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Intrinsic characterization of scenes is often the best way to overcome the illumination variability artifacts that complicate most computer vision problems, from 3D reconstruction to object or material recognition. This paper examines the deficiency of existing intrinsic image models to accurately account for the effects of illuminant color and sensor characteristics in the estimation of intrinsic images and presents a generic framework which incorporates insights from color constancy research to the intrinsic image decomposition problem. The proposed mathematical formulation includes information about the color of the illuminant and the effects of the camera sensors, both of which modify the observed color of the reflectance of the objects in the scene during the acquisition process. By modeling these effects, we get a "truly intrinsic" reflectance image, which we call absolute reflectance, which is invariant to changes of illuminant or camera sensors. This model allows us to represent a wide range of intrinsic image decompositions depending on the specific assumptions on the geometric properties of the scene configuration and the spectral properties of the light source and the acquisition system, thus unifying previous models in a single general framework. We demonstrate that even partial information about sensors improves significantly the estimated reflectance images, thus making our method applicable for a wide range of sensors. We validate our general intrinsic image framework experimentally with both synthetic data and natural images.

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