3D Reconstruction by Shadow Carving: Theory and Practical Evaluation


Abstract  Cast shadows are an informative cue to the shape of objects. They are particularly valuable for discovering an object’s concavities which are not available from other cues such as occluding boundaries. We propose a new method for recovering shape from shadows which we call shadow carving. Given a conservative estimate of the volume occupied by an object, it is possible to identify and carve away regions of this volume that are inconsistent with the observed pattern of shadows. We prove a theorem that guarantees that when these regions are carved away from the shape, the shape still remains conservative. Shadow carving overcomes limitations of previous studies on shape from shadows because it is robust with respect to errors in shadows detection and it allows the reconstruction of objects in the round, rather than just bas-reliefs. We propose a reconstruction system to recover shape from silhouettes and shadow carving. The silhouettes are used to reconstruct the initial conservative estimate of the object’s shape and shadow carving is used to carve out the concavities. We have simulated our reconstruction system with a commercial rendering package to explore the design parameters and assess the accuracy of the reconstruction. We have also implemented our reconstruction scheme in a table-top system and present the results of scanning of several objects.