Three-dimensional (3D) video and imaging technologies is an emerging trend in the development of digital video systems, as we presently witness the appearance of 3D displays, coding systems, and 3D camera setups. Three-dimensional multi-view video is typically obtained from a set of synchronized cameras, which are capturing the same scene from different viewpoints. This technique especially enables applications such as free-viewpoint video or 3D-TV. Free-viewpoint video applications provide the feature to interactively select and render a virtual viewpoint of the scene. A 3D experience such as for example in 3D-TV is obtained if the data representation and display enable to distinguish the relief of the scene, i.e., the depth within the scene. With 3D-TV, the depth of the scene can be perceived using a multi-view display that renders simultaneously several views of the same scene. To render these multiple views on a remote display, an efficient transmission, and thus compression of the multi-view video is necessary. However, a major problem when dealing with multi-view video is the intrinsically large amount of data to be compressed, decompressed and rendered. We aim at an efficient and flexible multi-view video system, and explore three different aspects. First, we develop an algorithm for acquiring a depth signal from a multi-view setup. Second, we present efficient 3D rendering algorithms for a multi-view signal. Third, we propose coding techniques for 3D multi-view signals, based on the use of an explicit depth signal. This motivates that the thesis is divided in three parts.
The first part (Chapter 3) addresses the problem of 3D multi-view video acquisition. Multi-view video acquisition refers to the task of estimating and recording a 3D geometric description of the scene. A 3D description of the scene can be represented by a so-called depth image, which can be estimated by triangulation of the corresponding pixels in the multiple views. Initially, we focus on the problem of depth estimation using two views, and present the basic geometric model that enables the triangulation of corresponding pixels across the views. Next, we review two calculation/optimization strategies for determining corresponding pixels: a local and a one-dimensional optimization strategy. Second, to generalize from the two-view case, we introduce a simple geometric model for estimating the depth using multiple views simultaneously. Based on this geometric model, we propose a new multi-view depth-estimation technique, employing a one-dimensional optimization strategy that (1) reduces the noise level in the estimated depth images and (2) enforces consistent depth images across the views.
The second part (Chapter 4) details the problem of multi-view image rendering. Multi-view image rendering refers to the process of generating synthetic images using multiple views. Two different rendering techniques are initially explored: a 3D image warping and a mesh-based rendering technique. Each of these methods has its limitations and suffers from either high computational complexity or low image rendering quality. As a consequence, we present two image-based rendering algorithms that improves the balance on the aforementioned issues. First, we derive an alternative formulation of the relief texture algorithm which was extented to the geometry of multiple views. The proposed technique features two advantages: it avoids rendering artifacts (“holes”) in the synthetic image and it is suitable for execution on a standard Graphics Processor Unit (GPU). Second, we propose an inverse mapping rendering technique that allows a simple and accurate re-sampling of synthetic pixels. Experimental comparisons with 3D image warping show an improvement of rendering quality of 3.8 dB for the relief texture mapping and 3.0 dB for the inverse mapping rendering technique.
The third part concentrates on the compression problem of multi-view texture and depth video (Chapters 5–7). In Chapter 5, we extend the standard H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression algorithm for handling the compression of multi-view video. As opposed to the Multi-view Video Coding (MVC) standard that encodes only the multi-view texture data, the proposed encoder peforms the compression of both the texture and the depth multi-view sequences. The proposed extension is based on exploiting the correlation between the multiple camera views. To this end, two different approaches for predictive coding of views have been investigated: a block-based disparity-compensated prediction technique and a View Synthesis Prediction (VSP) scheme. Whereas VSP relies on an accurate depth image, the block-based disparity-compensated prediction scheme can be performed without any geometry information. Our encoder adaptively selects the most appropriate prediction scheme using a rate-distortion criterion for an optimal prediction-mode selection. We present experimental results for several texture and depth multi-view sequences, yielding a quality improvement of up to 0.6 dB for the texture and 3.2 dB for the depth, when compared to solely performing H.264/MPEG-4 AVC disparity-compensated prediction. Additionally, we discuss the trade-off between the random-access to a user-selected view and the coding efficiency. Experimental results illustrating and quantifying this trade-off are provided. In Chapter 6, we focus on the compression of a depth signal. We present a novel depth image coding algorithm which concentrates on the special characteristics of depth images: smooth regions delineated by sharp edges. The algorithm models these smooth regions using parameterized piecewise-linear functions and sharp edges by a straight line, so that it is more efficient than a conventional transform-based encoder. To optimize the quality of the coding system for a given bit rate, a special global rate-distortion optimization balances the rate against the accuracy of the signal representation. For typical bit rates, i.e., between 0.01 and 0.25 bit/pixel, experiments have revealed that the coder outperforms a standard JPEG-2000 encoder by 0.6-3.0 dB. Preliminary results were published in the Proceedings of 26th Symposium on Information Theory in the Benelux. In Chapter 7, we propose a novel joint depth-texture bit-allocation algorithm for the joint compression of texture and depth images. The described algorithm combines the depth and texture Rate-Distortion (R-D) curves, to obtain a single R-D surface that allows the optimization of the joint bit-allocation in relation to the obtained rendering quality. Experimental results show an estimated gain of 1 dB compared to a compression performed without joint bit-allocation optimization. Besides this, our joint R-D model can be readily integrated into an multi-view H.264/MPEG-4 AVC coder because it yields the optimal compression setting with a limited computation effort.