A Different Way of Seeing Things
If you’ve used a cellphone to take a digital photo,
watched a cartoon or looked at an online map photo of a
street, chances are you’ve seen something Marc Levoy ’ 89
(PhD) has worked on along the way.
And chances are that he’s working on something that will
make the current model obsolete. That’s the way it is in his
ever-evolving high-tech world, even though he got his start
when things weren’t quite so technologically advanced as
today, such as in architecture school at Cornell University.
“The very first assignment we had was to draw a cube
with all these holes in it and show pieces
that had been taken out and put
in,” Levoy recalls. “It was a
very laborious first
assignment. My professor told me to take out
my T-square, but I
thought, ‘Maybe a computer?’ So I took out a
Fortran coding sheet
instead.” Levoy laughs, since
today that version of the programming language is about as
outmoded as the slide rule and T-square.
Another professor showed him a magazine article about
computer graphics, and that set his path to the future. He
spent the next 10 years working on the algorithms that
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MARC LEVOY ’ 89
Marc Levoy ’ 89 (PhD) and graduate student Andrew
Adams show the Frankencamera, which allows for focusing and other refinements after a photo is taken. The
Lytro, left, is a consumer camera version.
created the movement for animation at Hanna-Barbera
Productions, including Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones.
His ability to connect the intricacies inside the mathematical world of algorithms to the everyday world of
graphics, cellphone photographs and animation led UNC to
choose Levoy, the VMware Founders Professor of Computer
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