Joint Colloquium Distinguished Lecture Series

Lighting, Reflection and Rendering: Appearance for Graphics and Vision

photo of Ravi Ramamoorthi Wednesday, October 29, 2008
306 Soda Hall (HP Auditorium)
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Ravi Ramamoorthi
Associate Professor, Computer Science Department
Columbia University

Downloadable PDF


Much of the beauty of our visual world comes from the effects of richly illuminated indoor and outdoor environments, complex reflections and glossy materials like paints, velvet or silk, and intricate shading effects like soft shadows from the leaves of a tree in skylight. My research program develops the mathematical and computational models for these types of lighting and reflection effects, providing a unified approach to a number of applications of visual appearance in computer graphics and vision.

I will first describe our work in high quality real-time rendering, where our models of lighting and reflection have enabled interactive image synthesis with natural lighting, realistic materials and soft shadows. I will also discuss some more recent work on modeling the volumetric scattering of light in the atmosphere, leading to effects like glows around light sources and dimming and diffusing of surface shading. I then discuss a variety of projects in data-driven appearance capture, modeling and rendering. We describe methods for "inverse rendering" to estimate lighting and reflectance, image-based rendering of faces from a single input image, new data-driven models for human skin, and the acquisition and editing of spatially and temporally varying appearance. Finally, I discuss the use of realistic appearance in computer vision, including low-dimensional subspaces for complex lighting, and more recent work on frequency domain invariants that can be used to detect tampering and splicing in images.


Ravi Ramamoorthi will be joining the EECS Department at UC Berkeley in Jan 2009, coming from Columbia University where he is currently an associate professor of computer science. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 2002, and his BS and MS degrees from Caltech in 1998. He is interested in many areas of computer graphics and vision, including mathematical foundations, real-time photorealistic rendering, image-based and inverse rendering, and lighting and appearance in computer vision. He received the 2007 ACM SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher Award in computer graphics for "his groundbreaking work on mathematical representations and computational models for the visual appearance of objects." Earlier that year, he was also named an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator for his work on "mathematical models of illumination and reflectance for image understanding and machine vision." Previously, he received a Sloan Research Fellowship and an NSF Career award in 2005. A video of his work is available at

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