Multi-Realism Image Compression with a Conditional Generator

By optimizing the rate-distortion-realism trade-off, generative compression approaches produce detailed, realistic images, even at low bit rates, instead of the blurry reconstructions produced by rate-distortion optimized models. However, previous methods do not explicitly control how much detail is synthesized, which results in a common criticism of these methods: users might be worried that a misleading reconstruction far from the input image is generated. In this work, we alleviate these concerns by training a decoder that can bridge the two regimes and navigate the distortion-realism trade-off. From a single compressed representation, the receiver can decide to either reconstruct a low mean squared error reconstruction that is close to the input, a realistic reconstruction with high perceptual quality, or anything in between. With our method, we set a new state-of-the-art in distortion-realism, pushing the frontier of achievable distortion-realism pairs, i.e., our method achieves better distortions at high realism and better realism at low distortion than ever before.

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