The CVPR 2020 paper: Cloth in the Wind: A Case Study of Physical Measurement through Simulation by Tom Runia, Kirill Gavrilyuk, Cees Snoek and Arnold Smeulders is now available. For many of the physical phenomena around us, we have developed sophisticated models explaining their behavior. Nevertheless, measuring physical properties from visual observations is challenging due to the high number of causally underlying physical parameters — including material properties and external forces. In this paper, we propose to measure latent physical properties for cloth in the wind without ever having seen a real example before. Our solution is an iterative refinement procedure with simulation at its core. The algorithm gradually updates the physical model parameters by running a simulation of the observed phenomenon and comparing the current simulation to a real-world observation. The correspondence is measured using an embedding function that maps physically similar examples to nearby points. We consider a case study of cloth in the wind, with curling flags as our leading example — a seemingly simple phenomena but physically highly involved. Based on the physics of cloth and its visual manifestation, we propose an instantiation of the embedding function. For this mapping, modeled as a deep network, we introduce a spectral layer that decomposes a video volume into its temporal spectral power and corresponding frequencies. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed method compares favorably to prior work on the task of measuring cloth material properties and external wind force from a real-world video.

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