10,16,2021

News Blog Paper China
Survey: Machine Learning in Production Rendering2020-05-26   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
In the past few years, machine learning-based approaches have had some great success for rendering animated feature films. This survey summarizes several of the most dramatic improvements in using deep neural networks over traditional rendering methods, such as better image quality and lower computational overhead. More specifically, this survey covers the fundamental principles of machine learning and its applications, such as denoising, path guiding, rendering participating media, and other notoriously difficult light transport situations. Some of these techniques have already been used in the latest released animations while others are still in the continuing development by researchers in both academia and movie studios. Although learning-based rendering methods still have some open issues, they have already demonstrated promising performance in multiple parts of the rendering pipeline, and people are continuously making new attempts.
 
DSRGAN: Explicitly Learning Disentangled Representation of Underlying Structure and Rendering for Image Generation without Tuple Supervision2019-09-30   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We focus on explicitly learning disentangled representation for natural image generation, where the underlying spatial structure and the rendering on the structure can be independently controlled respectively, yet using no tuple supervision. The setting is significant since tuple supervision is costly and sometimes even unavailable. However, the task is highly unconstrained and thus ill-posed. To address this problem, we propose to introduce an auxiliary domain which shares a common underlying-structure space with the target domain, and we make a partially shared latent space assumption. The key idea is to encourage the partially shared latent variable to represent the similar underlying spatial structures in both domains, while the two domain-specific latent variables will be unavoidably arranged to present renderings of two domains respectively. This is achieved by designing two parallel generative networks with a common Progressive Rendering Architecture (PRA), which constrains both generative networks' behaviors to model shared underlying structure and to model spatially dependent relation between rendering and underlying structure. Thus, we propose DSRGAN (GANs for Disentangling Underlying Structure and Rendering) to instantiate our method. We also propose a quantitative criterion (the Normalized Disentanglability) to quantify disentanglability. Comparison to the state-of-the-art methods shows that DSRGAN can significantly outperform them in disentanglability.
 
Neural Sparse Voxel Fields2020-07-22   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Photo-realistic free-viewpoint rendering of real-world scenes using classical computer graphics techniques is challenging, because it requires the difficult step of capturing detailed appearance and geometry models. Recent studies have demonstrated promising results by learning scene representations that implicitly encode both geometry and appearance without 3D supervision. However, existing approaches in practice often show blurry renderings caused by the limited network capacity or the difficulty in finding accurate intersections of camera rays with the scene geometry. Synthesizing high-resolution imagery from these representations often requires time-consuming optical ray marching. In this work, we introduce Neural Sparse Voxel Fields (NSVF), a new neural scene representation for fast and high-quality free-viewpoint rendering. NSVF defines a set of voxel-bounded implicit fields organized in a sparse voxel octree to model local properties in each cell. We progressively learn the underlying voxel structures with a diffentiable ray-marching operation from only a set of posed RGB images. With the sparse voxel octree structure, rendering novel views can be accelerated by skipping the voxels containing no relevant scene content. Our method is over 10 times faster than the state-of-the-art (namely, NeRF) at inference time while achieving higher quality results. Furthermore, by utilizing an explicit sparse voxel representation, our method can easily be applied to scene editing and scene composition. We also demonstrate several challenging tasks, including multi-scene learning, free-viewpoint rendering of a moving human, and large-scale scene rendering.
 
BIM Hyperreality: Data Synthesis Using BIM and Hyperrealistic Rendering for Deep Learning2021-05-10   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Deep learning is expected to offer new opportunities and a new paradigm for the field of architecture. One such opportunity is teaching neural networks to visually understand architectural elements from the built environment. However, the availability of large training datasets is one of the biggest limitations of neural networks. Also, the vast majority of training data for visual recognition tasks is annotated by humans. In order to resolve this bottleneck, we present a concept of a hybrid system using both building information modeling (BIM) and hyperrealistic (photorealistic) rendering to synthesize datasets for training a neural network for building object recognition in photos. For generating our training dataset BIMrAI, we used an existing BIM model and a corresponding photo-realistically rendered model of the same building. We created methods for using renderings to train a deep learning model, trained a generative adversarial network (GAN) model using these methods, and tested the output model on real-world photos. For the specific case study presented in this paper, our results show that a neural network trained with synthetic data; i.e., photorealistic renderings and BIM-based semantic labels, can be used to identify building objects from photos without using photos in the training data. Future work can enhance the presented methods using available BIM models and renderings for more generalized mapping and description of photographed built environments.
 
Learning to Importance Sample in Primary Sample Space2018-08-23   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Importance sampling is one of the most widely used variance reduction strategies in Monte Carlo rendering. In this paper, we propose a novel importance sampling technique that uses a neural network to learn how to sample from a desired density represented by a set of samples. Our approach considers an existing Monte Carlo rendering algorithm as a black box. During a scene-dependent training phase, we learn to generate samples with a desired density in the primary sample space of the rendering algorithm using maximum likelihood estimation. We leverage a recent neural network architecture that was designed to represent real-valued non-volume preserving ('Real NVP') transformations in high dimensional spaces. We use Real NVP to non-linearly warp primary sample space and obtain desired densities. In addition, Real NVP efficiently computes the determinant of the Jacobian of the warp, which is required to implement the change of integration variables implied by the warp. A main advantage of our approach is that it is agnostic of underlying light transport effects, and can be combined with many existing rendering techniques by treating them as a black box. We show that our approach leads to effective variance reduction in several practical scenarios.
 
Geometry-Aware Neural Rendering2019-10-27   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Understanding the 3-dimensional structure of the world is a core challenge in computer vision and robotics. Neural rendering approaches learn an implicit 3D model by predicting what a camera would see from an arbitrary viewpoint. We extend existing neural rendering to more complex, higher dimensional scenes than previously possible. We propose Epipolar Cross Attention (ECA), an attention mechanism that leverages the geometry of the scene to perform efficient non-local operations, requiring only $O(n)$ comparisons per spatial dimension instead of $O(n^2)$. We introduce three new simulated datasets inspired by real-world robotics and demonstrate that ECA significantly improves the quantitative and qualitative performance of Generative Query Networks (GQN).
 
SyntheticFur dataset for neural rendering2021-05-13   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We introduce a new dataset called SyntheticFur built specifically for machine learning training. The dataset consists of ray traced synthetic fur renders with corresponding rasterized input buffers and simulation data files. We procedurally generated approximately 140,000 images and 15 simulations with Houdini. The images consist of fur groomed with different skin primitives and move with various motions in a predefined set of lighting environments. We also demonstrated how the dataset could be used with neural rendering to significantly improve fur graphics using inexpensive input buffers by training a conditional generative adversarial network with perceptual loss. We hope the availability of such high fidelity fur renders will encourage new advances with neural rendering for a variety of applications.
 
Neural BRDF Representation and Importance Sampling2021-02-11   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Controlled capture of real-world material appearance yields tabulated sets of highly realistic reflectance data. In practice, however, its high memory footprint requires compressing into a representation that can be used efficiently in rendering while remaining faithful to the original. Previous works in appearance encoding often prioritised one of these requirements at the expense of the other, by either applying high-fidelity array compression strategies not suited for efficient queries during rendering, or by fitting a compact analytic model that lacks expressiveness. We present a compact neural network-based representation of BRDF data that combines high-accuracy reconstruction with efficient practical rendering via built-in interpolation of reflectance. We encode BRDFs as lightweight networks, and propose a training scheme with adaptive angular sampling, critical for the accurate reconstruction of specular highlights. Additionally, we propose a novel approach to make our representation amenable to importance sampling: rather than inverting the trained networks, we learn an embedding that can be mapped to parameters of an analytic BRDF for which importance sampling is known. We evaluate encoding results on isotropic and anisotropic BRDFs from multiple real-world datasets, and importance sampling performance for isotropic BRDFs mapped to two different analytic models.
 
Integral Equations and Machine Learning2019-01-30   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
As both light transport simulation and reinforcement learning are ruled by the same Fredholm integral equation of the second kind, reinforcement learning techniques may be used for photorealistic image synthesis: Efficiency may be dramatically improved by guiding light transport paths by an approximate solution of the integral equation that is learned during rendering. In the light of the recent advances in reinforcement learning for playing games, we investigate the representation of an approximate solution of an integral equation by artificial neural networks and derive a loss function for that purpose. The resulting Monte Carlo and quasi-Monte Carlo methods train neural networks with standard information instead of linear information and naturally are able to generate an arbitrary number of training samples. The methods are demonstrated for applications in light transport simulation.
 
Single Image BRDF Parameter Estimation with a Conditional Adversarial Network2019-10-11   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Creating plausible surfaces is an essential component in achieving a high degree of realism in rendering. To relieve artists, who create these surfaces in a time-consuming, manual process, automated retrieval of the spatially-varying Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (SVBRDF) from a single mobile phone image is desirable. By leveraging a deep neural network, this casual capturing method can be achieved. The trained network can estimate per pixel normal, base color, metallic and roughness parameters from the Disney BRDF. The input image is taken with a mobile phone lit by the camera flash. The network is trained to compensate for environment lighting and thus learned to reduce artifacts introduced by other light sources. These losses contain a multi-scale discriminator with an additional perceptual loss, a rendering loss using a differentiable renderer, and a parameter loss. Besides the local precision, this loss formulation generates material texture maps which are globally more consistent. The network is set up as a generator network trained in an adversarial fashion to ensure that only plausible maps are produced. The estimated parameters not only reproduce the material faithfully in rendering but capture the style of hand-authored materials due to the more global loss terms compared to previous works without requiring additional post-processing. Both the resolution and the quality is improved.
 
Photo-Guided Exploration of Volume Data Features2017-10-18   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
In this work, we pose the question of whether, by considering qualitative information such as a sample target image as input, one can produce a rendered image of scientific data that is similar to the target. The algorithm resulting from our research allows one to ask the question of whether features like those in the target image exists in a given dataset. In that way, our method is one of imagery query or reverse engineering, as opposed to manual parameter tweaking of the full visualization pipeline. For target images, we can use real-world photographs of physical phenomena. Our method leverages deep neural networks and evolutionary optimization. Using a trained similarity function that measures the difference between renderings of a phenomenon and real-world photographs, our method optimizes rendering parameters. We demonstrate the efficacy of our method using a superstorm simulation dataset and images found online. We also discuss a parallel implementation of our method, which was run on NCSA's Blue Waters.
 
Percival: Making In-Browser Perceptual Ad Blocking Practical With Deep Learning2020-05-19   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
In this paper we present Percival, a browser-embedded, lightweight, deep learning-powered ad blocker. Percival embeds itself within the browser's image rendering pipeline, which makes it possible to intercept every image obtained during page execution and to perform blocking based on applying machine learning for image classification to flag potential ads. Our implementation inside both Chromium and Brave browsers shows only a minor rendering performance overhead of 4.55%, demonstrating the feasibility of deploying traditionally heavy models (i.e. deep neural networks) inside the critical path of the rendering engine of a browser. We show that our image-based ad blocker can replicate EasyList rules with an accuracy of 96.76%. To show the versatility of the Percival's approach we present case studies that demonstrate that Percival 1) does surprisingly well on ads in languages other than English; 2) Percival also performs well on blocking first-party Facebook ads, which have presented issues for other ad blockers. Percival proves that image-based perceptual ad blocking is an attractive complement to today's dominant approach of block lists
 
Monocular Differentiable Rendering for Self-Supervised 3D Object Detection2020-09-30   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
3D object detection from monocular images is an ill-posed problem due to the projective entanglement of depth and scale. To overcome this ambiguity, we present a novel self-supervised method for textured 3D shape reconstruction and pose estimation of rigid objects with the help of strong shape priors and 2D instance masks. Our method predicts the 3D location and meshes of each object in an image using differentiable rendering and a self-supervised objective derived from a pretrained monocular depth estimation network. We use the KITTI 3D object detection dataset to evaluate the accuracy of the method. Experiments demonstrate that we can effectively use noisy monocular depth and differentiable rendering as an alternative to expensive 3D ground-truth labels or LiDAR information.
 
CONFIG: Controllable Neural Face Image Generation2020-05-12   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Our ability to sample realistic natural images, particularly faces, has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, yet our ability to exert fine-tuned control over the generative process has lagged behind. If this new technology is to find practical uses, we need to achieve a level of control over generative networks which, without sacrificing realism, is on par with that seen in computer graphics and character animation. To this end we propose ConfigNet, a neural face model that allows for controlling individual aspects of output images in semantically meaningful ways and that is a significant step on the path towards finely-controllable neural rendering. ConfigNet is trained on real face images as well as synthetic face renders. Our novel method uses synthetic data to factorize the latent space into elements that correspond to the inputs of a traditional rendering pipeline, separating aspects such as head pose, facial expression, hair style, illumination, and many others which are very hard to annotate in real data. The real images, which are presented to the network without labels, extend the variety of the generated images and encourage realism. Finally, we propose an evaluation criterion using an attribute detection network combined with a user study and demonstrate state-of-the-art individual control over attributes in the output images.
 
Textured Neural Avatars2019-05-21   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We present a system for learning full-body neural avatars, i.e. deep networks that produce full-body renderings of a person for varying body pose and camera position. Our system takes the middle path between the classical graphics pipeline and the recent deep learning approaches that generate images of humans using image-to-image translation. In particular, our system estimates an explicit two-dimensional texture map of the model surface. At the same time, it abstains from explicit shape modeling in 3D. Instead, at test time, the system uses a fully-convolutional network to directly map the configuration of body feature points w.r.t. the camera to the 2D texture coordinates of individual pixels in the image frame. We show that such a system is capable of learning to generate realistic renderings while being trained on videos annotated with 3D poses and foreground masks. We also demonstrate that maintaining an explicit texture representation helps our system to achieve better generalization compared to systems that use direct image-to-image translation.
 
ORRB -- OpenAI Remote Rendering Backend2019-06-26   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We present the OpenAI Remote Rendering Backend (ORRB), a system that allows fast and customizable rendering of robotics environments. It is based on the Unity3d game engine and interfaces with the MuJoCo physics simulation library. ORRB was designed with visual domain randomization in mind. It is optimized for cloud deployment and high throughput operation. We are releasing it to the public under a liberal MIT license: https://github.com/openai/orrb .
 
Learning Adaptive Sampling and Reconstruction for Volume Visualization2020-07-20   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
A central challenge in data visualization is to understand which data samples are required to generate an image of a data set in which the relevant information is encoded. In this work, we make a first step towards answering the question of whether an artificial neural network can predict where to sample the data with higher or lower density, by learning of correspondences between the data, the sampling patterns and the generated images. We introduce a novel neural rendering pipeline, which is trained end-to-end to generate a sparse adaptive sampling structure from a given low-resolution input image, and reconstructs a high-resolution image from the sparse set of samples. For the first time, to the best of our knowledge, we demonstrate that the selection of structures that are relevant for the final visual representation can be jointly learned together with the reconstruction of this representation from these structures. Therefore, we introduce differentiable sampling and reconstruction stages, which can leverage back-propagation based on supervised losses solely on the final image. We shed light on the adaptive sampling patterns generated by the network pipeline and analyze its use for volume visualization including isosurface and direct volume rendering.
 
Contrastive Rendering for Ultrasound Image Segmentation2020-10-10   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
Ultrasound (US) image segmentation embraced its significant improvement in deep learning era. However, the lack of sharp boundaries in US images still remains an inherent challenge for segmentation. Previous methods often resort to global context, multi-scale cues or auxiliary guidance to estimate the boundaries. It is hard for these methods to approach pixel-level learning for fine-grained boundary generating. In this paper, we propose a novel and effective framework to improve boundary estimation in US images. Our work has three highlights. First, we propose to formulate the boundary estimation as a rendering task, which can recognize ambiguous points (pixels/voxels) and calibrate the boundary prediction via enriched feature representation learning. Second, we introduce point-wise contrastive learning to enhance the similarity of points from the same class and contrastively decrease the similarity of points from different classes. Boundary ambiguities are therefore further addressed. Third, both rendering and contrastive learning tasks contribute to consistent improvement while reducing network parameters. As a proof-of-concept, we performed validation experiments on a challenging dataset of 86 ovarian US volumes. Results show that our proposed method outperforms state-of-the-art methods and has the potential to be used in clinical practice.
 
NeRF-VAE: A Geometry Aware 3D Scene Generative Model2021-04-01   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
We propose NeRF-VAE, a 3D scene generative model that incorporates geometric structure via NeRF and differentiable volume rendering. In contrast to NeRF, our model takes into account shared structure across scenes, and is able to infer the structure of a novel scene -- without the need to re-train -- using amortized inference. NeRF-VAE's explicit 3D rendering process further contrasts previous generative models with convolution-based rendering which lacks geometric structure. Our model is a VAE that learns a distribution over radiance fields by conditioning them on a latent scene representation. We show that, once trained, NeRF-VAE is able to infer and render geometrically-consistent scenes from previously unseen 3D environments using very few input images. We further demonstrate that NeRF-VAE generalizes well to out-of-distribution cameras, while convolutional models do not. Finally, we introduce and study an attention-based conditioning mechanism of NeRF-VAE's decoder, which improves model performance.
 
Beyond Photo Realism for Domain Adaptation from Synthetic Data2019-09-04   ${\displaystyle \cong }$
As synthetic imagery is used more frequently in training deep models, it is important to understand how different synthesis techniques impact the performance of such models. In this work, we perform a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of several different synthesis techniques and their impact on the complexity of classifier domain adaptation to the "real" underlying data distribution that they seek to replicate. In addition, we propose a novel learned synthesis technique to better train classifier models than state-of-the-art offline graphical methods, while using significantly less computational resources. We accomplish this by learning a generative model to perform shading of synthetic geometry conditioned on a "g-buffer" representation of the scene to render, as well as a low sample Monte Carlo rendered image. The major contributions are (i) a dataset that allows comparison of real and synthetic versions of the same scene, (ii) an augmented data representation that boosts the stability of learning and improves the datasets accuracy, (iii) three different partially differentiable rendering techniques where lighting, denoising and shading are learned, and (iv) we improve a state of the art generative adversarial network (GAN) approach by using an ensemble of trained models to generate datasets that approach the performance of training on real data and surpass the performance of the full global illumination rendering.