Published On: Wed, May 14th, 2014

Israel’s SceneNet Can Turn Regular Film Into Virtual Reality

An Israeli – European joint project is trying to turn regular videos of an event into a 3D movie.

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If you saw the matrix then you wondered how it was possible to get those 360 degree shots of the actors in motion. If you saw any of those behind the scenes featuretes about the movie, then you learned how its producers innovated an entirely new green screen 360 degree technology.

Something similar is being developed today by Israel’s SceneNet in cooperation with European institutions. But in this case people will be able to combine video footage of events such as sports matches and rock concerts to make a three dimensional film.

Imagine not only having a three dimensional experience when watching concert footage or sporting events that allows you to feel like you are actually there, but also being able to pick the location from which you are viewing, such as behind the stage.

The concept was born when SceneNet’s founders, Dr. Chen and Nizan Sagiv attended a Depeche Mode Concert in Tel Aviv five years ago. The two had already founded SagivTech, an Israeli company based in Raanana that specializes in image processing, computer vision and GPU computing in 2009 by Dr. Sagiv. It also provides companies with courses and workshops in image processing.

SceneNet’s project coordinator, Dr. Chen Sagiv tells the story. “While I was busy looking at the show, Nizan was watching the crowds. He could not help noticing the huge number of faint lights from mobile phone screens. People were taking videos of the show. Nizan thought that combining all the videos taken by individuals into a synergetic, enhanced and possibly 3D video could be an interesting idea. We discussed the concept for many months, but it looked too futuristic, risky and complicated.”

The couple sought help from the Israel Europe R&D Directorate and Chen contacted Professor Peter Maas of the University of Bremen with whom she had worked previously. This led to a grant of 1.33 million from the European Commission to establish the SceneNet project.

According to Chen Sagiv, the project is way ahead of schedule having built the entire SceneNet pipeline based on current state of the art components. She also said, “We believe that the various components that make up SceneNet, registration of images and 3D reconstruction, have great potential for mobile computing and cloud computing.” But it will take at least another five years to complete.

The project is not limited to entertainment, however. News reports and educational videos can also be made using the technology.

About the process, Dr. Sagiv said, “It’s the ultimate in crowdsourcing. We take crowdsourced videos filmed by different devices, including phones and tablets, put them all together, enhance their resolution and add 3D effects. The system creates a single, high-resolution video that lets you see the action from any angle, in 3D   just as if you were there yourself.”

The Israel Europe R&D Directorate is an inter-ministerial directorate, established by Israel’s Ministries of the Economy, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Science, Technology and Space, and its Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education. ISERD is operated through the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy, and is Israel’s official contact point with the EU.

ISERD was created with the entry of Israel as an associated country to the EU-RTD Framework Program to ensure that Israeli entities will make the most of the EU FPs. It operates via program managers, each specializing in specific programs, promoting them in Israel and representing Israel in EU. The organization supplies information to interested parties, organizes events, and gives public presentations. It acts as the National Contact Point, and also provides the commission with feedback from the Israeli participants.

SceneNet received research funding under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program.

1, 600 Israeli scientists have benefited from the program in over 800 projects funded by the EU in grants totaling 634 million Euros.

Dr. Sagiv said that the program offers, “an opportunity to be a part of the thriving European scientific and industrial communities, and collaborate with leading academy partners and companies in Europe.”

The co founder and CEO of SagivTech, Chen Sagiv, has a PhD from Tel Aviv University and Apllied Mathematics, with specializations in texture analysis, filter banks and optimization problems. She has fifteen years of experience in the image processing industry and has lectured at various Israeli universities.

SagivTech’s other co founder and its active chairman and director of business development is Nizan Sagiv. Nizan has extensive experience in sales, business development, account management and global operations management. He was previously a vice president of world wide sales with several Israeli companies.

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