Pioneering Study on Compression and Processing of Image Information

Capturing system of Free-viewpoint TV

Fig.1 Capturing system of Free-viewpoint TV

Free-viewpoint images generated in real-time

Fig.2 Free-viewpoint images generated in real-time

Interactive display of free-viewpoint images on a mobile player

Fig.3 Interactive display of free-viewpoint images on a mobile player

    Television is one of the greatest inventions in the 20th century. It realized a human dream of seeing a distant world in real-time. It keeps the position of the most important visual media through the 20th century. However, TV allows us to see only a limited view of the 3D world because the visual field and viewpoint of TV are limited. In the 21st century, the visual media shall realize more free and natural visual communication, removing the limitations of the visual field and viewpoint. Masayuki Tanimoto viewed this direction and made pioneering study on compression and processing of image information for HDTV and 3DTV.

    He studied bandwidth compression for HDTV and developed TAT (Time-Axis Transform) system for HDTV satellite broadcast. The TAT system became a candidate for HDTV satellite broadcast in Japan together with the MUSE system although Telecommunications Technology Council of Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications finally adopted the MUSE system.

    TAT system can compress the bandwidth of HDTV signal, keeping the high resolution of HDTV and compatibility with standard-definition TV. This was realized by the complementary subsampling scheme. The complementary subsampling scheme divides pixels into two groups. The first group of pixels is subsampled pixels and the second group is the rest pixels. The high frequency component of the first group is removed to prevent aliasing in the standard—definition TV. The lost high frequency component is recovered by signal processing using the high frequency component of the second group. He developed the complementary subsampling into the complementary pyramid that represents image information hierarchically without redundancy.

    Reducing the limitation of viewpoint is a more essential issue. In the present TV, users can get only a single view of a real 3D world they want to see. The viewpoint of this view is determined not by users but by a camera placed in the 3D world. Although many important technologies have been developed, this function of TV has never changed in the 20th century.

    Masayuki Tanimoto challenged this issue and succeeded in realizing an innovative TV. He named it FTV (Free Viewpoint Television). FTV enables users to view a distant 3D world freely by moving the viewpoint. Free viewpoint movement in a 3D space needs the information of all rays in the 3D space for image generation. The information of all rays could be obtained by placing infinite number of cameras at all positions in the 3D space. However, it is not practical. He realized it alternatively by placing finite number of cameras in the 3D space and processing the multi-view images of these cameras. He developed a method to generate ray information at any viewpoint from the rays of the finite viewpoints. By using this method, he succeeded in the world's first real-time experiment of FTV including the complete chain from capturing to display. Thus, he verified the feasibility of the new 3D media.

    After the success of real-time experiment, he proposed FTV to MPEG. Due to his leadership and continuous contributions, MPEG regarded FTV as the most challenging scenario of 3D video and decided to start the standardization of multi-view video coding.

    Thus, Masayuki Tanimoto has been leading the academic society in the field of image information and contributed to the development of science and technology. The IEICE presented him Achievement Award for these contributions in 2005.


[1] M. Tanimoto, N. Chiba, H. Yasui, M. Murakami、TAT (Time-Axis Transform) Bandwidth Compression System of Picture Signals、1988、IEEE Trans. on Commun., Vol.COM-36, No.3, pp. 347-354
[2] Masayuki Tanimoto、FTV (Free viewpoint TV) and Creation of Ray-Based Image Engineering、2008、ECTI Transaction on Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Communications, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.3-14

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