Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 31 (NeurIPS 2018)
Thu H. Nguyen-Phuoc, Chuan Li, Stephen Balaban, Yongliang Yang
Traditional computer graphics rendering pipelines are designed for procedurally generating 2D images from 3D shapes with high performance. The nondifferentiability due to discrete operations (such as visibility computation) makes it hard to explicitly correlate rendering parameters and the resulting image, posing a significant challenge for inverse rendering tasks. Recent work on differentiable rendering achieves differentiability either by designing surrogate gradients for non-differentiable operations or via an approximate but differentiable renderer. These methods, however, are still limited when it comes to handling occlusion, and restricted to particular rendering effects. We present RenderNet, a differentiable rendering convolutional network with a novel projection unit that can render 2D images from 3D shapes. Spatial occlusion and shading calculation are automatically encoded in the network. Our experiments show that RenderNet can successfully learn to implement different shaders, and can be used in inverse rendering tasks to estimate shape, pose, lighting and texture from a single image.