Marc Levoy

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Marc Levoy
Born (1953-11-02) November 2, 1953 (age 70)
Alma materCornell University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Known forVolume rendering
Light fields
3D scanning
Stanford Bunny
Computational photography
AwardsSIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award (1996), ACM Fellow (2007), National Academy of Engineering (2022)
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Graphics, Computer Vision
InstitutionsStanford University
Google, Adobe Inc.

Marc Levoy is a computer graphics researcher and Professor Emeritus of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, a vice president and Fellow at Adobe Inc., and (until 2020) a Distinguished Engineer at Google. He is noted for pioneering work in volume rendering, light fields, and computational photography.

Education and early career[edit]

Levoy first studied computer graphics as an architecture student under Donald P. Greenberg at Cornell University. He received his B.Arch. in 1976 and M.S. in architecture in 1978. He developed a 2D computer animation system as part of his studies, receiving the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Medal for this work. Greenberg and he suggested to Disney that they use computer graphics in producing animated films, but the idea was rejected by several of the Nine Old Men who were still active. Following this, they were able to convince Hanna-Barbera Productions to use their system for television animation. Despite initial opposition by animators, the system was successful in reducing labor costs and helping to save the company, and was used until 1996.[1] Levoy worked as director of the Hanna-Barbera Animation Laboratory from 1980 to 1983.

He then did graduate study in computer science under Henry Fuchs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received his Ph.D. in 1989. While there, he published several important papers in the field of volume rendering, developing new algorithms (such as volume ray tracing), improving efficiency, and demonstrating applications of the technique.[2]

Teaching career[edit]

He joined the faculty of Stanford's Computer Science Department in 1990. In 1991, he received the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award. In 1994, he co-created the Stanford Bunny, which has become an icon of computer graphics. In 1996, he and Pat Hanrahan coauthored the paper, "Light Field Rendering," which forms the basis behind many image-based rendering techniques in modern-day computer graphics. His lab also worked on applications of light fields, developing technologies such as a light-field camera and light-field microscope, and on computational photography. (The phrase "computational photography" was first used by Steve Mann in 1995.[citation needed] It was re-coined and given a broader meaning by Levoy for a course he taught at Stanford in 2004[3] and a symposium he co-organized in 2005.[4])


Levoy took a leave of absence from Stanford in 2011 to work at GoogleX as part of Project Glass. In 2014, he retired from Stanford to become full-time at Google, where until 2020 he led a team in Google Research[5] that worked broadly on cameras and photography. One of his projects was HDR+ mode[6] for Google Pixel smartphones.[7] In 2016, the French agency DxO gave the Pixel the highest rating ever given to a smartphone camera,[8] and again in 2017 for the Pixel 2.[9] His team also developed Portrait Mode, a single-camera background defocus technology launched in October 2017 on Pixel 2,[10] and Night Sight, a technology for taking handheld pictures without flash in very low light launched in November 2018 on all generations of Pixel phones.[11] Finally, his team worked on underlying technologies for Project Jump,[12] a light field camera that captures stereo panoramic videos for VR headsets.[13] Although Levoy no longer teaches at Stanford, a course he taught on digital photography[14] that was rerecorded at Google in 2016 is available online for free.[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

For his work in volume rendering, Levoy was the recipient of the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award in 1996.[2] In 2007, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery "for contributions to computer graphics".[16] In 2022 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering "for contributions to computer graphics and digital photography".[17]

Notable publications[edit]

  • Marc Levoy (May 1988). "Display of Surfaces from Volume Data". IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. 8 (3).
  • Philippe Lacroute & Marc Levoy. "Fast Volume Rendering Using a Shear-Warp Factorization of the Viewing Transformation". Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 1994.
  • Brian Curless & Marc Levoy. "A Volumetric Method for Building Complex Models from Range Images". Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 1996.
  • Marc Levoy & Pat Hanrahan. "Light Field Rendering". Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 1996.
  • Marc Levoy; Kari Pulli; Brian Curless; Szymon Rusinkiewicz; David Koller; Lucas Pereira; Matt Ginzton; Sean Anderson; James Davis; Jeremy Ginsberg; Jonathan Shade & Duane Fulk. "The Digital Michelangelo Project: 3D scanning of large statues". Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 2000.
  • Marc Levoy; Ren Ng; Andrew Adams; Matthew Footer; Mark Horowitz. "Light Field Microscopy". Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 2006.
  • Andrew Adams; Eino-Ville (Eddy) Talvala; Sung Hee Park; David E. Jacobs; Boris Ajdin; Natasha Gelfand; Jennifer Dolson; Daniel Vaquero; Jongmin Baek; Marius Tico; Henrik P.A. Lensch; Wojciech Matusik; Kari Pulli; Mark Horowitz & Marc Levoy. "The Frankencamera: An Experimental Platform for Computational Photography" (PDF). Communications of the ACM. doi:10.1145/2366316.2366339. S2CID 10154698. (November 2012)
  • Samuel W. Hasinoff; Dillon Sharlet; Ryan Geiss; Andrew Adams; Jonathan T. Barron; Florian Kainz; Jiawen Chen & Marc Levoy. "Burst photography for high dynamic range and low-light imaging on mobile cameras" (PDF). Proceedings of SIGGRAPH Asia 2016. (paper on HDR+)
  • Jonathan Ragan-Kelley; Andrew Adams; Connelly Barnes; Dillon Sharlet; Sylvain Paris; Marc Levoy; Saman Amarasinghe & Fredo Durand. "Halide: decoupling algorithms from schedules for high performance image processing" (PDF). Communications of the ACM. doi:10.1145/3150211. (January, 2018)
  • Neal Wadhwa, Rahul Garg, David E. Jacobs, Bryan E. Feldman, Nori Kanazawa, Robert Carroll, Yair Movshovitz-Attias, Jonathan T. Barron, Yael Pritch, Marc Levoy, "Synthetic Depth-of-Field with a Single-Camera Mobile Phone" (PDF), Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 2018. (paper on Portrait Mode)
  • Orly Liba, Kiran Murthy, Yun-Ta Tsai, Tim Brooks, Tianfan Xue, Nikhil Karnad, Qiurui He, Jonathan T. Barron, Dillon Sharlet, Ryan Geiss, Samuel W. Hasinoff, Yael Pritch, Marc Levoy, "Handheld Mobile Photography in Very Low Light " (PDF), Proceedings of SIGGRAPH Asia 2019. (paper on Night Sight)


  1. ^ "1976 Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Medal".
  2. ^ a b "1996 SIGGRAPH Achievement Award".
  3. ^ "Stanford University — CS 448 (2004)".
  4. ^ "2005 Symposium on Computational Photography and Video".
  5. ^ "Google Research".
  6. ^ "HDR+: Low Light and High Dynamic Range photography in the Google Camera App". Google Research Blog. 2014.
  7. ^ "HDR+". 18 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Pixel smartphone camera review: At the top". DxOMark. 2016.
  9. ^ "Google Pixel 2 reviewed: Sets new record for overall smartphone camera quality". DxOMark. 2017.
  10. ^ Marc Levoy & Yael Pritch (October 17, 2017). "Portrait mode on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones".
  11. ^ Marc Levoy & Yael Pritch (November 14, 2018). "Night Sight: Seeing in the Dark on Pixel Phones". Google AI Blog.
  12. ^ "Google — Jump".
  13. ^ Robert Anderson; David Gallup; Jonathan T. Barron; Janne Kontkanen; Noah Snavely; Carlos Hernandez Esteban; Sameer Agarwala; Steven M. Seitz (2016). "Jump: Virtual Reality Video". Proc. SIGGRAPH Asia (PDF). ACM.
  14. ^ "Stanford University — CS 178 (2014)".
  15. ^ Marc Levoy (2016). "Lectures on Digital Photography".
  16. ^ "Marc Levoy – ACM Fellows (2007)". Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  17. ^ "Marc Levoy - Member, National Academy of Engineering (2022)". Retrieved 2022-04-05.

External links[edit]