- [pdf] [arXiv]
Puck Localization and Multi-Task Event Recognition in Broadcast Hockey Videos
Puck localization is an important problem in ice hockey video analytics useful for analyzing the game, determining play location, and assessing puck possession. The problem is challenging due to the small size of the puck, excessive motion blur due to high puck velocity, and occlusions due to players and boards. In this paper, we introduce and implement a network for puck localization in broadcast hockey video. The network leverages expert NHL play-by-play annotations and uses temporal context to locate the puck. Player locations are incorporated into the network through an attention mechanism by encoding player positions with a Gaussian-based spatial heatmap drawn at player positions. Since event occurrence on the rink and puck location are related, we also perform event recognition by augmenting the puck localization network with an event recognition head and training the network through multi-task learning. Experimental results demonstrate that the network is able to localize the puck with an AUC of 73.1 % on the test set. The puck location can be inferred in 720p broadcast videos at 5 frames per second. It is also demonstrated that multi-task learning with puck location improves event recognition accuracy.