Ian Cavén: He Had to Be In Pictures

Restoring old movies for porting to DVDs and for showing in theaters is not the kind of work you would think could be done by one man working in his basement

6 min read
Ian Cavén in front of movie still from "North By Northwest"
North By Northwest: This classic 1959 film was one of the first to benefit from digital restoration software developed by Ian Cavén, right.
Movie Still: MPTV.net; Additional Photography: Hans Sipma

Ian Cavén works at home, and that’s just the way he likes it. He doesn’t visit customers; he doesn’t go to conferences. Most of the time it’s just him, his two cats, and four Macintosh G4s in his Burnaby, B.C., Canada, basement. Cavén communicates via DSL across the Canada-U.S. border to the 80-plus people at Lowry Digital Images Inc.’s headquarters in Burbank, Calif.

Cavén is chief scientist for Lowry Digital, which restores movies for porting to DVD and makes new, high-quality prints for showing at theaters. The company is a pioneer in this emerging field, and each movie presents new challenges, so Cavén’s research is at the cutting edge of image processing. Among the questions he has examined are: can a computer distinguish between dust on a negative and the image itself? Might a DVD of Star Wars (1977) have higher-quality images than the original movie print? Can mold damage to the best surviving print of Giant (1956) be identified automatically and eliminated?

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today's videos!

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New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.


On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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Get the Coursera Campus Skills Report 2022

Download the report to learn which job skills students need to build high-growth careers

1 min read

Get comprehensive insights into higher education skill trends based on data from 3.8M registered learners on Coursera, and learn clear steps you can take to ensure your institution's engineering curriculum is aligned with the needs of the current and future job market. Download the report now!