Volumetric Features for Event Detection in Video

Yan Ke, Rahul Sukthankar, Martial Hebert
Carnegie Mellon University


Research Overview

This project explores the use of volumetric features for event detection.  We propose a novel method to correlate spatio-temporal shapes to video clips that have been automatically segmented. Our method works on over-segmented videos, which means that we do not require background subtraction for reliable object segmentation.  Our method, when combined with a recent flow-based correlation technique, can detect a wide range of actions in video.

Example Results

More example videos can be found below.

Jumping jacks
Pickup action
Wave event
Jumping jacks
Figure 1.  Example event detections in crowded videos.

Automatic Video Segmentation

The first step is to extract spatio-temporal shape contours in the video using an unsupervised clustering technique. This enables us to ignore highly variable and potentially irrelevant features of the video such as color and texture, while preserving the object boundaries needed for shape classification. As a preprocessing step, the video is automatically segmented into regions in space-time using mean shift, with color and location as the input features.  This is the spatio-temporal equivalent of the concept of superpixels. Figure 2 shows an example video sequence and the resulting segmentation. Note that there is no explicit figure/ground separation in the segmentation and that the objects are over-segmented.
Video Segmentation
Figure 2. Volumetric video segmentation.  We use mean shift to segment the video in space-time.  Volumetric segmentation leads to more consistent regions over time, versus segmenting individual frames.

Shape Matching

Our shape matching metric is based on the region intersection distance between the template volume and the set of over-segmented volumes in the video.  Figure 3 shows the volumetric model of an example handwave action.  The model spans both space and time.  Figure 4 illustrates how a template is matched to set of over-segmented regions.  The shape template can be efficiently scanned over the video and events are detected when the matching distance falls below a specified threshold.  More details of the algorithm can be found in the ICCV '07 paper below.

Figure 3. Example volumetric model of a handwave action.

Shape Matching
Figure 4.  Our shape matching algorithm is based on region intersection between two shapes.  The shaded area represents the distance between the template and the video.  We are able to match the template with over-segmented regions and the running time is linearly proportional to the surface area of the three-dimensional template.


Like all template-based matching techniques our baseline shape matching technique suffers from limited generalization power due to the variability in how different people perform the same action. A standard approach to improve generalization is to break the model into parts, allowing the parts to move independently, and to measure the joint appearance and geometric matching score of the parts. Allowing the parts to move makes the template more robust to the spatial and temporal variability of actions. This idea has been studied extensively in recognition in both images and video. Therefore, we extend our baseline matching algorithm by introducing a parts-based volumetric shape-matching model, illustrated in Figure 5.  Specifically, we extend the pictorial structures framework to video volumes to model the geometric configuration of the parts and to find the optimal match in both appearance and configuration in the video.

Wave Whole
Wave Parts
Wave Action -- Whole Template
Wave Action -- Parts Model
Figure 5. We break the template into parts for more robustness and improved generalization ability.

Video of Detection Results

Event detection in cluttered videos. [ZIP 8MB]

Unscripted YouTube Pickup Actions [ZIP 1.3MB]

TV Gestures Recognition [WMV 4MB]

Event detection in tennis sequence. [TAR.GZ 36MB]


The crowded videos dataset used for the ICCV 07 paper is available for noncommercial research use. It's very large (1GB) so I have not put it online. Please email me if you would like to access it. You will need to provide me access to a FTP/SFTP server and I will upload it for you. C++ and Matlab code for reading MMV and MDL formats used in the dataset: videoproc.tgz. Sorry, but I do not have time to answer questions about how to compile or run the code.


Y. Ke, R. Sukthankar, and M. Hebert. Event Detection in Cluttered Videos.  ICCV, 2007. [PDF 1.7MB]

Y. Ke, R. Sukthankar, and M. Hebert. Spatio-temporal Shape and Flow Correlation for Action Recognition.  Visual Surveillance Workshop, 2007. [PDF 1.1MB]

Y. Ke, R. Sukthankar, and M. Hebert. Efficient Temporal Mean Shift for Activity Recognition in Video.  NIPS Workshop on Activity Recognition and Discovery, 2005. [Paper PDF 70KB] [Poster PDF 900KB]

Y. Ke, R. Sukthankar, and M. Hebert. Efficient Visual Event Detection using Volumetric Features.  International Conference on Computer Vision, 2005. [PDF 630KB]