WO1999062252A1 - Method and apparatus for creating seamless digital panoramic images - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for creating seamless digital panoramic images Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1999062252A1
WO1999062252A1 PCT/US1999/010500 US9910500W WO9962252A1 WO 1999062252 A1 WO1999062252 A1 WO 1999062252A1 US 9910500 W US9910500 W US 9910500W WO 9962252 A1 WO9962252 A1 WO 9962252A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
video
digital
apparatus
defined
video camera
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1999/010500
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO1999062252A9 (en
Inventor
Justin Holmes
Kevin B. Mccurdy
Original Assignee
Bamboo.Com
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US8620498A priority Critical
Priority to US09/086,204 priority
Application filed by Bamboo.Com filed Critical Bamboo.Com
Publication of WO1999062252A1 publication Critical patent/WO1999062252A1/en
Publication of WO1999062252A9 publication Critical patent/WO1999062252A9/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • H04N5/23238Control of image capture or reproduction to achieve a very large field of view, e.g. panorama
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N19/00Methods or arrangements for coding, decoding, compressing or decompressing digital video signals
    • H04N19/20Methods or arrangements for coding, decoding, compressing or decompressing digital video signals using video object coding
    • H04N19/23Methods or arrangements for coding, decoding, compressing or decompressing digital video signals using video object coding with coding of regions that are present throughout a whole video segment, e.g. sprites, background or mosaic
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/225Television cameras ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules specially adapted for being embedded in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/232Devices for controlling television cameras, e.g. remote control ; Control of cameras comprising an electronic image sensor
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/222Studio circuitry; Studio devices; Studio equipment ; Cameras comprising an electronic image sensor, e.g. digital cameras, video cameras, TV cameras, video cameras, camcorders, webcams, camera modules for embedding in other devices, e.g. mobile phones, computers or vehicles
    • H04N5/262Studio circuits, e.g. for mixing, switching-over, change of character of image, other special effects ; Cameras specially adapted for the electronic generation of special effects
    • H04N5/2628Alteration of picture size, shape, position or orientation, e.g. zooming, rotation, rolling, perspective, translation

Abstract

An apparatus (10) and method of creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video footage are provided. The method comprises the steps of rotating (13) a video camera (12) at a generally constant speed while the video camera is recording to capture video footage of a panoramic scene of interest; after the video footage has been captured, storing the video footage as a digital video file in a computer for processing; and processing the digital video file to create a seamless digital panoramic image of the panoramic scene of interest.

Description

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR CREATING SEAMLESS DIGITAL PANORAMIC IMAGES

Field Of The Invention

The present invention relates to digital imaging and in particular to a method and apparatus for creating seamless digital panoramic images from video footage of a panoramic scene of interest.

Background Of The Invention

Creating digital panoramic images with a field of view between 180 to 360 degrees is known and many approaches have been considered. When making digital panoramic images of this nature, it is desired to eliminate seams in the digital panoramic images so that the three-dimensional illusion is realistic and continuous. One prior an technique for creating digital panoramic images makes use of a conventional photographic camera to take a sequence of photographs of a panoramic scene to be digitally imaged. Once the sequence of photographs has been taken, the film is developed and the developed photographs are digitized and stored in computer memory. Graphics software stored in the computer is used to align manually the digitized photographs (a process referred to as stitching) to form the digital panoramic image.

Another prior an technique for creating digital panoramic images involves the use of a digital camera to take a sequence of digital photographs. The digital camera is then plugged directly into the computer to allow the digital photographs to be downloaded into computer memory. Again, graphics software is used to stitch manually the digitized photographs together to form the digital panoramic image.

Yet another prior art technique for creating digital panoramic images makes use of a strip camera which rests on a motorized tripod to take a single, continuous panoramic photograph of the desired scene. Once the panoramic photograph has been taken, the film is developed and the developed photograph is digitized and stored in computer memory.

Unfortunately, the above-described techniques for creating digital panoramic images suffer from disadvantages. In particular, when a conventional camera or a strip camera is used to take the photographs, the steps of developing and digitizing the film are inconvenient and time consuming. Also, strip cameras are prohibitively expensive. Furthermore, the use of conventional and strip cameras present lighting difficulties. In addition, after the photographs have been digitized and stored in computer memory, it is extremely difficult to stitch manually the digitized photographs together in a manner to eliminate the seams using the graphics software. It has been found that one 360 degree digital panoramic image can take hours to stitch together. Accordingly, improved techniques for creating digital panoramic images are desired.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a novel method and apparatus for creating seamless digital panoramic images from video footage of a panoramic scene of interest.

Summary Of The Invention

According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video footage comprising the steps of: rotating a video camera at a generally constant speed while said video camera is recording to capture video footage of a panoramic scene of interest; after said video footage has been captured, storing said video footage as a digital video file in a computer for processing; and processing said digital video file to create a seamless digital panoramic image of said panoramic scene of interest. Preferably, during recording of the panoramic scene of interest, the video camera is rotated 360° and at a speed equal to about 1.5 rpms. During processing of the digital video file, it is preferred that slices are cut from digital frames in the digital video file corresponding to frames of the video footage. The slices are reassembled to create the digital panoramic image. According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video footage comprising: a video camera to capture video footage of a panoramic scene of interest; a roundabout on which said video camera is mounted, said roundabout being actuable to rotate said video camera about an axis generally at a constant speed to sweep said video camera about said panoramic scene of interest; and a processor to receive video footage captured by said video camera, said processor storing said video footage as a digiul video file and processing said digital video file to create said seamless digital panoramic image.

Preferably, the roundabout includes a housing, a turntable on the housing supporting the video camera, a motor within the housing to rotate the turntable and a power supply to power the motor. It is also preferred that the power supply includes at least one battery holder in the housing holding batteries. A speed control circuit is also provided in the housing and acts between the batteries and the motor. The speed control circuit supplies a fixed voltage to the motor so that the motor rotates at a speed such that the video camera routes at a speed equal to about 1.5 rpms. In a preferred embodiment, the roundabout includes a battery power monitor including a comparison circuit to compare the voltage of the batteries with a predetermined threshold. When the voluge of the batteries is above the predetermined threshold, a first indicator is illuminated and when the voltage of the batteries is below the predetermined threshold, a second indicator is illuminated. During processing of the digiul video file, it is preferred that the processor cuts slices from digital frames in the digiul video file corresponding to frames of the video foouge and re-assembles the slices to create the digital panoramic image.

The present invention provides advantages in that the stitching process is automated making it fast and simple to create seamless digital panoramic images from video foouge of a panoramic scene of interest. Also, the use of a video camera and roundabout to capture the video foouge of the panoramic scene of interest avoids the problems associated with developing and digitizing photographs and makes the process of creating digital panoramic images less expensive, fast, efficient and accessible to the home-market.

Brief Description Of The Drawings

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 illustrates an apparatus for creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video footage of a panoramic scene of interest in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 2 is a perspective view, partially cut-away, of a roundabout forming pan of the apparatus of Figure 1; Figure 3 a is a top plan view of a base forming pan of the roundabout of

Figure 2;

Figure 3b is a front elevational view of the base of Figure 3a taken in the direction of arrow 3b;

Figure 3 c is a side elevational view of the base of Figure 3 a taken in the direction of arrow 3c;

Figure 4a is a top plan view of a cover forming part of the roundabout of Figure 2;

Figure 4b is a front elevational view of the cover of Figure 4a taken in the direction of arrow 4b; Figure 4c is a side elevational view of the cover of Figure 4a taken in the direction of arrow 4c;

Figure 5 is a front elevational view of a door forming part of the roundabout of Figure 2;

Figure 6a is a top plan view of a turntable top plate forming part of the roundabout of Figure 2; Figure 6b is a front elevaύonal view of the tumuble top plate of Figure 6a

Figure 7 is a circuit diagram of a speed control circuit forming pan of the roundabout of Figure 2; Figure 8 is a flowchaπ illustrating the steps performed when creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video foouge of a panoramic scene of interest using the apparatus of Figure 1;

Figure 9 is a flowchart illustrating the steps performed during execution of panorama creation software; and Figure 10 is a flowchaπ illustrating the steps performed during execution of an alternative embodiment of panorama creation software.

Detailed Description Of The Preferred Embodiments

Referring now to Figure 1, an apparatus for creating a seamless digiul panoramic image from video foouge of a panoramic scene of interest in accordance with the present invention is shown and is generally indicated to by reference numeral 10. Apparatus 10 includes a video camera 12 mounted on a roundabout 13 for routing the video camera 12. Roundabout 13 is mounted on a conventional tripod 14 having leveling adjustments. The video camera 12 is preferably a Hi8 or digital video camera and is connecuble to a personal computer 16. Computer 16 includes a video capture card to allow a digiul video file of video footage of a panoramic scene of interest recorded by the video camera 12 to be created and stored in memory within the computer. Panorama creation software loaded onto the computer 16 is executable to allow digital video files stored in memory to be processed to create seamless digital panoramic images.

Turning now to Figures 2 to 6a, the roundabout 13 is better illustrated. As can be seen, the roundabout includes a generally rectangular box-shaped housing 30 constituted by a base 32, a cover 34 and a door 36. The base 32 is generally U- shaped in side elevation and includes a bottom plate 40 and a pair of opposed upright front and rear walls 42 and 44 respectively. A central aperture 46 is provided in the bottom plate 40 to accommodate a screw (not shown) extending upwardly from the tripod 14. A rectangular opening 48 is provided in the front wall 42 to permit access to the interior of the roundabout 13.

The cover 34 includes a top plate 50 and a pair of opposed depending side walls 52 and 54 respectively. Flanges 56 extend from the peripheral side edges of the side walls 52 and 54 and from the front and rear peripheral edges of the top plate 50 to overlie the front and rear walls 42 and 44 of the base 32. Fasteners (not shown) pass through aligned holes 58 in the flanges 56 and front and rear walls 52 and 54 to secure the base 32 and cover 34 together. The door 36 is provided on the front wall 42 and is pivotable between open and closed positions to cover the opening 48. A turntable top plate 60 is rouubly mounted on the top plaie 50 and can rotate through 360° (i.e. a complete revolution). A slot 62 is provided in the turntable top plate 60 to accommodate a fastener (not shown) which releasably secures the video camera 12 to the turntable top plate 60. Battery holders 64 are secured to the inside surfaces of the side walls

52 and 54 by fasteners (not shown). Each battery holder 64 accommodates a plurality of baπeries 66 (see Figure 7) and opens in a direction towards the opening 48 to facilitate replacement of the batteries when the door 36 is opened.

A gear casing 68 containing a gear train (not shown) is secured to the undersurface of the top plate 50. A motor 70 is fastened to the gear casing 68 and has a drive shaft (not shown) coupled to the gear train. The gear train has an output shaft (not shown) coupled to the turntable top plate 60.

Secured to side wall 52 above the battery bolder 64 is a circuit board 72 on which a speed control circuit 74 is mounted (see Figure 7). A wire 76 is connected to the positive terminals of the baπeries 66 and to an input terminal 78 of the speed control circuit 74. A wire 80 is connected to the negative terminals of the baπeries 66 and to an output terminal 82 of the speed control circuit 74. Wires 84 and 86 also extend from terminals 88 and 90 respectively of the speed control circuit 74 and lead to terminals of the motor 70. A hole (not shown) is provided in the side wall 52 through which the arm 94 of a toggle switch 96 extends. Referring now to Figure 7, the speed control circuit 74 is beπer illustrated. As can be seen, the toggle switch 96 has one terminal connected to input terminal 78 to which wire 76 leading to the positive terminals of the baπeries 66 is connected. The other terminal of the toggle switch 96 is connected to the Vin pin of a 5 voluge regulator VR and to a voluge divider 98 constimted by resistors Rl , R2 and R3. The voltage divider 98 is also connected to output terminal 82. The output of voltage divider 98 is supplied to the non-inveπing terminal of one comparator Cl and to the inverting terminal of a second comparator C2.

The inverting terminal of comparator C I and the non-inverting l o terminal of comparator C2 are coupled and are connected to one terminal of a resistor R4 and to the cathode of a zener diode Zl. The anode of zeπer diode 21 is connected to the output terminal 82. The other terminal of resistor R4 is connected to the toggle switch 96. The output terminal of comparator Cl is connected to the anode of a green light emiπing diode LED1. The cathode of the green light emitting diode LED1 is

15 connected to the toggle switch 96 through a current limiting resistor R5.

The output terminal of the comparator C2 is connected to the anode of a red light emitting diode LED2. The cathode of the red light emiπing diode LED2 is connected to the output terminal of comparator Cl as well as to the toggle switch 96 through a current limiting resistor R6.

20 The Vout pin of voltage regulator VR is connected to terminal 88. The

A J pin of the voltage regulator VR is coupled to the Vout pin by way of a resistor R7 and is connected to the output terminal 82 via a resistor R8. The terminal 90 is connected to the output terminal 82.

When it is desired to create a seamless digiul panoramic image from

25 video foouge of a panoramic scene of interest, the video foouge must first be captured. Once the video footage is captured, it is downloaded into the computer 16 via the video capture card. The panoramic creation software is then executed to convert the video footage into the digital panoramic image.

During the step of capturing the video footage, the video camera

30 settings are adjusted. Specifically the video camera "Steady Shot" is turned on, the focus is set to "manual-infinity", the zoom feature of the video camera 12 is brought to its widest possible angle and a .42x wide angle lens is placed on the video camera 12. The toggle switch 96 is then closed and the. video camera is set to record.

When the toggle switch 96 is closed, the baπeries 66 supply power to the speed control circuit 74. With the toggle switch 96 closed, the resistor R4 and zeπer diode Zl function to supply a fixed reference voltage to the non-inverting input terminal of comparator 02 and to the inverting terminal of comparator Cl. The voltage divider 98 supplies a voltage to the inverting terminal of comparator C2 and to the non-inverting terminal of comparator Cl. When the baπery voltage is above a threshold level, the voltage supplied to the comparators Cl and C2 by the voltage divider 98 is greater than the fixed reference voluge. In this situation, the output of comparator Cl is high resulting in current flow through the green light emiπing diode LED I causing it to illuminate. The light emiπing diode LEDl is visible through a hole (not shown) in the side wall 52. When the baπery voltage falls below the threshold value, the voltage supplied to comparators Cl and C2 by the voltage divider is less than the fixed reference voluge. in this situation, the output of comparator C2 is high resulting in current flow through the red light emitting diode LED2 causing it to illuminate signifying a low baπery level condition. The light emiπing diode LED2 is also visible through the hole. The voluge regulator VR supplies a constant voltage, regulated by the resistors R7 and R8, to the motor 70 causing the motor shaft to rotate at a constant speed.

As the motor shaft routes, roution is imparted to the turntable top plate 60 by way of the gear train so that the turntable top plate completes a 360° revolution in 40 seconds (i.e. the rumuble rotates at a speed equal to about 1.5 rpms). During rotation, the video camera 12 captures video foouge of the panoramic scene of interest. Once a complete revolution has occurred, the video camera 12 is stopped and then the toggle switch 96 is opened to stop the roundabout 13. The video footage capture process takes approximately 60 seconds to complete.

Once the video capture step (see block 100 in Figure 8) described above has been completed, the video camera 12 is connected to the video capπire card in the computer 16. The tape onto which the panoramic scene has been recorded is rewound and is then played. At the same time, the recording mechanism in the hardware of the video capture card is activated. The video capture card in nun digitizes the video footage and stores the digitized video footage in a digital video file

5 when an analog video camera 12 is used and simply stores the digitized video footage in a digital video file when a digiul video camera is used (block 102). This process continues until enough video foouge has been stored to represent the panoramic scene of interest. At this point in time, the video camera 12 and the recording mechanism of the video capture card are turned off. o After the digital video file has been created, the panorama creation software is executed to create the seamless digiul panoramic image (block 104). During execution of the panorama creation software, the user is prompted to enter a value S which represents the pixel-width of slices to be taken from the digitized frames stored in the digital video file, where S is in the range of 0.0>S< 5 max_frame_width. The digital video file is then loaded into the panorama creation software and the file pointer is set to the first frame of the digital video file (see block 1 10 in Figure 9). The panorama creation software then creates an output file or bitmap which is large enough to hold (S x N) veπical scan lines of each frame of digital video where N is equal to the number of frames to be used to create the 0 seamless digital panoramic image (block 112).

Following the above, the starling destination address in the bitmap is set (block 114) and then the center of the first frame of the digiul video is located (block 116). The center is determined by calculating SX/2 where SX is equal to the horizontal size of the first frame of the digital video and then moving from the left or 5 right edge of the bitmap depending on the direction the video camera was rotated, by the calculated amount. Once the center of the first frame of digiul video is determined and the destination address has been set, a slice from the center of the first frame having a pixel-width determined by the value assigned to S is taken (block 118). Once the slice has been cut from the center of the first frame, pixel strips from the slice are pasted into the bitmap to begin generating the final digital panoramic image (block 119). Pixel strips taken from the slice can be no more than one pixel wide i.e. X<i where X is equal to the width of the pixel strip. When pasting pixel strips from the slice, the end pixel snip in the bitmap is added on each relevant column of pixels from the slice. For example, if the slice cut from the frame is 12 pixel strips wide and if 4.5 pixel strips of the slice are to be pasted into the bitmap, the center of the slice is first determined (12/2 ~ 6). The starting pixel strip to one side of the slice center to be pasted into the bitmap is then determined (6 - 4.5/2 - 3.75). Once the starting pixel strip from the slice is determined, 4.5 pixel strips from the slice are pasted into the bitmap starting from the 3.75"1 pixel strip of the slice. Thus, in this example, the following pixel strips are pasted into the bitmap: a 0.25 pixel wide strip from the third pixel strip; a 1.0 pixel wide snip from the fourth pixel strip; a 1.0 pixel wide strip from the fifth pixel strip; a 1.0 pixel wide strip from the sixth pixel strip; a 1.0 pixel wide strip from the seventh pixel strip; and a 0.25 pixel wide strip from the eighth pixel strip. As the final digital panoramic image is created by pasting pixel strips from the slice into the bitmap, the pixel width of the final digital panoramic image increases by X.

When pasting a pixel strip into the bitmap, the strip is examined to determine if the pixel strip crosses a pixel boundary. If the pixel strip crosses a pixel boundary, it is broken into two pixel strips, one pixel strip of N pixels and one pixel strip of X-N pixels. If the pixel strip does not cross a pixel boundary it is not broken. In either case, the Red/Green/Blue pixel values of the pixels in the source strip are multiplied by the width X and the pixel strip is pasted into the bitmap.

For example, if the current pixel width of the final digiul panoramic image is equal to 0.3 and a 0.25 wide pixel strip is to be added to the final image, the pixels in the source strip are multiplied by 0.25 and the pixels are added to corresponding pixels in the final image. The new width of the final digital panoramic image would then become equal to 0.55.

If the current width of the final digital panoramic image is equal to 11.8 and a pixel strip having a width equal to 0.4 is to be added to the final digital

5 panoramic image, the pixel strip is broken because it crosses a pixel boundary. Thus, a 0.2 pixel wide strip is added to the corresponding pixels of the 11* pixel strip location in the final digiul panoramic image and a 0.2 pixel wide strip is pasted into the bitmap at the \2m pixel strip location.

After the slice has been cut from the first frame and the pixel strips l o copied to the bitmap, the file pointer is set to the next frame of the digital video file. The above steps are then re-performed.

During this process, the panorama creation software keeps a running toul so that the average pixel-width of the slices cut from the frames is equal to the entered value S. If the entered value S is equal to an even number, the pixel-width of

15 the slice cut from the center of each frame is equal. However, if the entered value S is not equal to an even number this is not the case. For example, if S is assigned a value equal to 2.5, a two pixel-wide slice is cut from the center of the first frame. A three pixel-wide slice is then cut from the center of the second frame so that the average pixel-width of the slices cut from the frames is equal to the value S.

20 After a slice has been cut from the center of a frame, the digital video file is checked to determine if the end of the file (EOF) has been reached (block 120) or if enough digiul information has been copied into the bitmap to complete the seamless digital panoramic image (block 122). If neither of the above conditions has been met, the file pointer is mdexed to the next frame (block 124), the center of that

25 frame is located (block 116), a slice is cut from the center of the frame (block 118) and the above described steps are performed again. However if either of the conditions is met, the bitmap is saved as a bitmap (*.bmp) file which represents the seamless digital panoramic image (block 126).

Once the bitmap file is saved, it is imported into Adobe Photoshop®

30 where the digital panoramic image is colour-corrected and re-sized. The digital panoramic image is then saved as a JPEG file and compressed to a file size in the range of from about 50 to 60 Kb.

Alternatively, if desired a dynamic process can be used to cut the slices from the center of the video frames. In this case, the panorama creation software allows a user to change the pixel-width of the slices to be cut from each frame as a function of time, using a spline curve presented on the monitor of the computer 16.

The spline curve allows points to be added to and manipulated on the spline curve.

When a point on the spline curve is at the top of the window displaying the video frames, the slice cut from the corresponding video frame at that point is assigned a pixel-width equal to a maximum value entered by a user when the digital video file is loaded into the panoramic creation software. The end result is that the slices cut from the video frames may vary significantly and randomly.

Referring now to Figure 10, the operation of yet another embodiment of the panorama creation software is illustrated. In this embodiment, after the digiul video file has been created and the user has assigned a value to S, the digital video file is loaded into the panorama creation software and the file pointer is set to the first frame of the digital video in the digital video file (block 210). The panorama creation software then creates an output file or bitmap which is large enough to hold (S x N) vertical scan lines (block 212). Following this, the starring destination address of the bitmap is set either to the left edge or right edge of the bitmap depending on the direction the video camera was routed by the roundabout 1 (block 214).

A reference filter PMatrix in the form of a 16 x 16 matrix of pixels is then grabbed from the center of the first frame of digital video (block 216). A slice of the first frame having a width equal to S is then cut from the first frame and pixel strips from the slice are pasted into the bitmap beginning at the starting destination address (block 218). The file pointer is then indexed to the next frame of digital video

(block 220).

After this, the next frame of digiul video is scanned using the reference filter PMatrix (block 222). In particular, another matrix CMatrix is taken from the current frame and the filter PMatrix and matrix CMatrix are compared using a weighted averaging algorithm. The matrices are compared on a pixel-by-pixel basis and a match percentage for each compaπson is generated. The generated percentages are added to form a running toul for the entire matrix compare operation. After the compare operation is completed, the running total is divided by the number of pixels in the filter PMatrix to yield a match pcrcenuge for the matrix comparison. If the match percentage is within an adjusuble, user-selected tolerance, the position of the slice to be cut from the cuπent frame is calculated by determining the offset of the matrix CMatrix from the center of the current frame, taking into account the direction that the video camera was rotated during capture of the panoramic scene (block 224). If the match percentage for the matrix comparison is outside of the tolerance, another matrix CMatrix is taken from the current frame, and the above steps are re-performed. Once the position of the slice to be cut from the cuπeπt frame of digital video is determined, the slice is taken (block 226) and pixel strips from the slice are copied into the bitmap in the manner described previously to begin generating the final digiul panoramic image (block 227). After a slice has been cut from the center of a frame, the digiul video file is checked to determine if the end of the file (EOF) has been reached (block 228) or if enough digital information has been copied into the bitmap to complete the seamless digital panoramic image (block 230). If neither of the above conditions has been met, the panorama creation software re-performs the above-described steps. However if either of the conditions is met, the bitmap is saved as a file which represents the seamless digiul panoramic image (block 232).

Although the panorama creation software allows for some tilt eπor during the recordal of the panoramic scene of interest, care should be taken using the level adjustments of the tπpod 14 to avoid tilting of the video camera 12. The present invention provides advanuges in that the stitching process is automated making it fast and simple to create a seamless digiul panoramic image from video footage of a panoramic scene of interest. Also, the use of a video camera and roundabout to record the panoramic scene of interest avoids the problems associated with developing and digitizing photographs. Although particular embodiments of the present invention have been described, those of skill in the an will appreciate that other variations and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope thereof as defined by the appended claims.

Claims

We Claim:
1. A method of creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video footage comprising the steps of: rotating a video camera at a generally constant speed while said video camera is recording to capture video footage of a panoramic scene of interest; after said video foouge has been captured, storing said video footage as a digital video file in a computer for processing; and processing said digital video file to create a seamless digital panoramic image of said panoramic scene of interest.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein during recording of said panoramic scene of interest, said video camera is routed 360 degrees.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein said video camera is rotated at a speed equal to about 1.5 rpms.
4. The method of claim 3 fuπher comprising the steps of during processing of said digiul video file, cuning slices from digital frames in said digiul video file corresponding to frames of said video foouge and reassembling said slices to create said digiul panoramic image.
. The method of claim 4 further comprising the steps of reassembling said slices in a bitmap file and thereafter, colour-correcting and re-sizing said bitmap file.
6. An apparatus for creating a seamless digital panoramic image from video foouge comprising: a video camera to capture video footage of a panoramic scene of interest; a roundabout on which said video camera is mounted, said roundabout being actuable to rotate said video camera about an axis generally at a constant speed to sweep said video camera about said panoramic scene of interest; and a processor to receive video foouge captured by said video camera, said processor storing said video footage as a digital video file and processing said digital video file to create said seamless digital panoramic image.
7. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 wherein said roundabout is actuable to rotate said video camera at a speed equal to about 1.5 rpms.
8. An apparatus as defined in claim 6 wherein said roundabout includes a housing; a turntable on said housing, said video camera being mounted on said turntable; a motor within said housing to route said turntable; and a power supply to supply power to said motor.
9. An apparatus as defined in claim 8 wherein said power supply includes at least one baπery holder within said housing holding baπeries electrically connecuble to said motor.
10. An apparatus as defined in claim 9 further comprising a speed control circuit within said housing and acting between said power supply and said motor, said speed control circuit being electrically connecuble to said baπeries and supplying a fixed voluge to said motor when connected to said baneries.
11. An apparatus as defined in claim 10 wherein said speed control circuit includes a baπery power monitor to monitor the charge of said baπeries.
12. An apparatus as defined in claim 11 wherein said baπery power monitor includes a comparison circuit to compare the voltage of said baneries with a predetermined threshold, said baπery power monitor actuating a first indicator when said voltage is above said predetermined threshold and acmating a second indicator when said voluge is below said predetermined threshold.
13. An apparatus as defined in claim 12 wherein said first indicator is a first colored LED and wherein said second indicator is a second colored LED.
14. An apparatus as defined in claim 13 wherein said comparison circuit includes first and second comparators, said first comparator driving said first coloured LED when said voltage is above said predetermined threshold, said second comparator driving said second colored LED when said voluge is below said predetermined threshold.
15. An apparatus as defined in claim 12 wherein said roundabout further comprises a gear train within said housing and acting between said motor and said turntable.
16. An apparatus as denned in claim 10 wherein said processor cuts slices from digital frames in said digital video file corresponding to frames of said video footage and reassembles said slices to create said digiul panoramic image.
17. An apparatus as defined in claim 16 wherein said processor stores said reassembled slices in a bitmap file and colour-corrects and re-sizes said bitmap file.
18. An apparatus as defined in claim 17 wherein each slice cut from a digital frame is in the range of from abut 0.0 > S> max_frame_width where S represents the pixel-width of each slice and wherein max_frame_width is the pixel- width of each digiul frame.
19. An apparatus as defined in claim 18 wherein S is user selectable.
PCT/US1999/010500 1998-05-28 1999-05-12 Method and apparatus for creating seamless digital panoramic images WO1999062252A1 (en)

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