Precise object segmentation in image data is a fundamental problem with various applications, including 3D object reconstruction. We present an efficient algorithm to automatically segment a static foreground object from highly cluttered background in light fields. A key insight and contribution of our article is that a significant increase of the available input data can enable the design of novel, highly efficient approaches. In particular, the central idea of our method is to exploit high spatio-angular sampling on the order of thousands of input frames, for example, captured as a hand-held video, such that new structures are revealed due to the increased coherence in the data. We first show how purely local gradient information contained in slices of such a dense light field can be combined with information about the camera trajectory to make efficient estimates of the foreground and background. These estimates are then propagated to textureless regions using edge-aware filtering in the epipolar volume. Finally, we enforce global consistency in a gathering step to derive a precise object segmentation in both 2D and 3D space, which captures fine geometric details even in very cluttered scenes. The design of each of these steps is motivated by efficiency and scalability, allowing us to handle large, real-world video datasets on a standard desktop computer. We demonstrate how the results of our method can be used for considerably improving the speed and quality of image-based 3D reconstruction algorithms, and we compare our results to state-of-the-art segmentation and multiview stereo methods.
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