Faculty Advisor

Emmanuel O. Agu


Previsualization is a class of techniques for creating approximate previews of a movie sequence in order to visualize a scene prior to shooting it on the set. Often these techniques are used to convey the artistic direction of the story in terms of cinematic elements, such as camera movement, angle, lighting, dialogue, and character motion. Essentially, a movie director uses previsualization (previs) to convey movie visuals as he sees them in his "minds-eye". Traditional methods for previs include hand-drawn sketches, Storyboards, scaled models, and photographs, which are created by artists to convey how a scene or character might look or move. A recent trend has been to use 3D graphics applications such as video game engines to perform previs, which is called 3D previs. This type of previs is generally used prior to shooting a scene in order to choreograph camera or character movements. To visualize a scene while being recorded on-set, directors and cinematographers use a technique called On-set previs, which provides a real-time view with little to no processing. Other types of previs, such as Technical previs, emphasize accurately capturing scene properties but lack any interactive manipulation and are usually employed by visual effects crews and not for cinematographers or directors. This dissertation's focus is on creating a new method for interactive visualization that will automatically capture the on-set lighting and provide interactive manipulation of cinematic elements to facilitate the movie maker's artistic expression, validate cinematic choices, and provide guidance to production crews. Our method will overcome the drawbacks of the all previous previs methods by combining photorealistic rendering with accurately captured scene details, which is interactively displayed on a mobile capture and rendering platform.

This dissertation describes a new hardware and software previs framework that enables interactive visualization of on-set post-production elements. A three-tiered framework, which is the main contribution of this dissertation is; 1) a novel programmable camera architecture that provides programmability to low-level features and a visual programming interface, 2) new algorithms that analyzes and decomposes the scene photometrically, and 3) a previs interface that leverages the previous to perform interactive rendering and manipulation of the photometric and computer generated elements. For this dissertation we implemented a programmable camera with a novel visual programming interface. We developed the photometric theory and implementation of our novel relighting technique called Symmetric lighting, which can be used to relight a scene with multiple illuminants with respect to color, intensity and location on our programmable camera. We analyzed the performance of Symmetric lighting on synthetic and real scenes to evaluate the benefits and limitations with respect to the reflectance composition of the scene and the number and color of lights within the scene. We found that, since our method is based on a Lambertian reflectance assumption, our method works well under this assumption but that scenes with high amounts of specular reflections can have higher errors in terms of relighting accuracy and additional steps are required to mitigate this limitation. Also, scenes which contain lights whose colors are a too similar can lead to degenerate cases in terms of relighting. Despite these limitations, an important contribution of our work is that Symmetric lighting can also be leveraged as a solution for performing multi-illuminant white balancing and light color estimation within a scene with multiple illuminants without limits on the color range or number of lights. We compared our method to other white balance methods and show that our method is superior when at least one of the light colors is known a priori.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Computer Science

Project Type


Date Accepted





programmable cameras, active illumination, multi-illuminant white balance, computational Photography, previsualization, computational cameras, relighting