Image matting, mixed reality, chroma keying, real time, natural image matting, augmented reality, video matting


In Mixed Reality scenarios, background replacement is a common way to immerse a user in a synthetic environment. Properly identifying the background pixels in an image or video is a dif- ficult problem known as matting. Proper alpha mattes usually come from human guidance, special hardware setups, or color dependent algorithms. This is a consequence of the under-constrained nature of the per pixel alpha blending equation. In constant color matting, research identifies and replaces a background that is a single color, known as the chroma key color. Unfortunately, the algorithms force a controlled physical environment and favor constant, uniform lighting. More generic approaches, such as natural image matting, have made progress finding alpha matte solutions in environments with naturally occurring backgrounds. However, even for the quicker algorithms, the generation of trimaps, indicating regions of known foreground and background pixels, normally requires human interaction or offline computation. This research addresses ways to automatically solve an alpha matte for an image in realtime, and by extension a video, using a consumer level GPU. It does so even in the context of noisy environments that result in less reliable constraints than found in controlled settings. To attack these challenges, we are particularly interested in automatically generating trimaps from depth buffers for dynamic scenes so that algorithms requiring more dense constraints may be used. The resulting computation is parallelizable so that it may run on a GPU and should work for natural images as well as chroma key backgrounds. Extra input may be required, but when this occurs, commodity hardware available in most Mixed Reality setups should be able to provide the input. This allows us to provide real-time alpha mattes for Mixed Reality scenarios that take place in relatively controlled environments. As a consequence, while monochromatic backdrops (such as green screens or retro-reflective material) aid the algorithm’s accuracy, they are not an explicit requirement. iii Finally we explore a sub-image based approach to parallelize an existing hierarchical approach on high resolution imagery. We show that locality can be exploited to significantly reduce the memory and compute requirements of previously necessary when computing alpha mattes of high resolution images. We achieve this using a parallelizable scheme that is both independent of the matting algorithm and image features. Combined, these research topics provide a basis for Mixed Reality scenarios using real-time natural image matting on high definition video sources.


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Graduation Date





Hughes, Charles


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Computer Science

Degree Program

Computer Science








Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic