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TIME Magazine Names NVIDIA Instant NeRF a Best Invention of 2022

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TIME Magazine named NVIDIA Instant NeRF, a technology capable of transforming 2D images into 3D scenes, one of the Best Inventions of 2022

“Before NVIDIA Instant NeRF, creating 3D scenes required specialized equipment, expertise, and lots of time and money. Now it just takes a few photos and a few minutes,” TIME writes in their release.

The 3D rendering tool was introduced at SIGGRAPH 2022, the world’s largest conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques. 

At SIGGRAPH, NVIDIA researchers Thomas Müller, Alex Evans, Christoph Schied, and Alexander Keller submitted their paper, Instant Neural Graphics Primitives with a Multiresolution Hash Encoding. The innovative research quickly gained popularity, winning the SIGGRAPH 2022 Technical Papers Award

Accumulating tens of thousands of downloads and achieving over 9,700 stars on the Instant NeRF GitHub page, developers and 3D content creators are embracing the ability to create stunning 3D scenes with the tool. 

What is a NeRF?

Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF) are neural networks capable of generating 3D images or scenes from a set of 2D images. Using spatial location and volumetric rendering, the model uses the camera pose from the images to render the 3D space of the scene.

NeRFs are computationally intensive and historically required many hours for rendering. However, Instant NeRFs give users the power to render an image or scene quickly and accurately with a small number of images. You can generate a scene in seconds and the longer the model trains the more details of a scene are rendered. 

Video 1. Amalfi Coast created with Instant NeRF. Credit: Jonathan Stephens

Exploring NeRFs

To support developers adopting Instant NeRF, NVIDIA hosted an Instant NeRF Sweepstakes over the summer. The event encouraged contestants to explore their creative abilities while using InstantNeRF and the chance to win a GeForce RTX 3090. The sweepstakes reached over 2.7 million people on Twitter. 

Since the code release, a large community of creators ranging from AI researchers to photographers have demonstrated their Instant NGP skills by making their own NeRFs.

“NeRF is a way to freeze a moment in time that is more immersive than a photograph or a video. It’s a way to recreate a moment – the whole moment. NeRF is the natural extension of photogrammetry and the evolution of modern photography,” said Michael Rubloff of Franc Lucent, an early explorer in NeRF technology.

Video 2. NERF of Zeus. Credit: Hugues Bruyère

“Museums are great exploration fields for interactive and immersive experiences. Volumetric scenes like this one can also directly contribute to historical heritage conservation, with a modern and immersive twist,” said Hugues Bruyère, partner and chief of innovation at the Montreal-based creative studio Dpt.

The community has taken NeRFs to another level by expressing themselves and their art through this new form of photography. Some have even found ways to make NeRFs impactful in how they work.

Video 3. A NeRF scene of a woman meditating. Credit: Franc Lucent

Make your own NeRFs

This remarkable technology is available for anyone to try out! 

Check out this Getting Started with Instant NeRF post on how to set up the code and create your first NeRF. Or skip right to the code and try it out for yourself by visiting the NV Labs Instant NeRF GitHub

You can also see how various artists & professionals have used Instant NeRF in their projects

Video 4. Using NeRF to scan mirror surfaces. Credit: Karen X. Cheng and James Perlman

Featured image: The Purdue Engineering Fountain. Credit: Jonathan Stephens