The dragon is a synthetic 3d object (*.3DS, *.OBJ, etc.) rendered into a regular photograph!
This is just awesome: Kevin Karsch, Varsha Hedau, David Forsyth and Derek Hoiem have developed a method that allows to insert and render 3D objects (exported from modeling tools like 3ds Max, Blender, etc.) into photographs:
We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the
scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference. Further, our study shows that our method is competitive with other insertion methods while requiring less scene information. We also collected new illumination and reflectance datasets; renderings produced by our system compare well to ground truth. Our system has applications in the movie and gaming industry, as well as home decorating and user content creation, among others.
The complete whitepaper is available HERE
Source: kevinkarsch.com via email by John P.