Nonrigid Surface Tracking, Analysis and Evaluation

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Estimating the dense image motion or optical flow on a real-world nonrigid surface is a fundamental research issue in computer vision, and is applicable to a wide range of fields, including medical imaging, computer animation and robotics. However, nonrigid surface tracking is a difficult challenge because complex nonrigid deformation, accompanied by image blur and natural noise, may lead to severe intensity changes to pixels through an image sequence. This violates the basic intensity constancy assumption of most visual tracking methods. In this thesis, we show that local geometric constraints and long term feature matching techniques can improve local motion preservation, and reduce error accumulation in optical flow estimation. We also demonstrate that combining RGB data with additional information from other sensing channels, can improve tracking performance in blurry scenes as well as allow us to create nonrigid ground truth from real world scenes.First, we introduce a local motion constraint based on a laplacian mesh representation of nonrigid surfaces. This additional constraint term encourages local smoothness whilst simultaneously preserving nonrigid deformation. The results show that our method outperforms most global constraint based models on several popular benchmarks. Second, we observe that the inter-frame blur in general video sequences is near linear, and can be roughly represented by 3D camera motion. To recover dense correspondences from a blurred scene, we therefore design a mechanical device to track camera motion and formulate this as a directional constraint into the optical flow framework. This improves optical flow in blurred scenes. Third, inspired by recent developments in long term feature matching, we introduce an optimisation framework for dense long term tracking -- applicable to any existing optical flow method -- using anchor patches. Finally, we observe that traditional nonrigid surface analysis suffers from a lack of suitable ground truth datasets given real-world noise and long image sequences. To address this, we construct a new ground truth by simultaneously capturing both normal RGB and near-infrared images. The latter spectrum contains dense markers, visible only in the infrared, and represents ground truth positions. Our benchmark contains many real-world scenes and properties absent in existing ground truth datasets.
Date of Award18 May 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDarren Cosker (Supervisor)


  • Nonrigid Surface
  • Optical Flow
  • Ground Truth
  • Near Infrared

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