How Photography through Image Based Lighting has reassessed notions of Perceptual Realism in CGI


Continuing my research on simulations of reality, this paper will investigate the nature of Image Based Lighting (IBL) in Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). Through photographic High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) I will consider the rendering of synthetic objects into real world environments to create a sense of ‘perceptual realism’ (Prince, 1996). I propose that photography’s ontological claim to truth can help create a physically accurate lighting model and in turn challenge the traditional assumptions about realism in CGI.

Firstly the role of photography shall be examined through the writings of Barthes and Bazin in an attempt to claim the indexcal nature of the medium. A documented progression into digital imaging in cinema will follow, citing the major critics of CGI; Prince and Buckland throughout its development. An analysis of photography in relation to realist aesthetics shall be used to draw upon cinematic references as a way of examining the inherent flaws in digital imaging. This paper will not attempt to define realism in the arts nor investigate its extensive history but instead focus specifically on how the process of lighting CGI (IBL) with photography (HDRI) has contributed to re-evaluating this term. The work of New York based directing company 1st Avenue Machine will be pivotal in analysing how to integrate realistic CGI into real world environments. A first hand interview with founding director Arvind Palep regarding their short ‘Sixes Last’ will act as a central case study and serve as a contemporary paradigm to how environment lighting is used specifically to reflect the real world. (hereafter referred to as “Interview with Palep”)

An insight into the research by Professor Paul Debevec and other practitioners will be used as a framework for understanding the interplay of light between synthetic objects and lighting probes, radiance illumination, and rendering to show why the development of IBL has been so important. Debevec is the pioneer of IBL, bridging traditional CGI with HDRI for over ten years. His research into how the human visual system records light differently to optical technology will be used as a practical exercise to show why HDRI effectively creates a sense of realism for the viewer. By examining the nature of light, Debevec has shown how HDRI are allowing us simulate real world environment lighting in CGI and thus increase a sense of perceptual realism.

Perceptual Realism in CGI


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: