Abstract: We address the task of view synthesis, generating novel views of a scene given a set of images as input. In many recent works such as NeRF (Mildenhall et al., 2020), the scene geometry is parameterized using neural implicit representations (i.e., MLPs). Implicit neural representations have achieved impressive visual quality but have drawbacks in computational efficiency. In this work, we propose a new approach that performs view synthesis using point clouds. It is the first point-based method that achieves better visual quality than NeRF while being 100× faster in rendering speed. Our approach builds on existing works on differentiable point-based rendering but introduces a novel technique we call “Sculpted Neural Points (SNP)”, which significantly improves the robustness to errors and holes in the reconstructed point cloud. We further propose to use view-dependent point features based on spherical harmonics to capture non-Lambertian surfaces, and new designs in the point-based rendering pipeline that further boost the performance. Finally, we show that our system supports fine-grained scene editing. Code is available at https://github.com/princeton-vl/SNP.
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