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First-year students create imaging system that uses lasers to paint caricatures

First-year students create imaging system that uses lasers to paint caricatures

A team of first-year RIT students developed a system that uses imaging technology and lasers to produce artistic caricatures. Three of the students who helped develop the Fourier Laser Light Painting system for Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science’s Innovative Freshman Experience class will showcase the system at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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RIT will showcase a variety of research projects undertaken by students and faculty-mentors over the 2020-21 academic year during the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, held virtually July 29 through Aug. 4. Read more about the symposium.

Each year the Innovative Freshman Experience partners imaging sciencemotion picture science, and photographic sciences students together to solve a unique problem. This year, the students were tasked broadly with creating a system that acts as a mirror, but they came up with creative methods of capturing, processing and displaying the resulting mirror image. The system captures a picture of a person and uses a Fourier transform to create a line drawing, animates the drawing, and then uses a laser and phosphorescent screen to create a unique display.

“I loved having an opportunity to do this as a first-year course,” said Anna Mason, an imaging science student from Monument, Colo. “It’s typically something reserved for upperclassmen at other schools. Having an opportunity to jump straight in and learn on the fly is unique and sets you up well for the future. There’s a concurrent theoretical class and it was great being able to learn pieces from that class and apply it to this project.”

The class completed an initial version of the system in the spring and presented it at Imagine RIT, but thanks to a donation from Jeffrey Harris ’75 (photographic science and instrumentation) and Joyce Pratt, three students received funding to continue to refine the system over the summer, producing a more finished product.

“The three of us have been continuing to work on this project remotely from our hometowns, which presents challenges, but I have learned a lot of interesting, unexpected things as a result,” said Sara Mallory, a first-year imaging science student from Northville, Mich. “The simplest way to describe this project is it’s about learning how to troubleshoot and come up with creative solutions to obstacles.”

Troy Church, a first-year imaging science student from Merrimack, N.H., who worked on the processing team, said he loved the challenge of creating something novel.

“The most interesting part of this class was realizing not every problem has an obvious error message,” said Church. “You have to find problems you might not even realize are occurring. Determining how to fix those problems without someone telling you you’re doing something wrong was odd. You have to figure out what you’re supposed to change in order to get it working properly. Fixing those problems was always very rewarding.”

To learn more about the Fourier Laser Light Painting system as well as other undergraduate research and creative projects, go to the Undergraduate Research Symposium website.

Go Tigers!

The Innovative Freshman Experience team also used their Fourier Laser Light Painting system to animate the RIT logo.


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