Image based rendering is an attractive alternative to model based rendering for generating novel views because of its lower complexity and potential for photo-realistic results. To reduce the number of images necessary for alias-free rendering, some geometric information for the 3D scene is normally necessary. In this paper, we present a fast automatic layer-based method for synthesizing an arbitrary new view of a scene from a set of existing views. Our algorithm takes advantage of the knowledge of the typical structure of multiview data to perform occlusion-aware layer extraction. In addition, the number of depth layers used to approximate the geometry of the scene is chosen based on plenoptic sampling theory with the layers placed non-uniformly to account for the scene distribution. The rendering is achieved using a probabilistic interpolation approach and by extracting the depth layer information on a small number of key images. Numerical results demonstrate that the algorithm is fast and yet is only 0.25 dB away from the ideal performance achieved with the ground-truth knowledge of the 3D geometry of the scene of interest. This indicates that there are measurable benefits from following the predictions of plenoptic theory and that they remain true when translated into a practical system for real world data.