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15-463 (15-862): Computational Photography
Computer Science Department
Carnegie Mellon University

INSTRUCTOR: Alexei (Alyosha) Efros (Office hours: Tu 5-6pm, NSH 4207)
TA: Santosh Kumar Divvala (Office hours: Wed 3-4:30pm, EDSH 200)
SEMESTER: Fall 2008
NEWSGROUP: http://flickr.com/groups/15-463/ (need to join Flickr)
WEB PAGE: http://graphics.cs.cmu.edu/courses/15-463/
TIME: T R 12:00--1:20 PM

Computational Photography is an emerging new field created by the convergence of computer graphics, computer vision and photography. Its role is to overcome the limitations of the traditional camera by using computational techniques to produce a richer, more vivid, perhaps more perceptually meaningful representation of our visual world.

The aim of this advanced undergraduate course is to study ways in which samples from the real world (images and video) can be used to generate compelling computer graphics imagery. We will learn how to acquire, represent, and render scenes from digitized photographs. Several popular image-based algorithms will be presented, with an emphasis on using these techniques to build practical systems. This hands-on emphasis will be reflected in the programming assignments, in which students will have the opportunity to acquire their own images of indoor and outdoor scenes and develop the image analysis and synthesis tools needed to render and view the scenes on the computer.


  • Cameras, Image Formation
  • Visual Perception
  • Image and Video Processing (filtering, anti-aliasing, pyramids)
  • Image Manipulation (warping, morphing, mosaicing, matting, compositing)
  • Modeling and Synthesis using Lots of Data
  • High Dynamic Range Imaging and Tone Mapping
  • Image-Based Lighting
  • Image-Based Rendering
  • Non-photorealistic Rendering

Programming experience and familiarity with linear algebra and calculus is assumed. Some background in computer graphics, computer vision, or image processing is helpful. This class does not significantly overlap with 15-462 and can be taken concurrently.
Graduate Students: a small number of graduate students will be allowed to take the graduate version of this course (15-862) with the permission of the instructor. Students taking 15-862 will be required to do more substantial assignments as well as a research-level final paper.
Note: if the system doesn’t let you sign up, or puts you on the waitlist, do talk to me.


 Project 0: The Vertigo Shot
vertigo movie frame 1vertigo movie frame 2

See results

Class Choice Award: Frank Palermo

  Project 1: Images of the Russian Empire -- colorizing the Prokudin-Gorskii photo collection

See results

Class Choice Award: Frank Palermo

  Project 2: Image Resizing by Seam Carving

See results
Class Choice Award: Varun Ramakrishna

Project 3: Face morphing and modeling:

See results
Class Choice Award: Zuye Zheng
Class Morphing Movie

  Project 4: Stitching Photo Mosaics (including autostitching)

See results
Class Choice Award: Danielle Millett

 Project 5: Single-View Reconstruction(Tour into the Picture):

See results

Final Projects!


Fun with Frames

Time-Lapse Relighting of a Scene

Compositing Historical Urban Landscapes

The Oracle (short film)

Augmenting Reality with Reality

Augmented Reality

Tour into the Picture with Head Tracking

Scene Edge Classification from Image Sequences

Painting without Paint

Music Synchronization and Embryonic Morphing (a.k.a. Chicks ABBA)

Automatic Colorization

Panoramic Video

Detecting Image Transformations

Interactive Sprite Extractor GUI


Since Computational Photography is such a new discipline, no comprehensive textbook exists for use in the class. Therefore, there is no required text. Various course notes and papers will be made available. Furthermore, there is an optional textbook that you might find helpful. It will be placed on reserve at the Wean Hall library:

Computer Vision: The Modern Approach, Forsyth and Ponce

There is a number of other fine texts that you can use for general reference:

Photography (8th edition), London and Upton, (a great general guide to taking pictures)
Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology, Stephen Palmer (great book on human visual perception)
Digital Image Processing, 2nd edition, Gonzalez and Woods (a good general image processing text)
The Art and Science of Digital Compositing, Ron Brinkmann (everything about compositing)
Multiple View Geometry in Computer Vision, Hartley & Zisserman (a bible on recovering 3D geometry) [on reserve]
The Computer Image, Watt and Policarpo (a nice “vision for graphics” text, somewhat dated)
3D Computer Graphics (3rd Edition), Watt (a good general graphics text)
Fundamentals of Computer Graphics, Peter Shirley (another good general graphics text)
Linear Algebra and its Applications, Gilbert Strang (a truly wonderful book on linear algebra)

The instructor is extremely grateful to a large number of researchers for making their slides available for use in this course. Steve Seitz and Rick Szeliski have been particularly kind in letting me use their wonderful lecture notes. In addition, I would like to thank Paul Debevec, Stephen Palmer, Paul Heckbert, David Forsyth, Steve Marschner and others, as noted in the slides. The instructor gladly gives permission to use and modify any of the slides for academic and research purposes. However, please do also acknowledge the original sources where appropriate.





Tu Aug 26


Th Aug 28

The Camera

  • Slides (ppt, pdf)
  • Forsyth & Ponce, Ch 1

Tu Sept 2

Capturing Light… in man and machine

  • Slides (ppt, pdf)
  • Forsyth & Ponce, Ch 6


Th Sept 4

Sampling and Reconstruction


Tu Sept 9

The Frequency Domain

Th Sept 11

Continue with Frequency Domain

Project #2 OUT

Tu Sept 16

Image Blending and Compositing

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Additional Reading:
Burt and Adelson, A multiresolution spline with application to image mosaics, ACM ToG (1983)
Agarwala et al, Interactive Digital Photomontage, SIGGRAPH 2004

Th Sept 18

Point Processing

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Fri Sept 19

Relevant Talk: Jim McCann, Gradient Image Editing, 5409 Wean Hall, Noon


Tu Sept 23


Image Warping

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Th Sept 25

Image Morphing

Slides (ppt, pdf)
Project #3 OUT

Tu Sept 30

Data-driven Methods: Faces

Slides (ppt, pdf)
Rowland and Ferrett, “Manipulating Facial Appearance through Shape and Color”, CG&A, 1995

Additional Reading:

  1. Blanz and Vetter, “A Morphable Model for the Synthesis of 3D Faces”, SIGGRAPH 1999
  2. Cootes, Edwards, and Taylor, “Active Appearance Models”,  ECCV 1998


Th Oct 2

Data-driven Methods: Video and Texture





Tu Oct 7

Data-driven Methods: Features, Histograms, and Image Comparisons


Th Oct 9

Data-driven Methods: Lots of Images (by James Hays) + midterm review (by Santosh)

Reading: Hays & Efros, Scene Completion Using Millions of Photographs

Additional Reading:
1. im2gps
Creating and Exploring a Large Photorealistic Virtual Space


Tu Oct 14

Midterm Exam


Th Oct 16

No class (ECCV)


Tu Oct 21

Data-Driven Methods: guest lecture by Jean-Francois Lalonde


Tu Oct 23

Modeling Light

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Th Oct 28

Homographies and Mosaics



Tu Oct 30

More Mosaic Madness

       Slides (ppt, pdf)

       Additional Reading: Rick Szeliski, Image Alignment and Stitching, A Tutorial (DRAFT)

Tu Nov 4

Automatic Alignment

Th Nov 6

Multi-perspective Panoramas


Tu Nov 11

Single View Reconstruction

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Reading: Horry et al, “Tour into the Picture”, SIGGRAPH ‘97


Th Nov 13

More Single View Geometry

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Additional Reading: Single-view Reconstruction

Project #5 OUT

Tu Nov 18


Slides (ppt, pdf)

Th Nov 20

High Dynamic Range Images

Slides (ppt, pdf)

Reading: Debevec & Malik, “Recovering High Dynamic Range Radiance Maps from Photographs”, SIGGRAPH 1997

Tu Nov 28

Image-based Lighting

Slides (ppt, pdf)
Reading: Debevec, Rendering Synthetic Objects in Real Scenes, 1998

Tu Dec 4

Image-based Lighting II

Slides (ppt, pdf)
Reading: Debevec, Virtual Cinematography: Relighting Through Computation, IEEE Computer Aug 2006

Th Dec 6

What makes a Great Picture? + Wrap-up

Slides (ppt, pdf)
Reading: Y. Ke, X. Tang, and F. Jing. The Design of High-Level Features for Photo Quality Assessment.  CVPR 2006.

Although it is not required, students are highly encouraged to obtain a digital camera for use in the course (one can get a pretty good camera for under $150). A camera might be available on load from the instructor.

Grading will be based on a set of programming and written assignments (60%), an exam (20%) and a final project (20%). For the programming assignments, students will be allowed a total of 5 (five) late days per semester; each additional late day will incur a 10% penalty.

Students taking 15-862 will also be required to submit a conference-style paper describing their final project.

All students will have access to the graphics cluster in Wean Hall 5336. You will need to setup your Andrew account in the right way before you can login.

Students will be encouraged to use Matlab (with the Image Processing Toolkit) as their primary computing platform. Besides being a great prototyping environment, Matlab is particularly well-suited for working with image data and offers tons of build-in image processing functions. Here is a link to some useful Matlab resources

Previous offerings of this course can be found here.



Page design courtesy of Doug James