Local motion compensation in image sequences degraded by atmospheric turbulence: A comparative analysis of optical flow vs. block matching methods
As a consequence of fluctuations in the index of refraction of the air, atmospheric turbulence causes scintillation, spatial and temporal blurring as well as global and local image motion creating geometric distortions. To mitigate these effects many different methods have been proposed. Global as well as local motion compensation in some form or other constitutes an integral part of many software-based approaches. For the estimation of motion vectors between consecutive frames simple methods like block matching are preferable to more complex algorithms like optical flow, at least when challenged with near real-time requirements. However, the processing power of commercially available computers continues to increase rapidly and the more powerful optical flow methods have the potential to outperform standard block matching methods. Therefore, in this paper three standard optical flow algorithms, namely Horn-Schunck (HS), Lucas-Kanade (LK) and Farnebäck (FB), are tested for their suitability to be employed for local motion compensation as part of a turbulence mitigation system. Their qualitative performance is evaluated and compared with that of three standard block matching methods, namely Exhaustive Search (ES), Adaptive Rood Pattern Search (ARPS) and Correlation based Search (CS).