SMIRK: 3D Facial Expressions through Analysis-by-Neural-Synthesis (CVPR 2024)

SMIRK reconstructs 3D faces from monocular images with facial geometry that faithfully recover extreme, asymmetric, and subtle expressions.

Teaser Video


While existing methods for 3D face reconstruction from in-the-wild images excel at recovering the overall face shape, they commonly miss subtle, extreme, asymmetric, or rarely observed expressions. We improve upon these methods with SMIRK (Spatial Modeling for Image-based Reconstruction of Kinesics), which faithfully reconstructs expressive 3D faces from images. We identify two key limitations in existing methods: shortcomings in their self-supervised training formulation, and a lack of expression diversity in the training images. For training, most methods employ differentiable rendering to compare a predicted face mesh with the input image, along with a plethora of additional loss functions. This differentiable rendering loss not only has to provide supervision to optimize for 3D face geometry, camera, albedo, and lighting, which is an ill-posed optimization problem, but the domain gap between rendering and input image further hinders the learning process. Instead, SMIRK replaces the differentiable rendering with a neural rendering module that, given the rendered predicted mesh geometry, and sparsely sampled pixels of the input image, generates a face image. As the neural rendering gets color information from sampled image pixels, supervising with neural rendering-based reconstruction loss can focus solely on the geometry. Further, it enables us to generate images of the input identity with varying expressions while training. These are then utilized as input to the reconstruction model and used as supervision with ground truth geometry. This effectively augments the training data and enhances the generalization for diverse expressions. Our qualitative, quantitative and particularly our perceptual evaluations demonstrate that SMIRK achieves the new state-of-the art performance on accurate expression reconstruction.