The Importance of Light Field Imaging

Posted on: May 17, 2016 by Nettel Media Inc.

Category: General

The Importance of Light Field Imaging

Lytro™, the company founded in 2006 by Executive Chairman Ren Ng, is already redefining the creative path for artists and scientists with its revolutionary technology: Light Field imaging.


In simple terms, Light Field imaging technology allows to capture the rays of light within a scene, as well as their colour, brightness and their angular path or exact placement in space. It is the equivalent of capturing images with pixels in 3D.


But why is this new development so important for those artists and scientists working with images? The main reason is that the technology allows control over focus, perspective, aperture and shutter angle beyond what a camera would normally provide, therefore being able to create unimaginable images. And this applies to photography, cinematography, virtual reality, scientific and industrial applications.


In the case of Lytro Cinema, the camera created by the company, every frame in a movie becomes a 3D environment that can be manipulated. Every object and space in the image can be “keyed” or erased. This provides filmmakers the opportunity to apply visual effects as never before, being able to recreate any part of the environment within a movie and replace it with new elements that look as real as the original environment.


But beyond the action blockbuster movies, this ability to capture a 3D environment and replace or recreate any part of it will have benefits for industrial and scientific purposes. For example, astronomers might be able to analyze a phenomenon in space in a 3D environment probably getting a better understanding of it; city planners might be able to better visualize changes to any infrastructure project, etc. And the implications for training are obvious.


But like with any new technology, there could potentially be undesired uses. One thing to start questioning is, how will it be used once it evolves and reaches consumers? And most importantly, will the ability to make any space look as real as the original environment be used in non-ethical ways? Let’s say, will a company be able to recreate images of the sea in an area where there has been an oil spill and present it as clean? Will a repressive government recording a protest be able to change the signs carried by protestors and make it appear as if they said something that was not real?


At this point in time, except for still photography, the technology is by no means accessible to average consumers. It is even costly for big Hollywood studios. Should it ever reach the average consumer, it will be important to ensure that the technology allows tracing back to an unaltered original image and that creativity is applied for all the right purposes and not misused. In the meantime, the possibilities are exciting and film will once again, never be the same.


(Lytro is a trademark of Lytro, Inc., registered in multiple countries).

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