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OpenCV Camera Calibration from Google Colab

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Our previous post on camera calibration directly from a video stream using OpenCV is outdated. In a future post, we will develop a Colab Notebook to calculate the distance between already detected fiduciary markers; we need to calibrate the camera performing the detection. This post provides a method for directly obtaining the camera matrix and distortion coefficients using OpenCV (the technique is in this link) using Google Colab.

The code for this demonstration is heavily adapted from our previous post on ARuco marker detection and is not necessarily optimal. We will need the following libraries:

import base64
import io
import time
import numpy as np
from PIL import Image
import cv2
from string import Template
import pandas as pd
import html
from IPython.display import display, Javascript, clear_output
from google.colab.output import eval_js

We are reusing the same section of Javascript code (adapted from this external post) that will enable the use of our webcam through the internet and into the Colab server:

# The start_input function code is adapted from:
def start_input(video_width=512, video_height=512):
  js_script = Template('''
    var video;
    var div = null;
    var stream;
    var captureCanvas;
    var imgElement;
    var labelElement;
    var pendingResolve = null;
    var shutdown = false;
    function removeDom() {
       video = null;
       div = null;
       stream = null;
       imgElement = null;
       captureCanvas = null;
       labelElement = null;
    function onAnimationFrame() {
      if (!shutdown) {
      if (pendingResolve) {
        var result = "";
        if (!shutdown) {
          captureCanvas.getContext('2d').drawImage(video, 0, 0, $video_width, $video_height);
          result = captureCanvas.toDataURL('image/jpeg', 0.8)
        var lp = pendingResolve;
        pendingResolve = null;
    async function createDom() {
      if (div !== null) {
        return stream;
      div = document.createElement('div'); = '2px solid black'; = '3px'; = '100%'; = '600px';
      const modelOut = document.createElement('div');
      modelOut.innerHTML = "<span>Status:</span>";
      labelElement = document.createElement('span');
      labelElement.innerText = 'No data'; = 'bold';
      video = document.createElement('video'); = 'block';
      video.width = div.clientWidth - 6;
      video.setAttribute('playsinline', '');
      video.onclick = () => { shutdown = true; };
      stream = await navigator.mediaDevices.getUserMedia(
          {video: { facingMode: "environment"}});
      imgElement = document.createElement('img'); = 'absolute'; = 1;
      imgElement.onclick = () => { shutdown = true; };
      const instruction = document.createElement('div');
      instruction.innerHTML = 
          '<span style="color: red; font-weight: bold;">' +
          'Click here or on the video window to stop stream.</span>';
      instruction.onclick = () => { shutdown = true; };
      video.srcObject = stream;
      captureCanvas = document.createElement('canvas');
      captureCanvas.width = $video_width; //video.videoWidth;
      captureCanvas.height = $video_height; //video.videoHeight;
      return stream;

    async function takePhoto(label, imgData) {
      if (shutdown) {
        shutdown = false;
        return '';
      var preCreate =;
      stream = await createDom();
      var preShow =;
      if (label != "") {
        labelElement.innerHTML = label;
      if (imgData != "") {
        var videoRect = video.getClientRects()[0]; = + "px"; = videoRect.left + "px"; = videoRect.width + "px"; = videoRect.height + "px";
        imgElement.src = imgData;
      var preCapture =;
      var result = await new Promise(function(resolve, reject) {
        pendingResolve = resolve;
      shutdown = false;
      return {'create': preShow - preCreate, 
              'show': preCapture - preShow, 
              'capture': - preCapture,
              'img': result};
  js = Javascript(js_script.substitute(video_width=video_width,


Of course, we are reusing the image capture, modification, and broadcasting code. In addition, we are altering the get_drawing_array function to perform a calibration function instead of a marker detection function:

def take_photo(label, img_data):
  js_function = Template('takePhoto("$label", "$img_data")')
  data = eval_js(js_function.substitute(label=label, img_data=img_data))
  return data

def js_reply_to_image(js_reply):
  jpeg_bytes = base64.b64decode(js_reply['img'].split(',')[1])
  image_PIL =
  image_array = np.array(image_PIL)
  return image_array
def get_drawing_array(image_array, video_width=512, video_height=512):    
  drawing_array = np.zeros([video_width, video_height, 4], dtype=np.uint8)
  # The drawing_array is assigned from calibrate now:
  drawing_array, results = calibrate(image_array, drawing_array)
  drawing_array[:, :, 3] = (drawing_array.max(axis=2) > 0 ).astype(int)*255
  return drawing_array, results

def drawing_array_to_bytes(drawing_array):
  drawing_PIL = Image.fromarray(drawing_array, 'RGBA')
  iobuf = io.BytesIO(), format='png')
  var_js = str(base64.b64encode(iobuf.getvalue()), 'utf-8')
  fixed_js = Template('data:image/png;base64, $var_js')
  drawing_bytes = fixed_js.substitute(var_js=var_js)
  return drawing_bytes

The constant and empty arrays needed to perform the calibration are declared next. Changing MIN_POINTS will require fewer points for the calibration and will take less time, but the results may be worse:

# Define the dimensions of checkerboard

# Stop the iteration when specified
# accuracy, epsilon, is reached or
# specified number of iterations are completed.
criteria = (cv2.TERM_CRITERIA_EPS +
            cv2.TERM_CRITERIA_MAX_ITER, 30, 0.001)

# Vector for the 3D points:
threedpoints = []

# Vector for 2D points:
twodpoints = [] 

# 3D points real world coordinates:
objectp3d = np.zeros((1, CHECKERBOARD[0]
                      * CHECKERBOARD[1],
                      3), np.float32)

objectp3d[0, :, :2] = np.mgrid[0:CHECKERBOARD[0],
                              0:CHECKERBOARD[1]].T.reshape(-1, 2)
prev_img_shape = None

Our calibration function will take the input image from the camera, travel through the internet, and, taking a while, will try to detect the chessboard pattern and calculate the camera aberration introduced in lines that should otherwise be straight:

def calibrate(image, output_image):

  matrix, distortion = None, None
  grayColor = cv2.cvtColor(image, cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)

  progress_message = "Points: "+str(len(twodpoints))+" of "+ str(MIN_POINTS)
  cv2.putText(output_image, progress_message,
          (10, 30), cv2.FONT_HERSHEY_DUPLEX,
          1, (0, 255, 0), 2)

  # Find the chess board corners
  # if desired number of corners are
  # found in the image then ret = true:
  ret, corners = cv2.findChessboardCorners(
                  grayColor, CHECKERBOARD,
                  + cv2.CALIB_CB_FAST_CHECK +

  # If desired number of corners can be detected then,
  # refine the pixel coordinates and display
  # them on the images of checker board
  if ret == True:

      # Refining pixel coordinates
      # for given 2d points.
      corners2 = cv2.cornerSubPix(
          grayColor, corners, CHECKERBOARD, (-1, -1), criteria)

      output_image = cv2.drawChessboardCorners(output_image, 
                                          corners2, ret)
      # When we have minimum number of data points, stop:
      if len(twodpoints) > MIN_POINTS:        
        h, w = output_image.shape[:2]

        # Perform camera calibration by
        # passing the value of above found out 3D points (threedpoints)
        # and its corresponding pixel coordinates of the
        # detected corners (twodpoints):
        ret, matrix, distortion, r_vecs, t_vecs = cv2.calibrateCamera(
            threedpoints, twodpoints, grayColor.shape[::-1], None, None)       

  return output_image, (ret, matrix, distortion)

Our main loop will stream the camera feed and stop when the minimum number of required points has been detected:

NoneType = type(None)
label_html = 'Capturing Webcam Stream.'
img_data = ''

while True:
    js_reply = take_photo(label_html, img_data)    
    if not js_reply:

    image = js_reply_to_image(js_reply)
    drawing_array, results = get_drawing_array(image)

    # When the calibration is done, we gather the results and stop:
    if type(results[1]) is not NoneType  and type(results[2]) is not NoneType:
      print("Camera Matrix:")
      # Turn the matrices into Pandas dataframes and then save as csv.
      # Of course these can be saved in any other format you prefer:
      cm = pd.DataFrame(results[1])
      print("\nCamera Distortion:")
      cd = pd.DataFrame(results[2])

    drawing_bytes = drawing_array_to_bytes(drawing_array)
    img_data = drawing_bytes

A chessboard pattern is needed to perform the calibration, we have made one using toy construction bricks, but the pattern does not form perfectly aligned lines, so that the calibration may be of low quality. Alternatively, a flat image of a chessboard can be used; the flatter and straighter the pattern is, the better the camera calibration will be. Effectively these chessboards are acting as our calibration tools. These are the videos showing the calibration being performed for 15 minimum points:

We will put this calibration to the test by calculating the distance between two markers in a follow-up post. Do not hesitate to contact us if you require quantitative model development, deployment, verification, or validation. We will also be glad to help you with your machine learning or artificial intelligence challenges when applied to asset management, automation, or intelligence gathering from satellite, drone, or fixed-point imagery.

The notebook to fully replicate this demonstration is here.

882 views3 comments


May 05, 2023

Thanks for the comment. Yes, that was the problem, usually the most easily found checkerboards are chess 8x8 boards, using a 7x7 board to find a 6x6 grid is also fine. Check our follow up posts for problems that may occur during calibration.


Nic Burkinshaw
Nic Burkinshaw
Apr 26, 2023

Hi, I have been looking at your sample code in colab and I just cannot get it to recognise chessboard corners, no matter how I move the checkerboard. Can you suggest what might be the problem?

Nic Burkinshaw
Nic Burkinshaw
Apr 27, 2023
Replying to

OK, my issue was that I saw the dimension as number of squares, rather than array size - my checkerboard is 7x7, so dimensions are (6, 6) - thanks for a useful introduction to the subject of camera calibration

# Define the dimensions of checkerboard CHECKERBOARD = (7 ,7)

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