Document Type


Source of Publication

IEEE Access

Publication Date



© 2013 IEEE. Background subtraction techniques model the background of the scene using the stationarity property and classify the scene into two classes namely foreground and background. In doing so, most moving objects become foreground indiscriminately, except in dynamic scenes (such as those with some waving tree leaves, water ripples, or a water fountain), which are typically 'learned' as part of the background using a large training set of video data. We introduce a novel concept of background as the objects other than the foreground, which may include moving objects in the scene that cannot be learned from a training set because they occur only irregularly and sporadically, e.g. a walking person. We propose a 'selective subtraction' method as an alternative to standard background subtraction, and show that a reference plane in a scene viewed by two cameras can be used as the decision boundary between foreground and background. In our definition, the foreground may actually occur behind a moving object. Furthermore, the reference plane can be selected in a very flexible manner, using for example the actual moving objects in the scene, if needed. We extend this idea to allow multiple reference planes resulting in multiple foregrounds or backgrounds. We present diverse set of examples to show that: 1) the technique performs better than standard background subtraction techniques without the need for training, camera calibration, disparity map estimation, or special camera configurations; 2) it is potentially more powerful than standard methods because of its flexibility of making it possible to select in real-time what to filter out as background, regardless of whether the object is moving or not, or whether it is a rare event or a frequent one. Furthermore, we show that this technique is relatively immune to camera motion and performs well for hand-held cameras.




Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.



First Page


Last Page



Computer Sciences


Background subtraction, image understanding, object detection

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series