Things to look out for at Siggraph

Siggraph 2007 is coming up. This used to be my personal deadline for the HDRI Handbook, and it kills me that it still isn't available in stores. Copy-editing and layout are just taking their time - especially since we got 500+ images and screenshots on more than 300 full-color pages. Rest assured that it will be very pretty, just hang in there...

However, I'll not let you head to Siggraph entirely unprepared. Here are some things from last year that might lead to some big announcements. Or maybe not. Who knows. At least this is some very promising stuff:

HDR Hallucination

A demo clip from Microsoft Research shows how to turn a single photograph into an HDR image. It "magically" makes details appear in burnt out areas.... sounds strange, right? Well, better see for yourself:

Especially the light bulb example might look unbelievable. It certainly tipped me off.
No, it's not entirely automatic. They do use a brush to paint in the center detail. Incidentally, there is a 3 page tutorial in my book that shows the very same thing in Photoshop. It's just that the special brushes used in this demo seem to be a lot smarter when it comes to restoring image details...
An interesting read, that might clear up some questions you might have, is also this interview the developer Li-Yi Wei, or if you really want to know read the paper.

Interactive Tone Mapping

Talking about crazy brushes.

In a tech demo from last year they use brush strokes to define regions for exposure adjustments and other manipulations in HDR images. Looks a lot like professional blue-screen keyers ala Primatte, with super-smart masks derived of very crude strokes.
Make sure to check out the video (47 MB DivX).

Looks like Microsoft Research is knitting on some sweet application... the brush strokes sure look ugly, but identical to the ones from the hallucination demo. Is it the same app, and is it called MS Dope? We don't know. But we sure want to see more of that this year!

Panoramic Video

This one is actually from 2003, but still kind of interesting: Interactive Virtual Tours. A movie that is both high-dynamic and panoramic. While the movie is playing, you can turn the camera all around, and have the image auto-exposed for your current field of view. Sounds cool, wonder when this will finally become available in a product? I am so willing to duct tape a camera rig on a motorcycle helmet, if I could just pimp out a movie like that!
Even at the risk of sounding like a Microsoft fan, there is quite a lot of cool stuff coming out of Microsoft's Interactive Visual Media Group. Check them out!

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Update roundup

There is a new version of sIBL-Edit running on Linux now, still considered kind of experimental, but eventually a huge leap towards embedding SmartIBL in a professional production pipeline. If you're running Debian or Kubuuntu, please give it a shot and post a report in the forum - even if it works just fine for you.

The highly anticipated 2.5 update for Photomatix Pro is out, both in Windows and Mac flavor. More stability, more EXIF data getting piped through to the output images, and the tone mapper has more control over the shadows and highlight portions of the image. Free update for registered users, so go grab it!

Also, the popular panorama stitcher PTGui 7.0 has just left beta stage. Lots and lots of new features, notably direct Quicktime VR output, better EXIF data support, and the killer feature is that the Pro version can stitch HDR panos directly from a bunch of exposure bracketing sequences.

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Good Times

Hello, there.

This is a great summer, because my book is coming out. I know you'll like that: All the info on HDRI in one place, right on your shelf. You might be surprised how hard it was to get it up to date, simply because there is new stuff popping up every week. HDRI is just too trendy, and more and more apps start working with it.

But it's more than just a trend. It's not even the first time that HDRI is used as heavy buzzword, up until the point your ears are ringing. There is a real revolution behind. At the end of the tunnel all Digital Imaging will have transitioned over to floating point. It's still a long way to go, but it's heading there, one step at a time.

This newsblog will keep you posted on the what is going on in HDR Imaging.

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