I get a lot of questions about the computation speed versus the quality of photogrammetry solutions. Now that I’ve finished my fourth review of a desktop program I though it was time to start a new series where I will benchmark various applications with different kinds of images and goals.
I’m starting with a test that will be most important when people want to choose between hardware-based 3D scanning and Photogrammetry. Often a deciding factor in this is processing time. It’s good to know that all 3D scanning methods require time for processing and for hardware scanners this greatly depends on the accuracy of the scanner. So I took a processing time average between processing times of depth sensor software like Skanect and professional-grade solutions like EinScan and Artec Studio.
In general, I found that for everyday projects where speed is more important than ultimate quality, the 15-20 minute mark can be considered “fast”. When I do 3D renders for animation or VFX I call this coffee-break rendering. It’s the exact opposite of doing overnight computations. Realistic enough for tight deadlines and small budgets.
Because I think every story should contain an automotive analogy I decided to call this experiment a Photogrammetry Software Drag Race — it’s short, it’s fast, it’s dirty. This post is not about creating stunningly beautiful 3D models — it’s about efficiency and productivity.
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.
Autodesk ReMake has been discontinued as a standalone on December 1, 2017. The photogrammetry functionality of the application will be moved into Autodesk ReCap Pro as a feature called ReCap Photo.
I have reviewed ReCap Photo as a separate post that explains the differences between it and ReMake — both in in terms of functionality as in operational costs.
In 2016 I’ve mainly reviewed dedicated hardware that can be used for 3D Scanning — or Active Reality Capture, if you will — from entry-level infrared depth sensors like the Structure Sensor and Sense 2 to the professional white light scanners like the EinScan-Pro and Artec Eva. The price difference between those is huge (from less than $500 to way more than $5,000) but more expensive 3D scanners can capture a lot more detail.
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!
Update January 2018
Autodesk ReCap 360, including the web-based interface, has been discontinued on December 1, 2017. The photogrammetry functionality will be moved into Autodesk ReCap Pro as a feature called ReCap Photo. I have reviewed this software separately.
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.