computational thinking, carnegie mellon
Sponsored by
microsoft research
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  Seminar series organized by Roger Dannenberg  
Marc Levoy
Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Stanford University
Light Field Photography and Microscopy Video
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, NSH 3305, 2:30 pm

Please contact Jennifer Turken, 412-268-7414, jturken, to schedule meetings.


Light field photography is a technique for recording light intensity as a function of position and direction in a 3D scene. Unlike conventional photographs, light fields permit manipulation of viewpoint and focus after the imagery has been recorded. At Stanford we have built a number of devices for capturing light fields, including (1) an array of 128 synchronized video cameras, (2) a handheld camera in which a microlens array has been inserted between the main lens and sensor plane, and (3) a microscope in which a similar microlens array has been inserted at the intermediate image plane.

The third device permits us to capture light fields of microscopic biological (or industrial) objects in a single snapshot. Although diffraction limits the product of spatial and angular resolution in these light fields, we can nevertheless produce useful perspective flyarounds and 3D focal stacks from them. Since microscopes are inherently orthographic devices, perspective flyarounds represent a new way to look at microscopic specimens. Focal stacks are not new, but manual techniques for capturing them are time-consuming and hence not applicable to moving or light-sensitive specimens. Applying 3D deconvolution to these focal stacks, we can produce a set of cross sections, which can be visualized using volume rendering. Ours is the first technology (of which we are aware) that can produce volumetric models from a single photograph.

In this talk, I will describe a prototype light field microscope and show perspective views, focal stacks, and reconstructed volumes for a variety of biological specimens. I will also survey some promising directions for this technology. For example, by introducing a second microlens array and a video projector, we can control the light field arriving at a specimen as well as the light field leaving it. Potential applications of this idea include microscope scatterometry - measuring reflectance as a function of incident and reflected angle, and "designer illumination" - illuminating one part of a microscopic object while avoiding illuminating another.


Marc Levoy is a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He received degrees in Architecture from Cornell University in 1976 and 1978 and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina in 1989. His research interests include computer-assisted cartoon animation, volume rendering (for which he won the SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 1996), 3D scanning, light field sensing and display, computational photography, and computational microscopy. Other awards: Cornell University Charles Goodwin Sands thesis medal (1976), National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator (1991), ACM Fellow (2007).