3D Modeling from Video

The Australian Centre for Visual Technologies has developed a prototype of VideoTrace, a tool for creating three-dimensional models from video footage. It will make more sense if you watch their video demo at http://www.acvt.com.au/research/videotrace/

video-trace.jpgAlthough it’s a bit routine at the beginning, hang in there until the midpoint when the capabilities of this technology become apparent.

I wonder about the possibility of using technology like this to create models of lost worlds from archival film footage. Consider, for example, the 14-minute continuous traveling shot of San Francisco’s Market Street from 1905 (full video on Archive.org):

sf-1905.jpgWould the change in perspective as the camera travels down the street be sufficient to use a tool like this to develop a 3D model of the street scene? Imagine strolling down a virtual model of San Francisco’s Market Street in 1905 — one year before the quake and subsequent fire destroyed most of the buildings in this scene. (Although, thankfully, not the Flood Building seen near the middle of the left-hand side of the street.)

Somewhere in the vaults of Hollywood studios must be miles of similar footage used for rear projection shots displayed in the back window of vehicles to make them appear to be moving. Could we use these to reconstruct Park Avenue in the 1950s or 42nd Street in the 1970s and so on? The mind reels at the possibilities.

[Via Adobe’s John Nack.]

Image from VideoTrace is a screenshot from a copyrighted film, the copyright for which is believed to be owned by the University of Adelaide. For usage rights, see http://www.adelaide.edu.au/legals/copyright.html.

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