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DOI 10.1007/s00348-008-0521-5

RESEARCH ARTICLE

B. Wieneke

Received: 13 December 2007 / Revised: 25 March 2008 / Accepted: 16 May 2008 / Published online: 13 June 2008

Ó Springer-Verlag 2008

standard for stereo PIV to correct misalignments between

laser light sheet and calibration plane. Computing cross- Standard in situ calibration methods for stereo PIV and

correlation between images from camera 1 and 2 taken at volumetric velocimetry techniques employ an accurately

the same time, non-zero disparity vectors indicate rota- manufactured planar calibration plate with known marks

tional and translational misalignments relative to the translated in a controlled way through the illuminated sheet

coordinate system defined by a calibration plate. This or volume. With a dual-plane 3D calibration plate a single

approach works well for thin light sheets but fails for recording is sufficient for a thin sheet eliminating the need

extended volumes recorded in 3D-PTV or tomographic for a translation stage. Alternatively, one can use multiple

PIV experiments. Here it is primarily necessary to correct recordings of a planar calibration plate at arbitrary posi-

calibration errors leading to triangulation errors in 3D-PTV tions and process by camera pinhole model and bundle

or in degraded tomographic volume reconstruction. adjustment fit, which is a common procedure in computer

Tomographic PIV requires calibration accuracies of a vision. The outcome of the calibration is a mapping func-

fraction of a pixel throughout the complete volume, which tion M(X, Y, Z) from space to camera pixel coordinates

is difficult to achieve experimentally. A new volumetric (x, y):

self-calibration technique has been developed based on the

ðxi ; yi Þ ¼ Mi ðX; Y; Z Þ ð1Þ

computation of the 3D position of matching particles by

triangulation as in 3D-PTV. The residual triangulation for all cameras i. Details concerning calibration procedures

error (‘disparity’) is then used to correct the mapping and functional forms of the mapping function can be found

functions for all cameras. A statistical clustering method in the literature (Soloff et al. 1997; Prasad 2000; Calluaud

suitable for dense particle images has been implemented to and David 2004; Scarano et al. 2005). For stereo PIV there

find correct disparity map peaks from true particle matches. are basically two types of calibration errors.

Disparity maps from multiple recordings are summed for First the mapping function M itself can be erroneous due

better statistics. This self-calibration scheme has been to inaccurate calibration plates, inaccurate plate movement,

validated using several tomographic PIV experiments mechanical instabilities, optical distortions not accounted

improving the vector quality significantly. The relevance for by the mapping function and other error sources. Even

for other 3D velocimetry methods is discussed. with great care the maximum errors are typically above

0.5–2 pixel in some region of the mapped volume. This is

usually not a problem for stereo PIV, because the 2C-dis-

placement vectors are still computed accurately for both

cameras, only for the 3C-reconstruction the two vectors are

taken from slightly different world positions. Apart from

B. Wieneke (&) the case of very high velocity gradients a calibration error

LaVision GmbH, Anna-Vandenhoeck-Ring 19,

37081 Gottingen, Germany of 1 pixel is not relevant compared to other common error

e-mail: bwieneke@lavision.de sources.

123

550 Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556

More significant for stereo PIV is the second type of first summarized followed by a detailed explanation of

error resulting from a translational and rotational mis- each step.

alignment between the coordinate system defined by the The first step is localizing 2D particle positions in the

calibration plate position (at z = 0) compared to the actual image of each camera and finding corresponding 3D par-

light sheet position. Typical disparity errors are in the ticle positions by matching and triangulation which is

range of 5–20 pixel. Advanced ‘self-calibration’ or ‘mis- essentially the first part of the 3D-PTV algorithm as shown

alignment correction’ methods have been developed in Fig. 1 for three cameras. One should note that 3D-PTV

correcting such a misalignment using the actual recorded and tomographic PIV is usually done with four cameras.

particle images (Willert 1997; Coudert and Schon 2001; The 2D-particle positions (x, y) of camera i of a single

Scarano et al. 2005; Wieneke 2005). This is done by taking particle in space are triangulated into a best-fit world

images from camera 1 and 2 recorded at the same time, position (X, Y, Z). The optimization criterion is usually

then dewarping them to the world plane z = 0, which done by minimizing the sum of the distances x0i ; y0i

corresponds to the position of the calibration plate, fol- ðxi ; yi Þj where ðx0i ; y0i Þ is the projection of (X, Y, Z) back to

lowed by cross-correlation. The resulting 2D disparity image of camera i (Hartley and Sturm 1994). For a perfect

vector field should be zero, that is, the two images are mapping function the line of sights of all cameras intersect

exactly matched. Non-zero disparity vectors can be used in in a single world point resulting in a zero disparity di of

an appropriate way to shift and rotate the coordinate system

di ¼ dix ; diy ¼ x0i ; y0i ðxi ; yi Þ ð2Þ

such that the new z = 0 plane coincides with the actual light

sheet position. Collecting disparities di for all particles throughout the

Even large displacements can be detected and corrected volume is then used to correct the mapping functions M to

eliminating the need to accurately align the calibration M0

plate with the light sheet in the first place. One should note Mi0 ðX; Y; Z Þ ¼ Mi ðX; Y; Z Þ di ðX; Y; Z Þ ð3Þ

that the disparity correlation peak is actually an extended

streak with a length proportional to light sheet thickness. with an appropriate validation and interpolation of the

The correction method works well for thin Gaussian light sparse disparities di for each particle into a continuous field

sheets, but fails for thicker sheets and volumes since the or a similar method described below in more detail.

correlation streak becomes too long, too weak and frag- This basic principle works well with sparsely seeded

mented, even showing multiple peaks from non-Gaussian 3D-PTV images with, for example, 1,000–5,000 particles

intensity profiles. in each image, where the matching of corresponding par-

For scanning light sheet stereo PIV (Brücker 1996; Hori ticle images is done with a high confidence level ([95%)

and Sakakibara 2004) this self-calibration method can be (Maas 1996). But it does not work without further refine-

used to detect the exact position for all light sheets with a ment for densely seeded images from tomographic PIV.

single rough volume calibration before. Due to inaccura- Here the particle seeding density is much higher with

cies of the mechanical scanning mechanism such a typically [50,000 particles in each image equivalent to

calculation might be required for each recorded image. particle densities per pixel in the images of up to 0.1 ppp

For 3D-PTV and especially for tomographic PIV with (particles per pixel) similar to standard planar PIV. Ideally

extended volumes the first type of error relating to inac-

curate mapping functions is more relevant. The

tomographic reconstruction step requires that each voxel

position in space is mapped to a camera pixel position with

an error less than 0.4 pixel (Elsinga et al. 2006), preferably

less than 0.1 pixel. Therefore a volumetric self-calibration

technique is needed, which is capable of correcting the

mapping function throughout the volume. This is described

in the next section, followed by an experimental verifica-

tion using tomographic PIV showing significant

improvement of the vector field quality.

2 Method

The basic principle of correcting mapping function errors Fig. 1 Residual triangulation disparities di ðX; Y; Z Þ ¼ ðxi ; yi Þ

in a volume using the actual recorded particle images is ðx0i ; y0i Þ due to calibration errors

123

Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556 551

one would record first a number of images with less correction. In addition given such high densities the

seeding density, but this is often inconvenient or even not probability of overlapping particles is high which leads to

possible. erroneous 2D and 3D particle positions and noisy

Figure 2 shows the procedure to match particle images disparities.

corresponding to the same particle in space. For each The solution is to apply an appropriate clustering tech-

particle in the image of camera 1 one finds particles located nique and using not all particles but only the brightest, for

within a stripe defined by the uncertainty emax along the example, 10%. Immediately the number of ghost particles

length Lz which is the projection of the line of sight of is reduced by nearly several orders of magnitude with the

camera 1 through the illuminated volume from z1 to z2 added advantage that even in case of overlapping particles

viewed by camera 2 (‘epipolar line’). For the combination the bright particles are much less influenced by another

of particle images for camera 1 and 2 a 3D particle position overlapping weak particle. Usually image preprocessing

(X, Y, Z) is computed by triangulation. Then for each including global and local intensity renormalization is

particle in the stripe it is checked if in the image of camera applied to the four camera images to subtract background

3 and 4 there is a corresponding particle within ±emax intensities and to correct particle intensity differences due

around the projection of (X, Y, Z) onto camera 3 and 4 to (e.g., forward–backward) laser scattering differences. A

image. The allowed uncertainty emax must be larger than single threshold for all camera images can then be used so

the largest expected calibration error. For 3D-PTV with that the group of particles above a certain threshold is about

low seeding density and four cameras one rarely detects the same in all camera images.

any incorrect ghost particles. The ratio R of ghost particles The complete self-calibration procedure can be divided

to true particles is a strong function of the seeding density into the following steps:

nppp and allowed error emax:

a. Measuring 2D particle positions in all camera images.

R ¼ 8 Lz e5max n3ppp ð4Þ b. Determining possible 3D particle positions by

Typical conditions with, for example, Lz = 200 pixel, triangulation.

nppp = 0.05 ppp and allowed error emax = 4 pixel lead to c. Subdividing the complete illuminated volume into nx

R = 205 times more ghost particles than true ones. Obvi- ny nz sub-volumes.

ously it is then very difficult to identify the true particles d. Plotting the disparities of all particles in a sub-volume

and their disparity to be used for the mapping function as a 2D disparity map.

procedure

123

552 Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556

e. Summing disparity maps for each sub-volume and which is then used in Eq. 2. Of course, for the reference

all cameras over many recordings to get better camera the disparity is zero. Whether one should use a

statistics. reference camera deserves further investigation. Tomo-

f. For each disparity map detecting highest disparity peak graphic experiments so far have been mostly indifferent,

which is the most probable disparity vector di(X,Y,Z). with a few working better with one or the other method.

g. Validating and optionally smoothing of the 3D2C Having collected possible 3D particles in space one now

disparity vector field di. needs to separate disparities from true accurate 2D/3D

h. Correcting mapping functions Mi according to Eq. 3 particle positions from ghost particles and inaccurate ones

for all cameras i. due to overlapping particles. There are many suitable

i. Repeating the complete procedure as a check and for clustering techniques available. The one used here is based

further improvement. on displaying the disparities for each sub-volume in a 2D

disparity map as a histogram with each measurement point

Step a As described above a suitable threshold is plotted as a small 2D Gauss blob. For example, the dis-

selected to only use the brightest, for example, 10% of parity map might be of size of, for example, ±30 pixel

all 2D particle images. Particle fitting itself is done in a corresponding to a maximum allowed disparity emax of ±3

standard way with a 5 9 5 2D Gauss fit, reduced to a pixel, and each disparity di is plotted at position (dix, diy) as

3 9 3 Gauss fit if a neighboring particles gets too close, a 2D Gauss blob with a constant width of 2 pixel (0.2 pixel

that is, if an outer rim pixel is brighter than the inner in units of disparity error).

3 9 3 core, falling back to a dual x and y 1D Gauss fit The width of the Gauss curves provides sub-pixel

which always work. For isolated particles the position accuracy for the position of the highest disparity peak (step

accuracy is typically below 0.1 pixel depending on f) similar to correlation peaks in standard PIV. It should be

optical conditions and particle size etc. made larger in case of few detected particles. The height of

Step b The triangulation procedure computes all possible the Gauss curve is set to 1 for all particles. Alternatively,

particles in space with a triangulation uncertainty di one could use the particle intensity of the 2D peak finder to

(Eq. 2) smaller than emax as shown in Fig. 2. account for the light intensity variations across the volume.

Step c The complete illuminated volume is subdivided Such a display of the disparity allows a good visual

into nx ny nz sub-volumes (e.g., 5 9 5 9 5) in order to inspection of the data quality. This is shown in Fig. 3 for a

collect sufficient 3D particles in each sub-volumes. real tomographic PIV experiment. One can guess that the

Step d For each sub-volume and all 3D particles within true disparity peak is at the top-right, but there are not yet

the sub-volume a small 2D Gauss blob is plotted at the enough particles for good statistics.

disparity position (dix, diy) in a square of, for example,

50 9 50 pixels corresponding to the allowed maximum Step e Disparity maps from multiple recordings are

error ±emax. For each camera i a separate disparity map summed for better statistics. Most often a single image

is generated. does not contain sufficient particles to add-up to a sharp

slightly different ways. The first step is always to use the

particle positions (xi, yi) in the images of camera i to

compute a best-fit world position (X, Y, Z) by triangulation

(Hartley and Sturm 1994) as in step b together with the

residual triangulation error di as the difference between

(xi0 , yi0 ) = Mi (X, Y, Z) and (xi, yi) (Eq. 2). One has an extra

degree of freedom which allows one to use one camera as a

reference assuming that the mapping function for this

camera is perfect thus correcting only the other mapping

functions. This is done by taking Z from the original tri-

angulation and computing an Xref and Yref by inverting the

mapping function for the reference camera:

1

ðXref ; Yref Þ ¼ Mref ðxref ; yref ; Z Þ ð5Þ

and using Xref and Yref for computing (xi0 , yi0 ) for the other

cameras:

x0i ; y0i ¼ Mi ðXref ; Yref ; Z Þ ð6Þ Fig. 3 Disparity map for a single sub-volume

123

Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556 553

unfragmented disparity peak, especially when choosing a Choosing an initial volume larger than the illuminated

large number of sub-volumes. Figure 4 shows the volume is a good method to actually measure the size of

emerging disparity peak when adding disparity maps the illuminated volume or, respectively, the common area

from up to 16 images. The final outcome is one disparity viewed by all cameras. Figure 5 shows the disparity maps

map for each sub-volume in each z-plane for all cameras. for consecutive z-planes on one side of the volume indi-

Figure 5 shows the disparity maps for all sub-volumes for cating at what z-plane the illumination starts. The volume

one camera in a series of z-planes spaced 1 mm apart. The is also slightly tilted with respect to the coordinate system

off-center disparity peaks in the fully illuminated bottom as evidence by the left to right decrease in the disparity

z-plane correspond to a calibration error of up to 2 pixel. peak visibility.

Step f The sub-pixel disparity peak location is deter-

Step h The mapping functions Mi are corrected for each

mined, for example, by a 2D or dual 1D-Gauss fit and

camera separately according to Eq. 3. Since the disparity

corresponds to the most likely disparity vector di. The

vector fields are given only on grid positions defined by

disparity peak width is a good indication of the accuracy

the center of possibly very few sub-volumes one needs

of the 2D peak finder. For the experiment in Fig. 4, it is

to interpolate the vector field to intermediate positions.

only slightly larger than the selected Gauss width of 0.2

We choose to calculate new mapping functions M0 on the

pixel, suggesting that the 2D peak finder accuracy is

z-planes defined by the sub-volumes. For each z-plane an

around 0.1 pixel. In rare cases it has been observed that

array of 20 9 20 points is taken for which the difference

the disparity peak is smeared due to error gradients within

between the original mapping function and the disparity

a single (large) sub-volume. Usually, the calibration

field is computed and a new M0 is fitted using third-order

errors are highly uniform across the complete volume.

polynomial functions in x and y (similar to Soloff et al.

Step g The outcome is a 3D2C disparity vector field for

1997).

each camera, one vector for each sub-volume. This vector

Step i The sequence of steps a–h can be repeated after

field is validated using a 3D universal outlier median filter

the first self-calibration to check whether the disparity

(Westerweel and Scarano 2005) over a region of, for

peaks are finally positioned at the center position (0,0).

example, 3 9 3 9 3 or 5 9 5 9 5 vectors. One can store

One can choose in subsequent iterations a smaller

secondary disparity peaks in step f for possible selection

maximum allowed disparity emax and a lower threshold

by the median filter in case the highest peak is eliminated.

for more true particles and at the same time less ghost

If the selected volume is larger, for example, in z-direction

particles. Usually, two or three iterations are sufficient to

than the actual illumination, then complete z-planes of

reduce the mapping function errors down to below 0.1

sub-volumes might show random outlier vectors.

pixel. At the same time the number of sub-volumes and

The median filter with a kernel of 5 9 5 9 5 is robust the selected volume can be adjusted. Often it is

enough to throw out even complete z-planes of random advantageous to start with (e.g., 2 9 2 9 2) sub-

vectors. Note that a 3D median filter is considerably more volumes to first correct roughly the mapping functions

robust than a 2D filter due to the increased number of and use finer divisions (e.g., 10 9 10 9 10) later for a

neighbor vectors within some spatial domain. Most often it detailed local analysis of the 3D calibration errors.

is indicated to apply some additional 3 9 3 9 3 vector

smoothing to reduce the error inherent in the whole process

(Fig. 6). The true disparity field usually varies little across 3 Application to tomographic PIV experiments

the image. So it is possible to smooth the estimated dis-

parity field heavily to prevent errors propagating into an This procedure is tested for a tomographic PIV experiment

erroneous new mapping function. in water observing a transitional wake behind a finite

Fig. 4 Summing disparity maps over 1–16 recordings. Color scaling is always from minimum to maximum intensity

123

554 Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556

b Fig. 5 Disparity maps for decreasing depth z from top (not illumi-

nated) to bottom (fully illuminated). Sub-volume size in xyz is about

8 9 8 9 1 mm

(Michaelis et al. 2006) with a volume of 73 9 46 9 16 mm

and a final 3D3C vector field with 141 9 89 9 29 vectors.

It turns out that the initial mapping function had errors of

up to 2–3 pixels close to the cylinder. After self-calibration

the errors are reduced to below 0.1–0.2 pixel.

The volume self-calibration procedure improves signif-

icantly the contrast of the reconstructed volume and the

quality of the vector field in terms of higher correlation

values and improved signal-to-noise ratios. the raw vector

field without any vector validation is shown in Fig. 7. Self-

calibration eliminates most outliers. The signal-to-noise

ratio of the (3D) vector correlation maps is almost twice as

large as before. Figure 8 shows the complete volume

vector field before and after the calibration procedure after

vector post-processing.

An important aspect is that without such a volumetric

self-calibration procedure one is not even aware of how

large the calibration errors actually are. As it turned out,

even with great care during the calibration procedure there

was hardly any experiment where the calibration errors did

not exceed 1 or 2 pixels in some corner of the volume.

In one experiment viewing with cameras from opposite

side of the volume it was possible to correct calibration

errors in the range of 7 pixels arising due to a double-sided

calibration plate tilted slightly relative to the z-direction in

which it was moved. This resulted in the two cameras on

the back side being shifted relative to the front side

cameras.

Not knowing how large the error actually was one

started out with emax = 3 pixel, not finding any peaks in the

disparity maps. Then one had to gradually increase emax

and carefully adjusts the particle detection threshold to

minimize the ghost particles and processing time. With

emax = 10 (400 times as many ghost particles as for emax =

3) and only using 2 9 2 9 2 sub-volumes it was finally

possible to see a faint disparity peak among the vast

amount of ghost particles. Once this large error had been

corrected in a first step it was then easy to further reduce

the calibration errors down to 0.1 pixels with fine local

resolution possible due to otherwise high-contrast, low-

noise images with particle densities less than 0.05 ppp.

For standard stereo PIV and scanning light sheet stereo PIV

(Brücker 1996; Hori and Sakakibara 2004) the planar

stereo PIV self-calibration method is usually sufficient to

123

Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556 555

field (left) and after vector

validation and smoothing (right)

measure and correct the position and rotation of the light self-calibration is then required to reduce the calibration

sheets which typically lead to disparities of 5–20 pixel. errors to acceptable levels.

Remaining calibration errors of the order of a few pixels Finally, volumetric self-calibration is also recommended

are only relevant in case of very strong local velocity for standard 3D-PTV. For low seeding densities and unique

gradients. But especially for thick light sheets required, for conversion of 2D particle positions into a 3D particle

example, for cross-flow measurements the volumetric self- position, a high systematic triangulation error is not criti-

calibration technique is recommended. Here standard pla- cal. But for higher seeding densities the correction of

nar self-calibration often fails if the light sheet profile is not calibration errors by volumetric self-calibration makes it

nicely Gaussian, but, for example, shows multiple intensity possible to choose a very small threshold for the maximum

peaks within the long correlation streak. allowed triangulation error. This significantly reduces the

Thick light sheet PIV images can be processed with the number of ghost particles and can provide some rejection

tomographic PIV algorithm usually adding a third or criteria for overlapping particles which otherwise lead to

fourth camera (Wieneke and Taylor 2006). Volumetric inaccurate 3D particle positions.

Table 1 summarizes the importance of the two self-

calibration algorithms for correcting laser sheet misalign-

ments and mapping function errors, respectively, for the

Fig. 7 Z-plane of volume vector field without (top) and with (bottom)

volume self-calibration. Shown is the raw vector field without vector Fig. 8 Complete 3D flow field without (top) and after self-calibration

validation with the 3D vorticity magnitude as background color and (bottom) with 3D vorticity colored according to dominant sense of

every fourth vector in x-direction rotation (Michaelis et al. 2006)

123

556 Exp Fluids (2008) 45:549–556

Table 1 Relevance of calibration errors for different techniques been reduced to 0.1–0.2 pixel. The method is also useful

Technique Inaccurate Misalignment

for stereo PIV especially with thicker light sheets since

mapping between here the standard planar self-calibration technique often

function calibration fails due to multiple intensity peaks within the light sheet.

plate and For 3D-PTV the method can reduce the number of ghost

light sheet

particles allowing higher seeding densities.

Stereo PIV - ++

Thick-sheet tomographic PIV ++ ++

Full-volume tomographic PIV ++ - References

3D-PTV + -

Brücker Ch (1996) 3-D scanning-particle-image-velocimetry: tech-

+ Strong, - Weak nique and application to a spherical cap wake flow. Exp Fluids

56:157–179

different planar and volumetric particle image velocimetry Calluaud D, David L (2004) Stereoscopic particle image velocimetry

techniques. measurements of a flow around a surface-mounted block. Exp

Fluids 36:33–61

Coudert S, Schon JP (2001) Back-projection algorithm with mis-

alignment corrections for 2D3C stereoscopic PIV. Meas Sci

5 Summary Technol 12:1371–1381

Elsinga GE, Scarano F, Wieneke B, van Oudheusden BW (2006)

Tomographic particle image velocimetry. Exp Fluids 41:933–

A volumetric self-calibration technique has been developed

947

to correct mapping function errors using the actual Hartley R, Sturm P (1994) Triangulation. ARPA Image Understand-

recordings of the particle images. This is especially rele- ing Workshop, Monterey, pp 957–966

vant for tomographic PIV where the mapping errors should Hori T, Sakakibara J (2004) High speed scanning stereoscopic PIV

for 3D vorticity measurement in liquids. Meas Sci Technol

be below 0.3 pixel. The method is based on detection of 2D

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particle images and triangulation of the 3D particle position Maas HG (1996) Contributions of digital photogrammatry to 3D PTV.

in space. Particle images are usually intensity normalized In: Dracos T (ed) Three-dimensional velocity and vorticity

across the image and between cameras to account for measuring and image annalysis techniques. Kluwer, Dordrecht,

pp 191–208

Mie-scattering differences, and a threshold is used to select

Michaelis D, Poelma C, Scarano F, Westerweel J, Wieneke B (2006)

only the, for example, 10% brightest particles. Back-pro- A 3D time-resolved cylinder wake survey by Tomographic PIV.

jecting the 3D position toward the camera images and In: 12th international symposium on flow visualization, Göttin-

comparing to the original position provides a disparity gen, Germany, 10–14 September

Prasad A (2000) Stereoscopic particle image velocimetry. Exp Fluids

error for each particle. Collecting disparities for all parti-

29:103–116

cles throughout the volume and a suitable clustering Scarano F, David L, Bsibsi M, Calluaud D (2005) S-PIV comparative

method to eliminate false 3D particles one obtains a 3D2C assessment: image dewarping + misalignment correction and

disparity vector field for each camera. Sufficient statistics is pinhole + geometric back projection. Exp Fluids 39:257–266

Soloff SM, Adrian RJ, Liu ZC (1997) Distortion compensation for

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After vector field validation and smoothing this disparity Technol 8:1441–1454

field is then used to correct the original mapping function. Westerweel J, Scarano F (2005) A universal detection criterion for the

It is also possible to measure the actual extent and rotation median test. Exp Fluids 39–6, 1096

Wieneke B (2005) Stereo-PIV using self-calibration on particle

of the illuminated volume from the disparity maps.

images. Exp Fluids 39:267–280

The technique has been applied successfully to a number Wieneke B, Taylor S (2006) Fat-sheet PIV with computation of full

of tomographic PIV experiments improving significantly 3D-strain tensor using tomographic reconstruction. In: 13th

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fluid mechanics, Lisbon

in most experiments even with a careful calibration pro-

Willert C (1997) Stereoscopic digital particle image velocimetry for

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123

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