Date of Award

4-2017

Degree Name

MS in Computer Science

Department

Computer Science

Advisor

Zoë Wood

Abstract

As technology use increases in the world and inundates everyday life, the visual aspect of technology or computer graphics becomes increasingly important. This thesis presents a system for the automatic generation of virtual camera paths for fly-throughs of a digital scene. The sample scene used in this work is an underwater setting featuring a shipwreck model with other virtual underwater elements such as rocks, bubbles and caustics. The digital shipwreck model was reconstructed from an actual World War II shipwreck, resting off the coast of Malta. Video and sonar scans from an autonomous underwater vehicle were used in a photogrammetry pipeline to create the model.

This thesis presents an algorithm to automatically generate virtual camera paths using a robotics motion planning algorithm, specifically the probabilistic roadmap. This algorithm uses a rapidly-exploring random tree to quickly cover a space and generate small maps with good coverage. For this work, the camera pitch and height along a specified path were automatically generated using cinematographic and geometric principles. These principles were used to evaluate potential viewpoints and influence whether or not a view is used in the final path. A computational evaluation of ‘the rule of thirds’ and evaluation of the model normals relative to the camera viewpoint are used to represent cinematography and geometry principles.

In addition to the system that automatically generates virtual camera paths, a user study is presented which evaluates ten different videos produced via camera paths with this system. The videos were created using different viewpoint evaluation methods and different path generation characteristics. The user study indicates that users prefer paths generated by our system over flat and randomly generated paths. Specifically, users prefer paths generated using the computational evaluation of the rule of thirds and paths that show the wreck from a large variety of angles but without too much camera undulation.

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