3D pose estimation of flying animals in multi-view video datasets
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Flying animals such as bats, birds, and moths are actively studied by researchers wanting to better understand these animals’ behavior and flight characteristics. Towards this goal, multi-view videos of flying animals have been recorded both in lab- oratory conditions and natural habitats. The analysis of these videos has shifted over time from manual inspection by scientists to more automated and quantitative approaches based on computer vision algorithms. This thesis describes a study on the largely unexplored problem of 3D pose estimation of flying animals in multi-view video data. This problem has received little attention in the computer vision community where few flying animal datasets exist. Additionally, published solutions from researchers in the natural sciences have not taken full advantage of advancements in computer vision research. This thesis addresses this gap by proposing three different approaches for 3D pose estimation of flying animals in multi-view video datasets, which evolve from successful pose estimation paradigms used in computer vision. The first approach models the appearance of a flying animal with a synthetic 3D graphics model and then uses a Markov Random Field to model 3D pose estimation over time as a single optimization problem. The second approach builds on the success of Pictorial Structures models and further improves them for the case where only a sparse set of landmarks are annotated in training data. The proposed approach first discovers parts from regions of the training images that are not annotated. The discovered parts are then used to generate more accurate appearance likelihood terms which in turn produce more accurate landmark localizations. The third approach takes advantage of the success of deep learning models and adapts existing deep architectures to perform landmark localization. Both the second and third approaches perform 3D pose estimation by first obtaining accurate localization of key landmarks in individual views, and then using calibrated cameras and camera geometry to reconstruct the 3D position of key landmarks. This thesis shows that the proposed algorithms generate first-of-a-kind and leading results on real world datasets of bats and moths, respectively. Furthermore, a variety of resources are made freely available to the public to further strengthen the connection between research communities.
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