Paul Debevec leads the Graphics Laboratory at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies and is a Research Associate Professor in the USC Computer Science Department. He earned degrees in Math and Computer Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1992 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 1996. He began combining research in computer vision and computer graphics in 1991 by three-dimensionally modeling and rendering a Chevette from photographs. At Interval Research Corporation he contributed to Michael Naimark's Immersion '94 virtual exploration of Banff National forest and collaborated with Golan Levin on the interactive art installation Rouen Revisited.
Debevec's Ph.D. thesis under Prof. Jitendra Malik presented Façade, an image-based modeling system for creating virtual cinematography of architectural scenes using new techniques for photogrammetry and image-based rendering. Using Façade he directed a photorealistic fly-around of the Berkeley campus for his 1997 film The Campanile Movie whose techniques were later used to create the Academy Award-winning virtual backgrounds in the "bullet time" shots in the 1999 film The Matrix.
Following his Ph.D. Debevec developed techniques for capturing real-world illumination and illuminating synthetic objects with real light, facilitating the realistic integration of real and computer generated imagery. His 1999 film Fiat Lux placed towering monoliths and gleaming spheres into a photorealistic reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica, all illuminated by the light that was actually there. Techniques from this research known as HDRI and Image-Based Lighting have been used to dramatic effect in films such as the X-Men series, The Matrix sequels, The Chronicles of Narnia, Batman Begins, and the Academy-Award winning The Golden Compass. Debevec led the design of HDR Shop, the first high dynamic range image editing program and co-authored the 2005 book High Dynamic Range Imaging from Morgan Kaufmann. Debevec's 2004 film The Parthenon used 3D scanning, inverse global illumination, HDRI, and image-based lighting to virtually reunite the Parthenon and its sculptures, later contributing to depictions of the Parthenon for the 2004 Olympics, NHK, PBS's NOVA, National Geographic, IMAX, and The Louvre.
At USC ICT Debevec has led the development of several Light Stage systems that capture and simulate how people and objects appear under real-world illumination. The Light Stage 2 process was used by Sony Pictures Imageworks to create photoreal digital actors as part of the Academy Award-winning visual effects in Spider Man 2, the Academy Award-nominated visual effects in Superman Returns, and most recently Spider Man 3.
In 2001 Debevec received ACM SIGGRAPH's first Significant New Researcher Award for "Creative and Innovative Work in the Field of Image-Based Modeling and Rendering", in 2002 was named one of the world's top 100 young innovators by MIT's Technology Review Magazine, and in 2005 received a Lillian Gilbreth lectureship from the National Academy of Engineering. Debevec is a member of ACM SIGGRAPH, the Visual Effects Society, and was a program co-chair for the 2002 Eurographics Workshop on Rendering. He recently served as the chair of the SIGGRAPH 2007 Computer Animation Festival.