Thursday, September 14, 2006
4:15 pm
B17 Upson Hall

Computer Science
Fall 2006

Kavita Bala
Cornell University

Scalable realistic rendering of complex scenes

A fundamental challenge in computer graphics is realistically simulating the appearance of complex natural scenes, to create virtual environments that accurately represent the real world. Such virtual environments are vital for a wide variety of applications such as engineering design, games and movies, architectural planning, search-and-rescue and surgical training, e-commerce, and cultural heritage and preservation. For example, archaeologists want to reconstruct the original appearance of the Kalabsha temple in Egypt by modeling and interactively simulating how light interacts with its detailed stone sculptures and architecture. It is currently too expensive to accurately simulate the interaction of light with such complex scenes. Conventional rendering methods use ad-hoc approximations that are not only visibly inaccurate but remain orders of magnitude too slow for interactive use.

In this talk I will present my group's research on scalable, perceptually-based rendering and modeling for complex scenes. The key insight is not to simulate what the human eye cannot perceive. Exploiting perception makes these algorithms scalable: computational cost remains low as scene complexity increases, unlike with conventional rendering. I will describe our research on lightcuts for multiscale illumination, cinematic relighting, and detail synthesis for image-based texturing. Scalable, realistic rendering opens the door to virtual environments that are more accurate and more interactive than has been previously possible.

Joint work with Adam Arbree, Don Greenberg, Milos Hasan, Fabio Pellacini, Ganesh Ramanarayanan, and Bruce Walter.

Bio: Kavita Bala is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department and Program of Computer Graphics at Cornell University. She specializes in interactive computer graphics, leading several research projects in scalable rendering, interactive global illumination, feature-based graphics, and image-based modeling and texturing. Bala has received the Cornell College of Engineering James and Mary Tien Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Affinito-Stewart award. She has co-authored the graduate-level textbook "Advanced Global Illumination" (A K Peters publisher, currently in its second edition). In 2005, Bala co-chaired the Eurographics Symposium on Rendering (EGSR). Bala received her B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, Bombay), and her S.M. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).