STAR: Tone Reproduction and Physically Based Spectral Rendering

Kate Devlin, Alan Chalmers, Alexander Wilkie, Werner Purgathofer, STAR: Tone Reproduction and Physically Based Spectral Rendering. State of the Art Reports, Eurographics 2002. Dieter Fellner, Roberto Scopignio, (eds.), pp. 101–123. September 2002. PDF, 476 Kbytes.


The ultimate aim of realistic graphics is the creation of images that provoke the same responses that a viewer would have to a real scene. This STAR addresses two related key problem areas in this effort which are located at opposite ends of the rendering pipeline, namely the data structures used to describe light during the actual rendering process, and the issue of displaying such radiant intensities in a meaningful way. The interest in the first of these subproblems stems from the fact that it is common industry practice to use RGB colour values to describe light intensity and surface reflectancy. While viable in the context of methods that do not strive to achieve true realism, this approach has to be replaced by more physically accurate techniques if a prediction of nature is intended. The second subproblem is that while research into ways of rendering images provides us with better and faster methods, we do not necessarily see their full effect due to limitations of the used display hardware. The low dynamic range of a standard computer monitor requires some form of mapping to produce images that are perceptually accurate. Tone reproduction operators attempt to replicate the effect of real-world luminance intensities. This STAR report will review the work to date on spectral rendering and tone reproduction techniques. It will include an investigation into the need for spectral image synthesis methods, accurate tone reproduction, their basis in art, television and photography, a discussion of major approaches to physically correct rendering and key tone mapping algorithms, and the future of both spectral rendering and tone reproduction techniques together with the implications of advances in display hardware.

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