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Prisms, Masks Recreate Color Images from White Light

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Full-color images can be projected using only two gray scale masks printed on transparencies affixed to a prism.

A team from Disney Research Zurich demonstrated the effect and presented their findings recently at the Pacific Conference on Computer Graphics and Applications in Beijing.


A full-color image (input) can be recreated by a projection system with no color components. Instead it uses two masks (the second of which is pictured) and one or two prisms. The central panel shows the effect of displaying the input image on an LCD for comparison. Courtesy of Rafael Hostettler et al.

The first mask creates a structured pattern of white light that is dispersed by the prism. The resulting colors are then filtered by the second pattern to produce the desired full-color image.

The same effect was achieved with two physical setups, one consisting of two inexpensive triangular prisms and the other using a single rhombic prism. Neither setup used any color components.

"In the future, this technique could allow for projectors and displays with better color fidelity or even displays, which could dynamically trade off light efficiency, color fidelity and resolution," said Wojciech Jarosz, previously a senior research scientist at Disney Research, and now an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.

Jarosz's research is concerned with capturing, simulating, manipulating and physically realizing complex visual appearances. His research has been incorporated into production rendering systems, and has been used in the making of feature films including Disney's "Tangled" and "Big Hero 6."

For more information, visit

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2015
PrismsResearch & TechnologyFiltersAmericasNew HampshireDartmouth CollegeEuropeSwitzerlandDisneyopticsRafael HostettlerWojciech JaroszTech PulseEuro News

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