“Pitching a baseball: tracking high-speed motion with multi-exposure images” by Theobalt, Albrecht, Haber, Magnor and Seidel

  • ©Christian Theobalt, Irene Albrecht, Jörg Haber, Marcus Magnor, and Hans-Peter Seidel




    Pitching a baseball: tracking high-speed motion with multi-exposure images



    Athletes and coaches in most professional sports make use of high-tech equipment to analyze and, subsequently, improve the athlete’s performance. High-speed video cameras are employed, for instance, to record the swing of a golf club or a tennis racket, the movement of the feet while running, and the body motion in apparatus gymnastics. High-tech and high-speed equipment, however, usually implies high-cost as well. In this paper, we present a passive optical approach to capture high-speed motion using multi-exposure images obtained with low-cost commodity still cameras and a stroboscope. The recorded motion remains completely undisturbed by the motion capture process. We apply our approach to capture the motion of hand and ball for a variety of baseball pitches and present algorithms to automatically track the position, velocity, rotation axis, and spin of the ball along its trajectory. To demonstrate the validity of our setup and algorithms, we analyze the consistency of our measurements with a physically based model that predicts the trajectory of a spinning baseball. Our approach can be applied to capture a wide variety of other high-speed objects and activities such as golfing, bowling, or tennis for visualization as well as analysis purposes.


    1. ADAIR, R. K. 2002. The Physics of Baseball, 3rd ed. HarperCollins, New York, NY.Google Scholar
    2. AGGARWAL, J. K., AND CAI, Q. 1999. Human motion analysis: A review. CVIU 73, 3, 428–440. Google ScholarDigital Library
    3. ALAWAYS, L. W., MISH, S. P., AND HUBBARD, M. 2001. Identification of Release Conditions and Aerodynamic Forces in Pitched-Baseball Trajectories. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 17, 63–76.Google ScholarCross Ref
    4. ALAWAYS, L. W. 1998. Aerodynamics of the Curve-Ball: An Investigation of the Effects of Angular Velocity on Baseball Trajectories. PhD thesis, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA.Google Scholar
    5. ALBRECHT, I., HABER, J., AND SEIDEL, H.-P. 2003. Construction and Animation of Anatomically Based Human Hand Models. In Proc. Symposium on Computer Animation (SCA ’03), 98–108. Google ScholarDigital Library
    6. ATHITSOS, V., AND SCLAROFF, S. 2003. Estimating 3D hand pose from a cluttered image. In Proc. of CVPR’03, vol. 2, 432.Google ScholarCross Ref
    7. BALLARD, D. 1981. Generalizing the hough transform to detect arbitrary shapes. Pattern Recognition 13(2), 111–122.Google ScholarCross Ref
    8. COLLINS, D., AND BRUCE, R. R., Eds. 1994. Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley. MIT Press.Google Scholar
    9. D’ORAZIO, T., ANCONA, N., CICIRELLI, G., AND NITTI, M. 2002. A ball detection algorithm for real soccer image sequences. In Proc. of ICPR’02, vol. 1, 10210. Google ScholarDigital Library
    10. DORNER, B. 1993. Hand shape identification and tracking for sign language interpretation. In IJCAI Workshop on Looking at People.Google Scholar
    11. FAUGERAS, O. 1993. Three-dimensional computer vision: a geometric viewpoint. MIT Press. Google ScholarDigital Library
    12. GLEICHER, M., FERRIER, N., GARDNER, A., SHIN, S., TOLLES, T., AND WILSON, T. 2001. Making motion capture useful. In SIGGRAPH Course Notes.Google Scholar
    13. GUEZIEC, A. 2002. Tracking pitches for broadcast television. IEEE Computer 35(3), 38–43. Google ScholarDigital Library
    14. GUEZIEC, A. 2003. Tracking a baseball for broadcast television. In SIGGRAPH Course Notes.Google Scholar
    15. HAIRER, E., NØRSETT, S. P., AND WANNER, G. 1993. Solving Ordinary Differential Equations I: Nonstiff Problems, 2nd ed. Springer–Verlag, New York. Google ScholarDigital Library
    16. HEAP, T., AND HOGG, D. 1996. Towards 3D hand tracking using a deformable model. In Proc. of 2nd Intl. Conf. on Automatic Face and Gesture Recognition, 140. Google ScholarDigital Library
    17. HEIKKILA, J., AND SILVEN, O. 1996. Calibration procedure for short focal length off-the-shelf ccd cameras. In Proc. of 13th International Conference on Pattern Recognition., 166–170. Google ScholarDigital Library
    18. HOUSE, T. 2000. The Pitching Edge, 2nd ed. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.Google Scholar
    19. INTEL, 2002. Open source computer vision library. Available from http://www.sourceforge.net/projects/opencvlibrary.Google Scholar
    20. JAIN, R., KASTURI, R., AND SCHUNCK, B. 1995. Machine Vision. McGraw Hill International. Google ScholarDigital Library
    21. MURRAY, R. M., LI, Z., AND SASTRY, S. S. 1994. A mathematical introduction to robotic manipulation. CRC Press. Google ScholarDigital Library
    22. MUYBRIDGE, E. 1887. Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements 1872–1885. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
    23. PINGALI, G., JEAN, Y., AND CARLBOM, I. 1998. Real time tracking for enhanced tennis broadcasts. In Proc. of CVPR, 260–265. Google ScholarDigital Library
    24. PINGALI, G., YVES, J., OPALACH, A., AND CARLBOM, I. 2000. Lucentvision: Converting real world events into multimedia experiences. In Proc. of Intl Conf. on Multimedia and Expo (ICME), 1433–1436.Google ScholarCross Ref
    25. PRESS, W. H., TEUKOLSKY, S. A., VETTERLING, W. T., AND FLANNERY, B. P. 1992. Numerical Recipes in C: The Art of Scientific Computing, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA. Google ScholarDigital Library
    26. REHG, J. M., AND KANADE, T. 1994. Visual tracking of high DOF articulated structures: an application to human hand tracking. In ECCV (2), 35–46. Google ScholarDigital Library
    27. SLANSKY, J. 1970. Recognition of convex blobs. Pattern Recognition 2, 3–10.Google ScholarCross Ref
    28. STENGER, B., MENDONÇA, P. R. S., AND CIPOLLA, R. 2001. Model based 3D tracking of an articulated hand. In Proc. of CVPR, vol. II.Google ScholarCross Ref
    29. STEWART, J. 2002. The Pitching Clinic. Burford Books, Inc., Short Hills, NJ.Google Scholar
    30. VAN GELDER, A. 1998. Approximate Simulation of Elastic Membranes by Triangulated Spring Meshes. Journal of Graphics Tools 3, 2, 21–41. Google ScholarDigital Library
    31. WU, Y., LIN, J., AND HUANG, T. 2001. Capturing natural hand articulation. In Proc. of ICCV, 426–432.Google Scholar

ACM Digital Library Publication: