Characteristics of surveillance video generally include low resolution and poor quality due to environmental, storage and processing limitations. It is extremely difficult for computers and human operators to identify individuals from these videos. To overcome this problem, super-resolution can be used in conjunction with an automated face recognition system to enhance the spatial resolution of video frames containing the subject and narrow down the number of manual verifications performed by the human operator by presenting a list of most likely candidates from the database. As the super-resolution reconstruction process is ill-posed, visual artifacts are often generated as a result. These artifacts can be visually distracting to humans and/or affect machine recognition algorithms. While it is intuitive that higher resolution should lead to improved recognition accuracy, the effects of super-resolution and such artifacts on face recognition performance have not been systematically studied. This paper aims to address this gap while illustrating that super-resolution allows more accurate identification of individuals from low-resolution surveillance footage. The proposed optical flow-based super-resolution method is benchmarked against Baker et al.’s hallucination and Schultz et al.’s super-resolution techniques on images from the Terrascope and XM2VTS databases. Ground truth and interpolated images were also tested to provide a baseline for comparison. Results show that a suitable super-resolution system can improve the discriminability of surveillance video and enhance face recognition accuracy. The experiments also show that Schultz et al.’s method fails when dealing surveillance footage due to its assumption of rigid objects in the scene. The hallucination and optical flow-based methods performed comparably, with the optical flow-based method producing less visually distracting artifacts that interfered with human recognition
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