Portal: Terminal Velocity

Here’s a great example of do-it-yourself visual effects involving matchmoving, seamless image compositing, and matting, by Jason Craft:

The Paramount Picture

This picture, created by Art Streiber for Vanity Fair, celebrates the 100th anniversary of Paramount Pictures (click for big version).

This is a great example of photomontage, the kind of effect discussed in this Siggraph 2004 paper by Agarwala et al. and in Section 3.3 of my book. There’s no way you’d get 116 people (much less high-power movie stars) spread out across a 60-foot-wide stage all facing forward and smiling at the same time. Instead, I’m pretty sure that the final result is composed of tens of pieces of photos, seamlessly merged together. (In fact, there’s no reason everyone had to be there at the same time, and they probably weren’t.)

You can make similar results yourself using the free code by Agarwala et al. at the above link.


Modern blockbuster movies seamlessly introduce impossible characters and action into real-world settings using digital visual effects. These effects are made possible by research from the field of computer vision, the study of how to automatically understand images. Computer Vision for Visual Effects will educate students, engineers, and researchers about the fundamental computer vision principles and state-of-the-art algorithms used to create cutting-edge visual effects for movies and television.

The book describes classical computer vision algorithms used on a regular basis in Hollywood (such as blue-screen matting, structure from motion, optical flow, and feature tracking) and exciting recent developments that form the basis for future effects (such as natural image matting, multi-image compositing, image retargeting, and view synthesis). It also discusses the technologies behind motion capture and three-dimensional data acquisition. More than 200 original images demonstrating principles, algorithms, and results, along with in-depth interviews with Hollywood visual effects artists, tie the mathematical concepts to real-world filmmaking.

Computer Vision for Visual Effects will be published by Cambridge University Press in Fall 2012.  Watch this space for more details, blog posts on new visual effects algorithms, and cool demo reels!