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Three-dimensional appearance models consisting of spatially varying reflectance functions defined on a known shape can be used in analysis-by-synthesis approaches to a number of visual tasks. The construction of these models requires the measurement of reflectance, and the problem of recovering spatially varying reflectance from images of known shape has drawn considerable interest. To date, existing methods rely on either: 1) low-dimensional (e.g., parametric) reflectance models, or 2) large data sets involving thousands of images (or more) per object. Appearance models based on the former have limited accuracy and generality since they require the selection of a specific reflectance model a priori, and while approaches based on the latter may be suitable for certain applications, they are generally too costly and cumbersome to be used for image analysis. We present an alternative approach that seeks to combine the benefits of existing methods by enabling the estimation of a nonparametric spatially varying reflectance function from a small number of images. We frame the problem as scattered-data interpolation in a mixed spatial and angular domain, and we present a theory demonstrating that the angular accuracy of a recovered reflectance function can be increased in exchange for a decrease in its spatial resolution. We also present a practical solution to this interpolation problem using a new representation of reflectance based on radial basis functions. This representation is evaluated experimentally by testing its ability to predict appearance under novel view and lighting conditions. Our results suggest that since reflectance typically varies slowly from point to point over much of an object's surface, we can often obtain a nonparametric reflectance function from a sparse set of images. In fact, in some cases, we can obtain reasonable results in the limiting case of only a single input image.
Reflectance, BRDF, image synthesis, image-based rendering, radial basis functions.

S. Enrique, P. N. Belhumeur, T. Zickler and R. Ramamoorthi, "Reflectance Sharing: Predicting Appearance from a Sparse Set of Images of a Known Shape," in IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence, vol. 28, no. , pp. 1287-1302, 2006.
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