BUILDUP: Interactive Creation of Urban Scenes

from Large Photo Collections

Jose Ribelles 1     Diego Gutierrez 2     Alexei A. Efros 3

  1 Universitat Jaume I     2 Universidad de Zaragoza     3 University of California, Berkeley


Final publication is available at Springer via this link

The promise of effortless visual content creation has always been a large part of the appeal of computer graphics. The huge popularity of contemporary world-building games like Minecraft has demonstrated people's desire for new ways to create, to build, to express themselves visually. But the computer graphics employed in such games is still quite rudimentary. Bruce Branit's short film "World Builder"  shows us a future where intricately detailed, breathtakingly photorealistic urban CG worlds could be created by a single user, in under an hour. Development of such technologies  for quickly visualizing and experimenting with future urban spaces that do not yet exist, or for creating synthetic city scenes that do not depict a real place  would benefit fields such as urban planning or landscape architecture, in applications like revitalizing downtowns or historic places, designing new neighborhoods, planning cities, retrofitting suburbia or shaping transit oriented development. In this paper, our aim is to take a small step toward this future.

We propose a system for creating images of urban scenes composed of the large structures typical in such environments. Our system provides the user with a precomputed library of image-based 3D objects, such as roads, sidewalks and buildings, obtained from a large collection of photographs. When the user picks the 3D location of a new object to insert, the system retrieves objects that have all the required properties (location, orientation and lighting). Then, the user interface guides the user to add more objects enabling non-experts to make a new composition in a fast and intuitive way. Unlike prior work, the entire image composition process is done in the 3D space of the scene, therefore inconsistent scale or perspective distortion do not arise, and occlusions are properly handled.


Additional results


Jose Ribelles, Diego Gutierrez and Alexei A. Efros. BUILDUP: interactive creation of urban scenes from large photo collections. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 76(10), 12757-12774, 2017, DOI 10.1007/s11042-016-3658-x