A Model of Visual Adaptation for Realistic Image Synthesis

James A. Ferwerda
Sumant Pattanaik
Peter Shirley
Don Greenberg
Cornell University

In this paper we develop a computational model of visual adaptation for realistic image synthesis based on psychophysical experiments. The model captures the changes in threshold visibility, color appearance, visual acuity, and sensitivity over time that are caused by the visual system's adaptation mechanisms. We use the model to display the results of global illumination simulations illuminated at intensities ranging from daylight down to starlight. The resulting images better capture the visual characteristics of scenes viewed over a wide range of illumination levels. Because the model is based on psychophysical data it can be used to predict the visibility and appearance of scene features. This allows the model to be used as the basis of perceptually-based error metrics for limiting the precision of global illumination computations.

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