The Making of Welcome to Light Fields

Abstract:  Light fields can provide transportive immersive experiences with a level of realism unsurpassed by any other imaging technology. Within a limited viewing volume, light fields accurately reproduce stereo parallax, motion parallax, reflections, refractions, and volumetric effects for real-world scenes. While light fields have been explored in computer graphics since the mid-90’s, practical systems for recording, processing, and delivering high quality light field experiences have remained out of reach.

In this talk, we describe the hardware and software developed to produce the Welcome to Light Fields virtual reality experience, the first immersive light field experience that can be downloaded and viewed on VR-ready computers with HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality HMDs. This piece enables the user to step into a collection of panoramic light field still photographs and be guided through a number of light field environments, including the flight deck of Space Shuttle Discovery. Welcome to Light Fields is a free VR application on the Steam Store that was launched in March 2018 (

Speaker: Ryan Overbeck, staff software engineer, Google Inc.

Bio:  Overbeck currently researches light field acquisition, processing, and real-time rendering. Since receiving his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2009, Ryan has largely focused on developing immersive real-time software products, such as the 3D satellite view in Google Maps, Google Street View for businesses, and Welcome to Light Fields, a free VR light field experience available on the Steam store.