A basis illumination approach to BRDF measurement

Abhijeet Ghosh*, Wolfgang Heidrich, Shruthi Achutha, Matthew O'Toole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Realistic descriptions of surface reflectance have long been a topic of interest in both computer vision and computer graphics research. In this paper, we describe a novel high speed approach for the acquisition of bidirectional reflectance distribution functions (BRDFs). We develop a new theory for directly measuring BRDFs in a basis representation by projecting incident light as a sequence of basis functions from a spherical zone of directions. We derive an orthonormal basis over spherical zones that is ideally suited for this task. BRDF values outside the zonal directions are extrapolated by re-projecting the zonal measurements into a spherical harmonics basis, or by fitting analytical reflection models to the data. For specular materials, we experiment with alternative basis acquisition approaches such as compressive sensing with a random subset of the higher order orthonormal zonal basis functions, as well as measuring the response to basis defined by an analytical model as a way of optically fitting the BRDF to such a representation. We verify this approach with a compact optical setup that requires no moving parts and only a small number of image measurements. Using this approach, a BRDF can be measured in just a few minutes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Vision
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Compressive sensing
  • Computational illumination
  • Object scanning and acquisition
  • Optics
  • Reflectance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Artificial Intelligence


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