Implementing LucasKanade Optical Flow algorithm in Python
In this article an implementation of the LucasKanade optical flow algorithm is going to be described. This problem appeared as an assignment in a computer vision course from UCSD. The inputs will be sequences of images (subsequent frames from a video) and the algorithm will output an optical flow field (u, v) and trace the motion of the moving objects. The problem description is taken from the assignment itself.
Problem Statement
SingleScale Optical Flow
 Let’s implement the singlescale LucasKanade optical flow algorithm. This involves finding the motion (u, v) that minimizes the sumsquared error of the brightness constancy equations for each pixel in a window. The algorithm will be implemented as a function with the following inputs:
def optical_flow(I1, I2, window_size, tau) # returns (u, v)
 Here, u and v are the x and y components of the optical flow, I1 and I2 are two images taken at times t = 1 and t = 2 respectively, and window_size is a 1 × 2 vector storing the width and height of the window used during flow computation.
 In addition to these inputs, a theshold τ should be added, such that if τ is larger than the smallest eigenvalue of A’A, then the the optical flow at that position should not be computed. Recall that the optical flow is only valid in regions where
has rank 2, which is what the threshold is checking. A typical value for τ is 0.01.
 We should try experimenting with different window sizes and find out the tradeoffs associated with using a small vs. a large window size.
 The following figure describes the algorithm, which considers a nxn (n>=3) window around each pixel and solves a leastsquare problem to find the best flow vectors for the pixel.
 The following codesnippet shows how the algorithm is implemented in python for a graylevel image.
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import numpy as np from scipy import signal def optical_flow(I1g, I2g, window_size, tau = 1e  2 ): kernel_x = np.array([[  1. , 1. ], [  1. , 1. ]]) kernel_y = np.array([[  1. ,  1. ], [ 1. , 1. ]]) kernel_t = np.array([[ 1. , 1. ], [ 1. , 1. ]]) #*.25 w = window_size / 2 # window_size is odd, all the pixels with offset in between [w, w] are inside the window I1g = I1g / 255. # normalize pixels I2g = I2g / 255. # normalize pixels # Implement Lucas Kanade # for each point, calculate I_x, I_y, I_t mode = 'same' fx = signal.convolve2d(I1g, kernel_x, boundary = 'symm' , mode = mode) fy = signal.convolve2d(I1g, kernel_y, boundary = 'symm' , mode = mode) ft = signal.convolve2d(I2g, kernel_t, boundary = 'symm' , mode = mode) + signal.convolve2d(I1g,  kernel_t, boundary = 'symm' , mode = mode) u = np.zeros(I1g.shape) v = np.zeros(I1g.shape) # within window window_size * window_size for i in range (w, I1g.shape[ 0 ]  w): for j in range (w, I1g.shape[ 1 ]  w): Ix = fx[i  w:i + w + 1 , j  w:j + w + 1 ].flatten() Iy = fy[i  w:i + w + 1 , j  w:j + w + 1 ].flatten() It = ft[i  w:i + w + 1 , j  w:j + w + 1 ].flatten() #b = ... # get b here #A = ... # get A here # if threshold τ is larger than the smallest eigenvalue of A'A: nu = ... # get velocity here u[i,j] = nu[ 0 ] v[i,j] = nu[ 1 ] return (u,v) 
Some Results
 The following figures and animations show the results of the algorithm on a few image sequences. Some of these input image sequences / videos are from the course and some are collected from the internet.
 As can be seen, the algorithm performs best if the motion of the moving object(s) in between consecutive frames is slow. To the contrary, if the motion is large, the algorithm fails and we should implement / use multiplescale version LucasKanade with image pyramids.
 Finally, with small window size, the algorithm captures subtle motions but not large motions. With large size it happens the other way.
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow with different window sizes
window size = 15
window size = 21
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences (hamburg taxi)
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow
Output Optical Flow
Input Sequences
Output Optical Flow with window size 45
Output Optical Flow with window size 10
Output Optical Flow with window size 25
Output Optical Flow with window size 45
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