An introduction to ISET objects and functions.

ISET is structured around a few key objects that are important parts of the image acquisition pipeline. These are the scene, optical image, sensor, and image processor.

For each object there are three fundamental operations: Create, set parameters, and get parameters.

This script introduces the first and simplest ISET object: a scene. The scene describes the radiance field. For the present tutorial we work with a simple planar radiance image, such as the image on a display surface. We have some implementations for 3D scenes that should be incorporated by 2013.

A main goal of this script is to illustrate the ISET programming style. By using ISET objects properly, the code and analysis are much easier to understand. The implementation of these objects was written before Matlab implemented its classes and thus doesn't rely on their organization. But many of the principles are the same.


 Use t_TABCOMPLETION to see the list of ISET tutorials
 Use s_TABCOMPLETION to see the list of ISET scripts.

See also: t_IntroductionOI.m

Reference Notes:

For some discussion of classes, go to:

For some discussion of scenes in perception, go to:

Copyright ImagEval Consultants, LLC, 2011.


Initializing ISET

While not necessary, initialization keeps the work space clean


Create a scene and explore some of its features

The create function initiates the object. Typically, there are many different initial formats. For the scene, the optics including color targets, patterns, charts, and images.

% ISET sceneCreate builds a number of predefined scenes
% You can see the range of possibilities by typing
%    help sceneCreate, or
%    doc sceneScreate
% into the Matlab prompt.

% Create a scene: Here is a simple scene of a color chart
scene = sceneCreate('macbeth d65');

% To put the scene object into a window of the graphical user interface
% (GUI), first we use the command ISET that adds the scene to the ISET
% database:

% Then we call the function sceneWindow which displays the object This call
% opens the  graphical interface and displays the current scene

% When the window appears, you can scale the window size and adjust the
% font size as well (Edit | Change Font Size). There are many other options
% in the pull down menus for cropping, transposing, and measuring scene
% properties.

The way to interact with an object is through gets and sets.

For example, each object has a name and a type.

name  = sceneGet(scene,'name')
name =

Macbeth (D65)

There are many other scene parameters you can get

For example a scene has a horizontal field of view

hFOV = sceneGet(scene,'hfov')
hFOV =


Use sceneSet to change a scene property

scene = sceneSet(scene,'hfov',0.5);  % In degrees of visual angle

% Confirm that the set worked
hFOV  = sceneGet(scene,'hfov')
hFOV =


Philosophical interlude - programming issues

There are always more parameters to "get" than are to "set". This is because there are dependencies among any object parameters. For example, if you know the image distance and horizontal field of view, you can compute the spatial sample spacing.

In designing the sets/gets, the author must select an approach: Do we allow the user to set anything and then update the other parameters for consistency, or do we only allow the user to set specific parameters and through this limitation enforce consistency. ISET uses the 2nd method: Only some parameters can be set.

That is why there are more gets than sets. You can get parameters that depend on the sets.

You can see the scene structure and its parameters simply by typing

% While the objects in ISET can be addressed directly - please don't.
% If you are ever tempted to set the objects directly, go get a cup of
% coffee.  When you come back, you will feel like using a sceneSet

% You can see the scene parameters you can set by typing
% help sceneSet
% For a nicer formatting, use the Matlab doc command
% For example, you might try
%   doc sceneGet
%   doc sceneSet
scene = 

             type: 'scene'
         spectrum: [1x1 struct]
             name: 'Macbeth (D65)'
         distance: 1.2000
    magnification: 1
             data: [1x1 struct]
       illuminant: [1x1 struct]
         wAngular: 0.5000

Explore the relationship between parameters

To see an example of the dependence, consider the effect of scene distance, which we can get, on scene sample spacing.

dist    = sceneGet(scene,'distance','mm');
spacing = sceneGet(scene,'sample spacing','mm');

% If we move the scene closer, and we maintain the same number of row and
% column samples, the spacing changes.
scene = sceneSet(scene,'distance',0.6);
sceneGet(scene,'sample spacing','mm');
dist =


You can change the distance and horizontal field of view (hFOV)

This will change the sample spacing as well.

scene = sceneSet(scene,'hfov',hFOV/2);
sceneGet(scene,'sample spacing','mm')
ans =

    0.0273    0.0273

Specifying units

% In this example, we specified the units of the sample spacing as
% millimemters (mm). We could have specified microns.
sceneGet(scene,'sample spacing','um')

% or we could have specified the return in meters.
sceneGet(scene,'sample spacing','m')
ans =

   27.2708   27.2708

ans =

  1.0e-004 *

    0.2727    0.2727

Creating a scene from a file

ISET includes a few multispectral scenes. These are large files, so the default distribution only includes one example. We have another 100 or so that are available.

fname = fullfile(isetRootPath,'data','images','multispectral','stuffedAnimals_tungsten-hdrs.mat');
scene = sceneFromFile(fname,'multispectral');
vcAddAndSelectObject(scene); sceneWindow;

% Many scene properties that can be plotted either from the scene Window or
% using plotScene. For example, ISET scenes specify a uniform illuminant by
% default.  You can plot the illuminant in energy units by this command.
plotScene(scene,'illuminant energy');

% The plotScene command above is equivalent to
%  wave = sceneGet(scene,'wave');
%  illuminant  = sceneGet(scene,'illuminant energy');
%  vcNewGraphWin; plot(wave,illuminant); grid on
%  xlabel('wave (nm)'); ylabel('Energy (watts/sr/nm/m^2)')
Reading multispectral data.
Saved using svd method

You can change the illumination's spectral power distribution

In this case, we create a blackbody illuminant and reilluminate the scene.

bb = blackbody(sceneGet(scene,'wave'),6500,'energy');
scene = sceneAdjustIlluminant(scene,bb);
vcReplaceAndSelectObject(scene); sceneWindow;

ISET keeps track of units

In this case, we plot the illuminant in units of photons, rather than energy.

plotScene(scene,'illuminant photons');