Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

A sunny beach. A candlelit restaurant. A creepy dungeon. In the world of moviemaking, directors increasingly use digital tools to add real and virtual characters to different kinds of backgrounds. The key to making it look realistic? Lighting. “How actors are lit is a big deal,” says Paul Debevec, a computer scientist who heads the Graphics Laboratory at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. By creating more accurate artificial lighting on a computer, he says, his team is “giving filmmakers more flexibility” in their shots and more efficient ways to generate effects. Which means time and money saved on shooting, editing, and drawing graphics-not to mention more convincing results. An eventual goal is to create more realistic digital characters and objects that can be used in any scene. But techniques based on Debevec’s work have already been used by special-effects companies in numerous feature films, including the Matrix and X-Men series. At his lab in Marina del Rey, CA, Debevec showed TR associate editor Gregory T. Huang how to use light from the real world-and algorithms from the digital one-to render an actor’s face as it would appear under any conditions, anytime.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Communications

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »