For smooth curved surfaces the dominant image feature is the apparent contour, or outline. This is the projection of the contour generator, the locus of points on the surface which separate visible and occluded parts. The contour generator is dependent of the local surface geometry and the viewpoint. Each viewpoint will generate a different contour generator. This paper addresses the problem of recovering the three–dimensional shape and motion of curves and surfaces from image sequences of apparent contours.
For known viewer motion the visible surfaces can then be reconstructed by exploiting a spatio–temporal parametrization of the apparent contours and contour generators under viewer motion. A natural parametrization exploits the contour generators and the epipolar geometry between successive viewpoints. The epipolar parametrization leads to simplified expressions for the recovery of depth and surface curvatures from image velocities and accelerations and known viewer motion.
The parametrization is, however, degenerate when the apparent contour is singular since the ray is tangent to the contour generator and at frontier points when the epipolar plane is a tangent plane to the surface. At these isolated points the epipolar parametrization can no longer be used to recover the local surface geometry. This paper reviews the epipolar parametrization and shows how the degenerate cases can be used to recover surface geometry and unknown viewer motion from apparent contours of curved surfaces. Practical implementations are outlined.