Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Community Photo Collections

Noah Snavely, Ian Simon, Michael Goesele, Rick Szeliski, Steven M. Seitz

Proceedings of the IEEE | , Vol 98(8)

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There are billions of photographs on the Internet, representing an extremely large, rich, and nearly comprehensive visual record of virtually every famous place on Earth. Unfortunately, these massive community photo collections are almost completely unstructured, making it very difficult to use them for applications such as the virtual exploration of our world. Over the past several years, advances in computer vision have made it possible to automatically reconstruct 3-D geometry including camera positions and scene models from these large, diverse photo collections. Once the geometry is known, we can recover higher level information from the spatial distribution of photos, such as the most common viewpoints and paths through the scene. This paper reviews recent progress on these challenging computer vision problems, and describes how we can use the recovered structure to turn community photo collections into immersive, interactive 3-D experiences.