A method for estimating the Camera Response Function (CRF) of an electronic motion picture camera is presented in this work. The accurate estimation of the CRF allows for proper encoding of camera exposures into motion picture post-production workflows, like the Academy Color Encoding Specification (ACES), this being a necessary step to correctly combine images from different capture sources into one cohesive final production and minimize non-creative manual adjustments.

Although there are well known standard CRFs implemented in typical video camera workflows, motion picture workflows and newer High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging workflows have introduced new standard CRFs as well as custom and proprietary CRFs that need to be known for proper post-production encoding of the camera footage. Current methods to estimate this function rely on the use of measurement charts, using multiple static images taken under different exposures or lighting conditions, or assume a simplistic model of the function’s shape. All these methods become problematic and tough to fit into motion picture production and post-production workflows where the use of test charts and varying camera or scene setups becomes impractical and where a method based solely on camera footage, comprised of a single image or a series of images, would be advantageous.

This work presents a methodology initially based on the work of Lin, Gu, Yamazaki and Shum that takes into account edge color mixtures in an image or image sequence, that are affected by the non-linearity introduced by a CRF. In addition, a novel feature based on image noise is introduced to overcome some of the limitations of edge color mixtures. These features provide information that is included in the likelihood probability distribution in a Bayesian framework to estimate the CRF as the expected value of a posterior probability distribution, which is itself approximated by a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling algorithm. This allows for a more complete description of the CRF over methods like Maximum Likelihood (ML) and Maximum A Posteriori (MAP). The CRF function is modeled by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) of the Database of Response Functions (DoRF) compiled by Grossberg and Nayar, and the prior probability distribution is modeled by a Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM) of the PCA coefficients for the responses in the DoRF. CRF estimation results are presented for an ARRI electronic motion picture camera, showing the improved estimation accuracy and practicality of this method over previous methods for motion picture post-production workflows.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Digital cinematography--Data processing; Bayesian statistical decision theory; Image processing--Digital techniques

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Computing and Information Sciences (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Computer Science (GCCIS)


Pengcheng Shi

Advisor/Committee Member

Nathan D. Cahill

Advisor/Committee Member

Rui Li


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes