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Automatic Level Control for Video Cameras towards HDR Techniques

Author(s): Cvetkovic Sascha | Jellema Helios | de With PeterHN

Journal: EURASIP Journal on Image and Video Processing
ISSN 1687-5176

Volume: 2010;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 197194;
Date: 2010;
Original page

We give a comprehensive overview of the complete exposure processing chain for video cameras. For each step of the automatic exposure algorithm we discuss some classical solutions and propose their improvements or give new alternatives. We start by explaining exposure metering methods, describing types of signals that are used as the scene content descriptors as well as means to utilize these descriptors. We also discuss different exposure control types used for the control of lens, integration time of the sensor, and gain control, such as a PID control, precalculated control based on the camera response function, and propose a new recursive control type that matches the underlying image formation model. Then, a description of commonly used serial control strategy for lens, sensor exposure time, and gain is presented, followed by a proposal of a new parallel control solution that integrates well with tone mapping and enhancement part of the image pipeline. Parallel control strategy enables faster and smoother control and facilitates optimally filling the dynamic range of the sensor to improve the SNR and an image contrast, while avoiding signal clipping. This is archived by the proposed special control modes used for better display and correct exposure of both low-dynamic range and high-dynamic range images. To overcome the inherited problems of limited dynamic range of capturing devices we discuss a paradigm of multiple exposure techniques. Using these techniques we can enable a correct rendering of difficult class of high-dynamic range input scenes. However, multiple exposure techniques bring several challenges, especially in the presence of motion and artificial light sources such as fluorescent lights. In particular, false colors and light-flickering problems are described. After briefly discussing some known possible solutions for the motion problem, we focus on solving the fluorescence-light problem. Thereby, we propose an algorithm for the detection of fluorescent lights from the image itself and define a set of remedial actions, to minimize false color and light-flickering problems.
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