Monday, October 22, 2012

Structure From Motion!

Gennady Gienko, Associate Professor of Geomatics in the School of Engineering, is at work developing a very interesting technique that is used to reconstruct the shape of objects using multiple cameras.  This allows for the generation of high resolution, very textured 3D polygonal models, implementing gneral algorithms for stereo vision.  If that sounds complicated, it is for most of the general population.  Gienko used professional level digital cameras with an eye toward some very practical applications.  For instance, one of the most intriguing uses here in Alaska may be to create 3D photographic models of Native Art, pieces that are either sequestered behind glass and can only be viewed at a certain location, or works of art that may deteriorate over time and could be preserved in these polygonal models.
Other uses may include portraits, buildings and structures, light poles in a community, vehicles, etc.  Gienko recently presented the beginning of his work to establish the calibrations for control of distortion at very short and long distances.  He plots the distortions and plots the integrity of dark and light shades, also paying attention to shape - smooth vs. sharp; texture - matte vs. glossy; lighting - shadow vs. glares; and object vs. background, the field of depth.  His most recent project was a photo-textured model of a piece of Native art, a walrus.  He has found that bone is better than ivory, which requires polarizing filters to deal with the glare.
3D Model of Walrus Carving
(To fully experience the 3D model, click this link to PDF) - 3D Model of Walrus Carving

Gienko says there are a variety of applications of these techniques for a variety of disciplines.  His next step is to move to 3 types of objects: the carving, which he is working on now; jewelry, and then large objects, such as a canoe.  He plans to design a course for students in technical photography, a 1 credit course to be called GEO 257 "Technical Photography for the Arts & Sciences."  He believes these techniques will appeal to artists and scientists alike!