Part of my plan for 2017 was covering more Photogrammetry software. After Autodesk ReCap (Review) and ReMake (Review) it’s now time for Agisoft PhotoScan. It’s developed by the Russian Agisoft LLC, founded in 2006.
The software very popular with photogrammetry professionals in all kinds of industries and is commonly used to 3D capture digital assets for Film VFX and Game Development. For example, it was the main photogrammetry software for capturing environmental assets for Star Wars: Battlefront which I wrote about a while ago. It’s s also used a lot in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage.
PhotoScan is also used a lot for drone-based aerial surveying, but that’s not a purpose I’ll be covering in this post.
This comprehensive review focuses on using PhotoScan for capturing objects of all sizes, using various single-camera setups.
Update March 2017:
The Mac version of Autodesk ReMake will be discontinued on March 31, 2017. The Review has been edited to reflect this.
But 3D scanner are not the only way to capture reality anymore. Passive Reality Capture technologies, like Photogrammetry, don’t require any special hardware. A camera and a computer will do. Even a smartphone — which is basically a camera and computer in one — can do photogrammetry when combined with Free Apps. That link brings you to one of the most-read posts on this website, because why would you pay for 3D scanning if it can be free?
Those apps, however, have their downsides. That’s why I’m starting a new series of reviews that will cover Professional Photogrammetry Software. First in line is Autodesk ReMake — previously known as Memento — which is available for Windows
and Mac. As you might now, I have reviewed Autodesk ReCap 360 in the past. Or at least, the web-interface (that also works on Android) of that software. As a whole ReCap 360 is actually meant for working with laser scans — from the new (and awesome) Leica BLK360 scanner or others — and mix those with photogrammetry if needed. ReMake is purely meant for photogrammetry and offers a complete set of tools to generate, edit and export 3D scans made from photos.
Autodesk’s goal with ReMake is to make professional Reality Capture simple and affordable. Let’s find out of they have succeeded!
As a new addition to this updated post, I added Autodesk Recap 360 which isn’t an app but does have a web interface that works on Android making it a good alternative for the discontinued 123D Catch.
This post originally also contained the Seene app. But this has been discontinued since it was acquired by Snapchat and that review has been removed from this post completely because it didn’t offer 360° 3D capture anyway.
Dedicated 3D scanning hardware is getting more mobile as we speak. While Structure Sensor (Review), iSense (Review) and RealSense R200 (Review) and SR300 (Review) are still more tablet devices, recent and upcoming solutions like Google Tango, Bevel (Review) and Scandy Pro are meant to be embedded or clipped onto smartphones.
And that the iSense App for iPad and iPhone (Review) let’s you make an unlimited amount of scans — for free?
iPad Air Bracket*
*also fits on 5th gen iPad (2017)
Be sure to read this post before purchasing an iSense.
But while depth sensors are indeed getting small enough to be pocketable soon, pure-software photogrammetry solutions that can generate 3D objects from regular 2D photos are getting smarter and faster, too. So I started asking myself: Do consumers actually need dedicated 3D capturing hardware for their phones if just software can do the trick?
To test the current state of software-only mobile 3D scanning, I tested different smartphone photogrammetry solutions on the same object under the same circumstances:
In this Review I’m testing Autodesk’s cloud-based “Photo to 3D”—or Photogrammetry—offerings: ReCap 360. Whereas 123D Catch is targeted at consumers, ReCap 360 is targeted at professionals. It has a few extra bells and whistles. Read on to find out if that means better results.
On 16 December 2016 Autodesk announced that all 123D apps, including Catch, will be discontinued in January 2017. This has indeed happened and 123D Catch is not available for download anymore.
However, the announcement states that they “are consolidating these tools and features into key apps such as […] ReMake.” So hopefully we’ll see a mobile version of that great PC/Mac software — which I will review soon.
For now, if you want to use Autodesks excellent cloud-based photogrammetry engine for free from a smartphone, you can use the ReCap 360 web app I reviewed, which also works on mobile browsers.
Or, if you really want a native app for iOS or android for mobile photogrammetry, check out my List of Free Photogrammetry Apps!
If you have any interest in 3D, you know Autodesk. The company is probably best known of its industry standard software Maya and 3ds Max, but also makes many, many more applications for creative technologists. Autodesk Animator was actually the first animation program I used back in the 1990s on my very first MS DOS computer (its 8-bit goodness makes me realize that we’re currently making a lot of trendy animated GIFs for our client’s online marketing at the animation studio I co-founded—nothing changed!). They also make nice mobile apps: I use Autodesk’s Pixlr app on a daily base to edit my mobile snapshots.
All three solutions can be used for Photogrammetry, a technique that uses a series of regular digital photographs to generate textured 3D objects. They’re all different interfaces that presumably use the same cloud-based 3D solving engine (using the Smart3DCapture technology licensed from Acute3D which is now owned by Bentley Systems).
I’ll take a look at them one by one, starting with the one that’s easiest to use for this first post: 123D Catch.
If you’re new to Reality Capture & Photogrammetry, this Review is also a great Tutorial for 123D Catch. Autodesk agrees:
This works well as a tutorial as well, thanks Nick! https://t.co/xoglguB4aX
— Autodesk 123D (@Autodesk123D) February 17, 2016