2. 3-D Imaging Models

Sonka Ch 9.

Part I of this course, on early vision, is concerned with the most basic vision tasks, such as determining the depth of a given image feature from the camera, or estimating egomotion (camera self-motion).

Part I will take us up to the midterm exam.

We first consider the traditional passive vision approach, and then the more recent active vision approach to early vision.

Passive early vision

3-D Imaging models

In passive vision analysis, we work closely with our imaging system's imaging model, that is, its quantitative mapping from 3-D scenes to 2-D images. Then the main job can be undertaken: to invert the imaging model, that is, recover the 3-D scene. Recall that Passive Vision is synonymous with Vision as Recovery.

Camera model

In order to have a quantitative description of how a given camera views the real world, we need a camera model.

This is a mapping C: \(R^3 \rightarrow R^2\) which specifies how the 3D scene will appear on the 2D image plane of the camera. A camera model supports two types of parameters:

Intrinsic parameters
properties of the camera itself, which do not change as the position and orientation of the camera in space are changed.
Extrinsic parameters
those which change with position and orientation of the camera.

Both sets of parameters must be completely specified before the camera model C: \(R^3 \rightarrow R^2\) is known and we can predict the 2D image on the image plane that derives from any given 3D scene.

Perspective projection

The geometry of perspective projection is used to develop the camera model.

Define a ray as a half-line beginning at the origin.

All points on a given ray R will map into the single point r in the image plane.

The set of all such mappings is the perspective projection.

Formally, let x and x' be nonzero vectors in \(R^{n+1}\) (we will use n=2) and define \(x \equiv x'\) (x is equivalent to x') if and only if \(x' \propto x\).

Then the quotient space of this equivalence relation (set of equivalence classes) is \(P^n\), the projective space associated with the Euclidean space \(R^{n+1}\).

Note that the projective space is lower-dimensional than the Euclidean space (dim = 2 vs 3).

Informally, points in \(P^2\) can be thought of, and represented, as follows. Take a point in \(R^3\), say \([x,y,z]^T\), write as \(z [x/z,y/z,1]^T\) (\(z \ne 0\)). Then \([x,y,z]^T\) in \(R^3\) maps into the point \(r = [x/z,y/z]\) in \(P^2\).


\([30, 15, 5]^T \rightarrow [6, 3]^T\)

\([3, 3/2, 1/2]^T \rightarrow [6, 3]^T\)

So these two points in \(R^3\) project to the same point [6 3] in the projective space \(P^2\).

The pinhole (single perspective) camera model

This is the simplest possible lensless camera model. Conceptually, all light passes through a vanishingly small pinhole at the origin and illuminates an image plane beneath it. The geometry here will be quite simple. Most of the work in understanding the model will be in keeping several distinct coordinate systems straight.

World coordinates. Origin at some arbitrary scene point in \(R^3\).
Camera coordinates. Origin at the focal point in \(R^3\).
Image coordinates. Origin in the image plane, axes aligned with camera coordinate axes.
Image affine coordinates. Same origin as image coordinates but u and Xi axes may not coincide (others do coincide), and there may be a scaling.

Recall that the camera model is a mapping C: \(R^3 \rightarrow R^2\) which takes us from world 3D coordinates to (u,v) image affine coordinates. We will develop the camera model in three steps:

Step 1. \((x_w,y_w,z_w) \rightarrow (x_c,y_c,z_c)\) world to camera coords.

These two 3D Euclidean coordinate systems differ by a translation of the origin, and a rotation in \(R^3\), i.e. by an affine transformation.

This coordinate transformation is given by

\(X_c = R(X_w-t)\)


\(X_w = [x_w,y_w,z_w]^T\)
3D point expressed in world coordinates;
\(X_c = [x_c,y_c,z_c]^T\)
same point in camera coordinates;
3x3 rotation matrix (pitch, roll, yaw);
translation vector (origin of camera coordinates expressed in world coordinates).

Note that R and t are extrinsic parameters of the camera model, since they change with change of camera location (t) and orientation (R).

Step 2: Project the point in camera coordinates onto the image plane, keeping camera coordinates.

The coordinates of the corresponding point in the image plane, retaining camera coordinates, are

\(U_c = [-f x_c/z_c, -fy_c/z_c, -f]^T\)

Step 3: \(U_c \rightarrow (u,v)\), the image affine coordinates in the image plane. The image affine coordinates are related to the \(U_c\) camera coordinates projected onto the image plane \([-f x_c/z_c, -fy_c/z_c]^T\) by a further translation of the origin, scaling, and possible shear of the x-axis (rotation of the x axis with respect to the y axis).

\([u,v]^T = S [-f x_c/z_c, -f y_c/z_c]^T - [u_0, v_0]^T\)


\([u, v]^T\)
final image affine coords in the image plane
2x2 matrix of form [a b; 0 c]
\([u_0, v_0]^T\)
principal point expressed in image affine coordinates.

The S-matrix represents the scaling (a,c) and shear of the x-axis (b). The vector \([u_0, v_0 ]^T\) is the translation of the origin between the Euclidean image coordinates and the affine image coordinates in \(R^2\).

This set of results can be expressed in a compact way using homogeneous coordinates. These are coordinate vectors whose last entry is the constant value 1. Let

\([u,v,1] = [a, b, -u_0; 0, c, -v_0 ; 0,0,1][-f x_c/z_c, -f y_c/z_c, 1]^T\)

\(= [-fa,-fb,-u_0; 0,-fc,-v_0; 0,0,1] [x_c/z_c, y_c/z_c, 1]^T\)

which agrees with the translation, scaling and shear coord transformation equation of the preceding slide.

Designating the 3x3 matrix as K, the camera calibration matrix and multiplying by \(z_c\) we get

\(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K [x_c, y_c, z_c]^T\)

Note that the camera calibration matrix K contains the intrinsic parameters of the camera model, those that do not change as we relocate and reorient the camera. So putting the pieces from Step 1 and Step 3 together,

\(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K [x_c, y_c, z_c ]^T\)

and recalling the relationship between camera and world coords: Pinhole camera model:

\(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K R ([x_w, y_w, z_w ]^T - t)\)

The completes the camera model PCM, which maps points from world coordinates \([x_w, y_w, z_w]^T\) in \(R^3\) to image coordinates \([u,v]^T\) in \(R^2\).

To use the PCM, we must know both the extrinsic parameters (R, t) and the intrinsic parameters (K). Then for any input world point \([x_w, y_w, z_w ]^T\) we substitute into the right hand side, and after evaluating the RHS, convert the result to homogeneous coordinates by factoring out the value of the last (third) coord to get the desired form \(z_c [u, v, 1]^T\).


Extrinsic parameters
Assume the camera coordinates represent a +30 degree cw rotation in the xy plane relative to the world coordinates, and that the origin of the world coordinate system is located at \([2,2,0]^T\) in camera coords.
f=4, the image coords \((u,v)\) are both scaled by 2 relative to the

camera coords, there is no shear, and the image affine coord origin is at the principal point of the camera. Find the \((u,v)\) location of the world point \([9,3,3]^T\) and the ray that maps to that point.


R = [cos 30 sin 30 0
    -sin 30 cos 30 0
     0      0      1]
= [.866 .5   0
   -.5  .866 0
     0   0   1]

t : \(X_c = R( X_w - t)\) since \(X_w =[0,0,0]^T\) is the world origin, \(X_c = R(-t)\) yielding \(t = -R^{-1} X_c \)

= [.866 -.5  0    [2
   .5   .866 0  *  2
   0    0    1]    0]
= [.732;2.732;0]


\(K = [-fa,-fb,-u_0; 0,-fc,-v_0; 0,0,1]\) where f=4, a=c=2 and b=0, \(u_0=v_0=0\), so

K = [-8 0 0; 0 -8 0; 0 0 1]

Substituting these values into the camera model \(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K R ([x_w, y_w, z_w]^T - t)\) the world point \([9,3,3]^T\) maps to the homogeneous affine image coordinates \(K R ([9,3,3]^T - t) = K R [8.268,.268,3]^T\) \(= [-58.4,+31.2,+3]^T\) \(= 3[-19.5,+10.4,1]\)

So \((u,v) = (-19.5,+10.4)\) in affine image coords on the image plane.

Also, the camera coordinates of the world point \([9,3,3]^T\) are \(X_c = R ( X_w - t)\) and substituting the values we have for R and t,

X_c  = [.866 .5 0; -.5 .866 0; 0 0 1]*[8.27;.268;3]
= [7.29;-3.90;3]

In homogeneous coordinates this is \(X_c = 3 [2.43, -1.3, 1]\) So in camera coordinates, the ray constitutes the set of points \(\alpha [2.43,-1.3,1]\) for positive scalars \(\alpha\).

The pinhole camera model PCM: \([x_w, y_w, z_w]^T \rightarrow [u,v]^T\) \(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K R ([x_w, y_w, z_w]^T - t)\) can be put into an even more useful linear form by expressing the world coordinates homogeneously. \(z_c [u, v, 1]^T= [K*R, -K*R*t][ X_w ;1]\)

Or using homogeneous notation \(\tilde{u} = z_c [u, v, 1]^T\), \(\tilde{X_w} = [x_w, y_w, z_w 1]^T\) we have the camera model in homogeneous coordinates \(\tilde{u} = M \tilde{X_w}\) where M is the 3x4 matrix \(M = [K*R, -K*R*t]\) called the projective matrix.

Determining the projective matrix M

The easiest way to determine M is by determining the image of a known scene, one in which the world coordinates of a number of points are known and their corresponding image points are also known.

As shown in Sonka 2/e eq. (9.14) p. 455, each \((x,y,z) \rightarrow (u,v)\) world-point-to-image-point correspondence defines two constraints between the 12 elements of the projective matrix:

\(u(m_{31}x+m_{32}y+m_{33}z+m_{34})=m_{11}x+m_{12}y+m_{13}z+m_{14}\) \(v(m_{31}x+m_{32}y+m_{33}z+m_{34})=m_{21}x+m_{22}y+m_{23}z+m_{24}\)

So with as few as 6 such measurements we can determine the m matrix as the solution of 12 linear equations in 12 unknowns. With more, we can find the least squares solution for M, a much more robust procedure. Procedures also exist for finding M in more complex cases, such as a scene in which the locations of the corresponding points are not known a priori, and where there is image motion.


Stereopsis is the determination of 3D geometry from a pair of 2D images of the same scene. The basis of stereopsis is that if we know the projective matrices for each of the two cameras, and if we have the two points \(\tilde{u_l}\) and \(\tilde{u_r}\) on the left and right camera image planes, then we can determine the ray for each camera, and the intersection of these two rays yields the location of the corresponding point in the scene.

So stereopsis, i.e. the recovery of the 3-D location of scene points from a pair of simultaneously acquired images, consists in solving the correspondence problem, then computing the ray intersection.

Computing the ray intersection

To recover the world coordinates \(X_w\) of a point from \(\tilde{u_l}\) and \(\tilde{u_r}\) corresponding to the same scene point X, remember that the image affine coords and the camera coords are related through the camera calibration matrix K by the expression we derived last time

\(z_c [u, v, 1]^T = K [x_c, y_c, z_c ]^T\)

Assuming the focal distance f, scale factors a and c are all nonzero, then K is invertible and

\([x_c/z_c, y_c/z_c, 1]^T = K^{-1} [u, v, 1]^T\)

So the ray corresponding to the image point (u,v) can be expressed in camera coordinates as

\(X_c = a K^{-1} [u, v, 1]^T\) for \(a > 0\).

But since in general world and camera coords satisfy

\(X_c = R( X_w - t)\)

with R the rotation matrix and t the translation vector,

\(X_w = R^{-1} X_c +t\)

and we can express the ray in world coords as

\(a R^{-1} K^{-1} [u, v, 1]^T + t\) for \(a > 0\)

Now suppose we have \(\tilde{u_l} = [u_l, v_l, 1]\), \(\tilde{u_r} = [u_r, v_r, 1]\) which correspond to the same scene point X, and we have the corresponding left and right camera models. Then in world coords, from the left image, the scene point \(X_w\) satisfies, for some \(a_l>0\),

\(X_w = a_l R_l^{-1} K_l^{-1} [u_l, v_l, 1]^T + t_l\)

while from the right image,

\(X_w = a_r R_r^{-1} K_r^{-1} [u_r, v_r, 1]^T + t_r\)

But the world coords as viewed by the two cameras must agree, since we are considering the same point in the scene. So equating the RHS's of the last two expressions, we can solve for the ray a-parameters and thus for \(X_w\).

There are actually three scalar equations in two unknowns \(a_l\) and \(a_r\) but since the two rays must be coplanar, this system of equations will be of rank two and have an unique solution.


Identical cameras \(K_l=K_r=I\), \(I\) is identity matrix (implies \(b=u_l=v_l=0\) and \(f a=f c=1\)).

Lets make the world and left camera coords the same, so \(t_l=[0,0,0]^T\), \(R_l=I\). Right camera is translated one unit to right \(t_r=[1,0,0]^T\) of left camera and rotated 30 ccw in the x-z plane,

R_r = [cos 30  0  -sin 30;
            0  1        0; 
       sin 30  0   cos 30]

Suppose with this setup, we find a correspondence between image points \((u_l,v_l)=(1.20,-0.402)\) and \((u_r,v_r)=(0.196, -0.309)\).

What is the corresponding scene point X in world coords in \(R^3\)?

\(X_w = a_l R_l^{-1} K_l^{-1} [u_l, v_l, 1]^T + t_l =\)

\(a_r R_r^{-1} K_r^{-1} [u_r,v_r,1]^T + t_r\)

Substituting in the K's and t's and equating the last two,

\(a_l [u_l,v_l,1]^T = a_r R_r^{-1} [u_r,v_r,1]^T + [1,0,0]^T\)

and then the rest of the parameters and image points,

\(a_l[1.20,-.402,1]^T - a_r[.670,-.309,.768]^T = [1,0,0]^T\)

Easiest way to solve is to look at top two equations

\([1.20 -.670; -.402 .309] [a_l,a_r]^T = [1 0]^T\)

which yields \(a_l=3.05\), \(a_r=3.97\). Substituting back, from the left image the scene point must be

\(X_w = a_l [u_l,v_l,1]^T = 3.05 [1.20,-0.402,1]^T\)

\(= [3.66, -1.23, 3.05]^T\)

while from the right image it is

\(X_w = 3.97 R_r^{-1} [0.196,-0.309,1]^T + [1,0,0]^T\)

\(= [3.66,-1.23,3.05]^T\)

The left and right images agree as to the location in world coords of the scene point. Note that the third equation is indeed also satisfied by the solution we have found:

\(a_l - .768 a_r = 3.05 - .768*3.97 = 0\)

Epipoles and epipolar lines

As seen above, once the correspondence problem has been solved, it is easy enough to determine the world coordinates.

In general, given a point in the left image, it requires a 2-D search to find the corresponding point in the right image. This can be reduced to a 1-D search through the use of epipolar geometry.

Let C and C' be the centers (focal points) of the left and right cameras. We will draw the image plane in front of C, rather than behind it where the image is inverted, for clarity.

The line of centers CC' is called the baseline of the stereo camera system. The points where the baselines intersect the image planes are called the epipoles e and e'.

For any scene point X, the triangle XCC' cuts through the image planes in two lines ue and u'e' called the epipolar lines.

Here is the point. Suppose we identify a point u in the left image corresponding to a scene point X. Then u together with the epipoles e and e' define a plane. Where might X be in \(R^3\)? Anywhere along the ray Cu, which lies entirely in that plane.

But note that as X occupies different positions along Cu, it remains in the plane, and the corresponding point u' in the right image remains on the epipolar line u'e'. So the correspondence problem is solved by a 1-D search over the epipolar line.

The epipolar line is often computed from the fundamental matrix F, where

\(F = K^{-T} S(t) R^{-1} K'^{-1}\)


K, K'
the left and right camera matrices
a matrix determined by t = C'-C
the rotation matrix of the right camera relative to the left camera

(see Sonka p 462)

via the Longuet-Higgins equation

\(u^T F u' = 0\)

If say u' is specified, then with the point (row vector) \(u^T\) having homogeneous coordinates \([u, v, 1]^T\), the L-H equation is a single scalar equation in 2 unknowns which defines a line in the image plane, the epipolar line.