[img, info, errmsg] = HDRRead(imgfilename [, continueOnError=0][, flipit=0])
Read a high dynamic range image file and return it as double() matrix,
suitable for use with Screen(‘MakeTexture’) and friends.

Input arguments:

‘imgfilename’ - Filename of the HDR image file to load.

‘continueOnError’ Optional flag. If set to 1, HDRRead won’t abort on
error, but simply return an empty ‘img’ matrix and ‘info’ and a error
message in ‘errmsg’. Useful for probing if a specific file type is
supported. If set to 0 or omitted, then HDRRead will abort with an error
on any problem or unsupported image file types.

‘flipit’ Optional flag: If set to 1, the loaded image is flipped upside

Return arguments:

Returns ‘img’ - A double precision matrix of size h x w x c where h is
the height of the input image, w is the width and c is the number of
color channels: 1 for luminance images, 2 for luminance images with alpha
channel, 3 for true-color RGB images, 4 for RGB images with alpha
channel. If ‘imgfilename’ is not a supported file type or some error happens,
then ‘img’ will be returned as empty [] matrix.

Returns ‘info’ - A struct with info about the image. On error, ‘info’
will be returned as empty [] matrix. On success, ‘info’ has at least the
following fields, which may be computed from information in the image file,
or may be “made up” from internal hard-coded defaults, if the specific image
file or the general image file format do not provide the information:

info.format - A string describing the format of the image file, e.g.,
‘rgbe’ or ‘openexr’. See below for supported formats and their id’s.

info.dataWindow = Data window [xmin, ymin, xmax, ymax] as defined by OpenEXR.

info.displayWindow = Display window [xmin, ymin, xmax, ymax] as defined by OpenEXR.

info.pixelAspectRatio = Pixel aspect ratio as defined by OpenEXR.

info.screenWindowWidth = Window width as defined by OpenEXR.

info.screenWindowCenter = [cx, cy] as defined by OpenEXR.

info.lineOrder = Line order (0) = downwards/increasing (1) = upwards/decreasing
as defined by OpenEXR.

info.compression = Compression type id, as defined by OpenEXR: 0 = None,
1 = RLE, 2 = ZIPS, 3 = ZIP, 4 = PIZ, 5 = PXR24, 6 = B44,
7 = B44A, 128 = ZFP.

info.GamutFromFile = 0 if the file did not provide color gamut information,
= 1 if the file did provide color gamut information,
= -1 if the file may or may not contain gamut information,
but HDRRead() can not read it.

info.ColorGamut = 2-by-4 matrix with the CIE 1931 2D chromaticity
coordinates of the red, green, and blue primaries
(column 1 - 3) and of the white-point (4th column),
iow. the definition of the color gamut of the color
space in which the image is represented.

              If info.[GamutFromFile](GamutFromFile) is 1, then this matrix is parsed  
              from the image file. Otherwise, the file did not  
              provide the info and a hard-coded default is returned,  
              which is defined in the spec for the file format, e.g.,  
              Rec-709 color space for [OpenEXR](OpenEXR) images, and something  
              similar for .hdr Radiance images.  

info.sampleToNits = Either a conversion factor from sample units to nits,
ie. the value by which each color component needs to
be multiplied to convert it into nits. Or the value
zero, to mark the conversion factor as “unknown” if
the file does not provide the conversion factor.

Depending on the file format and the specific file, there may be more
optional info.subfields available, with file format specific meaning. Not
all image attributes can be parsed by HDRRead().

Returns ‘errmsg’ - An empty string on success, but on failure may contain
a useful error message for the user.

HDRRead is a dispatcher for a collection of reading routines for
different HDR image file formats. Currently supported are:

* Radiance run length encoded RGBE format, read via read_rle_rgbe().
File extension is “.hdr” or “.pic”. Returns a RGB image.

info.format is ‘rgbe’, color values are supposed to be in units of
radiance. The Radiance file format is specified here:


The specification suggests that a pixel (r,g,b) color value of (1,1,1)
corresponds to a total energy of 1 watt/steradian/sq.meter over the
visible spectrum. It proposes the following formula for conversion to
luminance for the standard Radiance RGB primaries:

luminance = 179 * (0.265*R + 0.670*G + 0.065*B)

So (r,g,b) = (1,1,1) corresponds to white light of 179 nits luminance.
The value of 179 lumens/watt is the standard luminous efficacy of
equal-energy white light that is defined and used by Radiance
specifically for this conversion.

* OpenEXR files, file extension is “.exr”. info.format is ‘openexr’.
By default, Screen()’s builtin Screen(‘ReadHDRImage’) function is used,
which uses the builtin tinyexr open-source library from:


This method is fast and can handle the most common OpenEXR format
encoding, single-part RGB(A) images, but will not be able to cope with
some more unusual encodings, e.g., YUV images, multipart images or deep
images, or additional integer channels for pixel ids. See the feature
table at tinyexr’s GitHub page for features and limitations. Some of
these limitations apply due to Screen()’s current use of tinyexr, e.g.,
tinyexr can handle multi-part images and some deep images, but Screen
currently does not implement the needed interfaces.

A technical high level spec for OpenEXR files can be found at:


In case of YUV images, HDRRead() will try to use the MIT licensed
exrread() command from the following 3rd package/webpage, if the
openexr-matlab package has been installed by the user:


That package uses the OpenEXR libraries for image reading, so those
libraries must be installed on your system as well by yourself. At
least GNU/Linux usually comes with libopenexr preinstalled or
installable from the distribution package archives.

The downside of using exrread() is that it won’t provide color gamut
meta information, but always return fixed gamut info for a Rec-709
color space. For properly color-managed image reading you might
therefore be better off using a 3rd party OpenEXR converter application
to convert YUV images to RGB images, so Screen()’s internal .exr
reading function can be used.

The reader routines are contributed code or open source / free software /
public domain code downloaded from various locations under different, but
MIT compatible licenses. See the help for the respective loaders for
copyright and author information.

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