International Journal of Computer Vision

, Volume 102, Issue 1, pp 33-55

First online:

A Practical Approach to 3D Scanning in the Presence of Interreflections, Subsurface Scattering and Defocus

  • Mohit GuptaAffiliated withComputer Science Department, Columbia University Email author 
  • , Amit AgrawalAffiliated withMitsubishi Electrical Research Labs
  • , Ashok VeeraraghavanAffiliated withElectrical and Computer Engineering Department, Rice University
  • , Srinivasa G. NarasimhanAffiliated withRobotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Global or indirect illumination effects such as interreflections and subsurface scattering severely degrade the performance of structured light-based 3D scanning. In this paper, we analyze the errors in structured light, caused by both long-range (interreflections) and short-range (subsurface scattering) indirect illumination. The errors depend on the frequency of the projected patterns, and the nature of indirect illumination. In particular, we show that long-range effects cause decoding errors for low-frequency patterns, whereas short-range effects affect high-frequency patterns.

Based on this analysis, we present a practical 3D scanning system which works in the presence of a broad range of indirect illumination. First, we design binary structured light patterns that are resilient to individual indirect illumination effects using simple logical operations and tools from combinatorial mathematics. Scenes exhibiting multiple phenomena are handled by combining results from a small ensemble of such patterns. This combination also allows detecting any residual errors that are corrected by acquiring a few additional images. Our methods can be readily incorporated into existing scanning systems without significant overhead in terms of capture time or hardware. We show results for several scenes with complex shape and material properties.


Structured light 3D scanning Interreflections Subsurface scattering Defocus Global illumination Indirect illumination Light transport Projectors