A Study in Gloss

Secondment review by Sina Mehraeen

One’s ideas must be as broad as Nature if they are to interpret Nature
                                                                                     ― Arthur Conan Doyle

Here are the chronicles of my adventures during my secondment at the Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, under the supervision of Prof. Wendy Adams and Prof. Marc Ernst.

The Objectives of the trip:

  1. Gain an understanding of the interaction between illumination and material perception, including analysis of spherical high dynamic range natural illumination environments.
  2. Gain experience of working in a Psychology department in another EU country.

To begin at the beginning, I was excited to work with Wendy and to be exposed to the cool research she does on material perception, illumination environments and rendering virtual objects.  I had also never been to the UK, and was eager to get a glimpse of that part of the world.

The plan was twofold; first, I would conduct a pilot study on the interaction between illumination and gloss and how gloss might affect the way we manipulate a physical object. At the same time, I would try to learn as much as possible on rendering virtual objects in natural illumination environments and learn the statistics involved.

Sample HDR illumination environment sourced from the Southampton-York Natural Scenes (SYNS) Dataset. The SYNS dataset is a collection of high definition images (and their relevant metadata) from around 100 rural and urban locations.

After a short trip to a metal supermarket, we got some nice aluminum box pipes which we would use as our physical stimuli. The main question we were seeking to address with these physical objects is whether their glossiness affects the way people handle them. This is in line with previous studies looking at the relationship between gloss and touch (Kerrigan, Adams, & Graf, 2010 ; Adams, Kerrigan & Graf, 2016).

Aluminum box pipe

Once the objects were cleaned and nicely polished, we started testing out a suitable experimental setup. This proved more challenging than expected due to the unpredictable nature of natural lighting. In order to get the desired outcome, we really had to control the angle and intensity of illumination so using natural lighting was out of the question. We also tested various coatings to get the objects to be as glossy as possible. Currently, we have made some tweaks to the set up and we are in the process of data collection; so more info coming soon.

On the side and as a secondary objective, I began learning the basics of Blender to generate virtual objects and to import them as .obj files into Octane Render. Octane is fast rendering engine which allows for easy manipulation of minute elements which make up a scene, e.g. material qualities an object might possess and how those certain qualities (e.g. surface reflectance) interact with light. Once we had set those parameters, we placed them in a natural illumination environment and got something that looked like this:

A virtual object placed in a natural illumination environment

To conclude, I’d like to thank Wendy, Marc and Erich for their continuous support during my stay and also Davide and Paul for helping me with the setup. I’d also like to say a big thanks to everyone I had the good fortune of meeting at the Department of Psychology in Soton; for showing me around town and volunteering to participate in the experiment. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon.


Secondment at the Science and Media Museum

Secondment at the Science and Media Museum

By Ellen De Korte

It has been four weeks since I started my museum secondment at the National Science and Media Museum and there are three more weeks to go until the Bradford Science Festival. I am busy preparing all text and materials for my study. However, the most exciting bit is that I am now testing objects that I have collected from charity shops and colleagues. This resulted in interesting responses. Also, the visitors are happy to try the task that is part of my activity. The next stage is to get everything ready, test the entire activity and pilot data collection.

How do I feel about public engagement? I found that it is one thing to learn to do science and an entirely different thing to communicate about it. Explainers in the museum seem to do it with ease. However, when I tried to do it myself, I found that it is a lot harder than it looks. For example, you have to learn how to get people interested in what you are doing. Moreover, you need to constantly switch gears, because you encounter people from different backgrounds.

Nevertheless, if you manage to draw people in and interact with them, it is a rewarding experience. People are willing to listen and take a little piece of information with them. Also, the skills you learn when doing science communication can be transferred to communicating your work to a specialist audience. Communication to a non-specialist audience teaches you how to quickly pitch and sell your work in simple wording. The pitching and selling skills are very useful for presentations, for example at a conference, too, because this also requires you to shortly pitch your work to people passing by.

All in all, my museum secondment is an entirely different experience. However, it is also an interesting challenge, from which I will have learnt a lot at the end.

ECVP 2019 ESR Abstracts

ECVP 2019 ESR Abstracts

The ECVP have now released the full abstracts of the attendees to the conference in Leuven. Below you will find the abstracts submitted by DyViTo ESRs. To see the full abstract book, including the abstracts that involve DyViTo Supervisors and friends of the project, please use this link.

Scale ambiguities in material recognition
Jacob R. Cheeseman*, Filipp Schmidt, Roland W. Fleming
Justus Liebig University Giessen

As a rule, observers can reliably identify the material properties of surfaces. Here, we investigated exceptions to this rule using a set of 87 photographs of materials (e.g., water, sand, stone, metal, wood) that appear to belong to different material classes depending on their apparent distance from the viewer. In three experiments, participants viewed each image and provided a categorical judgement of the depicted material, and a quantitative estimate of the distance between the camera and surface. Experiment 1 manipulated interpretations of these images by instructing two groups of participants to imagine a small or large distance between the camera and surface, while a third control group received no such instruction. In Experiments 2 and 3 interpretations were manipulated by providing visual cues for scale (e.g., objects of familiar size), which were presented alongside the target image or digitally inserted into the image. Results indicate that these manipulations can cause identical images to appear to belong to different material classes (e.g., water vs. marble), and that susceptibility to context information (i.e., material ambiguity) correlates with higher variability in distance estimates. Under challenging conditions, therefore, the recognition of some materials is vulnerable to simple manipulations of apparent scale.

Colour Variations within Light Fields: Interreflections and Colour Effects
Cehao Yu* (1), Elmar Eisemann (2), Sylvia Pont (1)
1: Perceptual Intelligence lab, TUDelft; 2: Computer Graphics and Visualization Group, TUDelft

The human visual system incorporates knowledge about local chromatic and lightness effects of interreflections (Bloj et al., Nature, 1999). Here we study basic principles behind chromatic effects of interreflections using computational modelling and photometric measurements. The colour of interreflections varies as a function of the number of bounces they went through. Using a computational model we found that those colour variations can show brightness, saturation and even hue shifts. Using a chromatic Mach Card, a concave folded card with both sides made of the same colour, we demonstrated those three types of colour effects empirically. Finally, we tested the effects of such coloured interreflections on light fields in 3D spaces. Via cubic spectral illuminance measurements in both computer simulations and full mock up room settings under different furnishing scenarios we measure the chromatic variations of first order properties of light fields. The types of chromatic variations were found to depend systematically on furnishing colour, lighting and geometry, as predicted, and also vary systematically within the light field, and thus throughout the space. We will next compare the physical light fields with visual light fields (including chromatic properties) and test perceived material colours, for (combinations of) the three types of effects.

Visual and haptic softness dimensions
Müge Cavdan* (1), Knut Drewing (1), Katja Doerschner (1,2,3)
1: Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany; 2: Department of Psychology, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey; 3: National Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

When investigating visually or haptically perceived softness of materials researchers have typically equated softness with compliance. However, softness entails more aspects than this single dimension: a rabbit’s fur is soft in a different way than sand on Siesta beach and both’s softness is not necessarily related to the materials’ compliance. Here we investigated the dimensionality of perceived softness in visual and haptic domains. We asked participants to rate various materials on different adjectives. In the haptic experiment, participants were blindfolded and rated materials after haptically exploring them, whereas in the visual experiment they made the same ratings while looking at close up images of the same materials used in the haptic experiment. Principal component analyses revealed that both haptic and visual perception of softness are similarly organized in perceptual space, both containing dimensions of granularity, visco-elasticity, and deformability. However, furriness existed only in the haptic experiment. Moreover, the explained variance was higher in the haptic experiment, which suggests that the perceived dimensions of softness might be more accessible through haptic exploration than by looking at images of materials. Overall, these results contribute to our understanding of how visual and haptic information about material properties are processed and integrated.

Recognising materials over time
Ellen E M De Korte* (1), Andrew J Logan (2), Marina Bloj (1)
1: School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Bradford, United Kingdom; 2:Department of Vision Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom

Materials change over time; colours fade and surfaces are scratched. These changes alter the retinal input and yet we still recognise them as the same material. When textiles are washed and laid out to dry we still identify them as the same fabric even though their colour visibly changes. The present study evaluated the appropriateness of an existing calibrated photograph set as a stimulus for studying the perception of appearance changes of materials over time. Participants (N = 4) reported which of the 2 pairs of images shown displayed the largest perceptual difference. Images were blocked (210 trials per block and participant) by material (Banana, Copper, Granite, Quilted Paper). Individual observers’ perceptual scales, estimated with Maximum Likelihood Difference Scaling via the General Linear Model estimation method, for each material were similar and showed that some, but not all, photographs were perceptually distinct. Thus, the calibrated photographs seem suitable for our purposes. Next steps will include image-based manipulations to establish which parameters drive the development of perceptual scales. Specifically, this will involve converting images to grayscale and manipulate image marks, such as brown staining in Banana images, in order to test the effects of colour and characteristic marks, respectively.

ECVP 2019 – European Conference on Visual Perception

ECVP 2019 – European Conference on Visual Perception

This year the ECVP will be welcoming DyViTo ESRs to present their findings. There will be oral presentations, posters and a chance to network with peers from different disciplines.

The European Conference on Visual Perception is an annual event, centring on the field of human visual perception. This includes disciplines like Psychology, Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences. With a strong emphasis on student and young researcher participation the conference, which has been held each year since 1978, happens in a different European location every year.

This year our DyViTo researchers will be joining the conference hosted by KU Leuven.

KU Leuven. Photo credit: https://www.kuleuven.be

KU Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is a research university with a strong tradition in perception, dating back to Armand Thiéry (who started the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology in 1892, after obtaining his PhD with Wundt in Leipzig) and Albert Michotte (1881-1965), whose pioneering work on the perception of causality is still highly influential. In the present day, perception and vision-related research is conducted in many disciplines (including psychology, neurosciences, biology, computer vision, computer graphics, light and light technology and sports and rehabilitation), addressing fundamental questions as well as applications.  This broad range will be reflected in the scientific program (12 symposia, talks and poster presentations). In addition, there will be a tutorial program for young researchers, two excellent keynotes, a demo night, and a historical exhibition. The social program includes an opening reception, a conference dinner and a conference party.