphics is thus encouraged.

PDF [BibTex]

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From Scans to Models: Registration of 3D Human Shapes Exploiting Texture Information

Bogo, F.

University of Padova, March 2015 (phdthesis)

New scanning technologies are increasing the importance of 3D mesh data, and of algorithms that can reliably register meshes obtained from multiple scans. Surface registration is important e.g. for building full 3D models from partial scans, identifying and tracking objects in a 3D scene, creating statistical shape models. Human body registration is particularly important for many applications, ranging from biomedicine and robotics to the production of movies and video games; but obtaining accurate and reliable registrations is challenging, given the articulated, non-rigidly deformable structure of the human body. In this thesis, we tackle the problem of 3D human body registration. We start by analyzing the current state of the art, and find that: a) most registration techniques rely only on geometric information, which is ambiguous on flat surface areas; b) there is a lack of adequate datasets and benchmarks in the field. We address both issues. Our contribution is threefold. First, we present a model-based registration technique for human meshes that combines geometry and surface texture information to provide highly accurate mesh-to-mesh correspondences. Our approach estimates scene lighting and surface albedo, and uses the albedo to construct a high-resolution textured 3D body model that is brought into registration with multi-camera image data using a robust matching term. Second, by leveraging our technique, we present FAUST (Fine Alignment Using Scan Texture), a novel dataset collecting 300 high-resolution scans of 10 people in a wide range of poses. FAUST is the first dataset providing both real scans and automatically computed, reliable "ground-truth" correspondences between them. Third, we explore possible uses of our approach in dermatology. By combining our registration technique with a melanocytic lesion segmentation algorithm, we propose a system that automatically detects new or evolving lesions over almost the entire body surface, thus helping dermatologists identify potential melanomas. We conclude this thesis investigating the benefits of using texture information to establish frame-to-frame correspondences in dynamic monocular sequences captured with consumer depth cameras. We outline a novel approach to reconstruct realistic body shape and appearance models from dynamic human performances, and show preliminary results on challenging sequences captured with a Kinect.


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Long Range Motion Estimation and Applications

Sevilla-Lara, L.

Long Range Motion Estimation and Applications, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Febuary 2015 (phdthesis)

Finding correspondences between images underlies many computer vision problems, such as optical flow, tracking, stereovision and alignment. Finding these correspondences involves formulating a matching function and optimizing it. This optimization process is often gradient descent, which avoids exhaustive search, but relies on the assumption of being in the basin of attraction of the right local minimum. This is often the case when the displacement is small, and current methods obtain very accurate results for small motions. However, when the motion is large and the matching function is bumpy this assumption is less likely to be true. One traditional way of avoiding this abruptness is to smooth the matching function spatially by blurring the images. As the displacement becomes larger, the amount of blur required to smooth the matching function becomes also larger. This averaging of pixels leads to a loss of detail in the image. Therefore, there is a trade-off between the size of the objects that can be tracked and the displacement that can be captured. In this thesis we address the basic problem of increasing the size of the basin of attraction in a matching function. We use an image descriptor called distribution fields (DFs). By blurring the images in DF space instead of in pixel space, we in- crease the size of the basin attraction with respect to traditional methods. We show competitive results using DFs both in object tracking and optical flow. Finally we demonstrate an application of capturing large motions for temporal video stitching.




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Modeling the Human Body in 3D: Data Registration and Human Shape Representation

Tsoli, A.

Brown University, Department of Computer Science, May 2014 (phdthesis)

pdf [BibTex]


pdf [BibTex]


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Statistics on Manifolds with Applications to Modeling Shape Deformations

Freifeld, O.

Brown University, August 2013 (phdthesis)

Statistical models of non-rigid deformable shape have wide application in many fi elds, including computer vision, computer graphics, and biometry. We show that shape deformations are well represented through nonlinear manifolds that are also matrix Lie groups. These pattern-theoretic representations lead to several advantages over other alternatives, including a principled measure of shape dissimilarity and a natural way to compose deformations. Moreover, they enable building models using statistics on manifolds. Consequently, such models are superior to those based on Euclidean representations. We demonstrate this by modeling 2D and 3D human body shape. Shape deformations are only one example of manifold-valued data. More generally, in many computer-vision and machine-learning problems, nonlinear manifold representations arise naturally and provide a powerful alternative to Euclidean representations. Statistics is traditionally concerned with data in a Euclidean space, relying on the linear structure and the distances associated with such a space; this renders it inappropriate for nonlinear spaces. Statistics can, however, be generalized to nonlinear manifolds. Moreover, by respecting the underlying geometry, the statistical models result in not only more e ffective analysis but also consistent synthesis. We go beyond previous work on statistics on manifolds by showing how, even on these curved spaces, problems related to modeling a class from scarce data can be dealt with by leveraging information from related classes residing in di fferent regions of the space. We show the usefulness of our approach with 3D shape deformations. To summarize our main contributions: 1) We de fine a new 2D articulated model -- more expressive than traditional ones -- of deformable human shape that factors body-shape, pose, and camera variations. Its high realism is obtained from training data generated from a detailed 3D model. 2) We defi ne a new manifold-based representation of 3D shape deformations that yields statistical deformable-template models that are better than the current state-of-the- art. 3) We generalize a transfer learning idea from Euclidean spaces to Riemannian manifolds. This work demonstrates the value of modeling manifold-valued data and their statistics explicitly on the manifold. Specifi cally, the methods here provide new tools for shape analysis.

pdf Project Page [BibTex]


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Virtual Human Bodies with Clothing and Hair: From Images to Animation

Guan, P.

Brown University, Department of Computer Science, December 2012 (phdthesis)

pdf [BibTex]


pdf [BibTex]

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From Pixels to Layers: Joint Motion Estimation and Segmentation

Sun, D.

Brown University, Department of Computer Science, July 2012 (phdthesis)

pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]