Advancing the development of realistic digital imaging
While digitisation has advanced imaging technology to a level that was once unimaginable, it still only captures a fraction of what the human eye can see. But this could soon be changed, thanks in part to the advent of realistic digital imaging. “The aim of realistic digital imaging is to create high-quality imagery that faithfully represents the physical environment,” says Søren Forchhammer, a professor of Visual Communication Technology at the Technical University of Denmark. “The ultimate goal is to create images that are perceptually indistinguishable from a real scene.” With the support of the EU-funded RealVision project, Forchhammer is leading an effort to advance the development of realistic digital imaging. “We set out to train the next generation of scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who will move Europe into a leading role in innovative hyperrealistic imaging technologies,” he adds.
Training early-stage researchers in visual processing
The project brought together a network of top universities, industry and businesses focused on multimedia, optics, visual communication and computing, computer graphics, and human vision research. Together, this network trained early-stage researchers (ESRs) in the fundamentals of visual processing, starting with image acquisition and continuing through to their processing, display and perception. “With this training, the network then turned its attention to expanding visual quality across all dimensions of spatial and temporal resolution, high dynamic range, and colour,” notes Forchhammer. “We also looked at using multicamera imaging as a means of conveying the notion of depth.” As to the latter, the project developed a reconfigurable multicamera with multiview capture capability. The camera uses a novel algorithm to capture and create high-quality visual experiences based on the captured data. Using the device, the project successfully captured a first high-resolution, high dynamic range light field data set.
Visually reproducing a real-world 3D object
The project, which was undertaken with the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, also developed and built a high dynamic range multifocal stereo (HDR-MF-S) display with an end-to-end imaging and rendering system. “This system can visually reproduce a real-world 3D object with accurate colour, contrast, disparity and focal depth,” explains Forchhammer. “Even more impressive, it is the first work that achieves a close perceptual match between a near-eye real-world 3D object and its displayed counterpart.” Furthermore, the network studied a concept of immersion widely associated with novel display and hyperrealistic technologies. After scientifically defining the concept, researchers implemented a methodology for the subjective testing of immersion, and conducted an experiment evaluating its influence on spatial-audio perception within an audiovisual set-up.
A path forward to reproducing reality
Add these outcomes up and what you get is a clear path forward to reproducing reality. “By researching, developing and demonstrating hyperrealistic imaging solutions, we’ve laid the foundation for achieving high dynamic range, multicamera imaging,” says Forchhammer. Ultimately, the project’s biggest achievement is its trained ESRs, who Forchhammer says will have a significant impact on the European visual industry. “As these researchers bring their ideas and experiences into industry and other projects, we will continue to advance towards achieving our goal of creating images that are perceptually indistinguishable from reality,” he concludes.
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