Synthetic Defocus and Look-Ahead Autofocus for Casual Videography



In cinema, large camera lenses create beautiful shallow depth of field (DOF), but make focusing difficult and expensive. Accurate cinema focus usually relies on a script and a person to control focus in realtime. Casual videographers often crave cinematic focus, but fail to achieve it. We either sacrifice shallow DOF, as in smartphone videos; or we struggle to deliver accurate focus, as in videos from larger cameras. This paper is about a new approach in the pursuit of cinematic focus for casual videography. We present a system that synthetically renders refocusable video from a deep DOF video shot with a smartphone, and analyzes future video frames to deliver context-aware autofocus for the current frame. To create refocusable video, we extend recent machine learning methods designed for still photography, contributing a new dataset for machine training, a rendering model better suited to cinema focus, and a filtering solution for temporal coherence. To choose focus accurately for each frame, we demonstrate autofocus that looks at upcoming video frames and applies AI-assist modules such as motion, face, audio and saliency detection. We also show that autofocus benefits from machine learning and a large-scale video dataset with focus annotation, where we use our RVR-LAAF GUI to create this sizable dataset efficiently. We deliver, for example, a shallow DOF video where the autofocus transitions onto each person before she begins to speak. This is impossible for conventional camera autofocus because it would require seeing into the future.

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