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 will be 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.
If I understand it correctly, ReCap Photo will offer a choice between Aerial and Object. If the latter is chosen, I expect the program to work pretty much like the review below. I’ll update this review after I’ve fully tested ReCap Photo in December 2017.
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!
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.
Okay this is not an app but it is my personal new method of choice for capturing 3D on the go. Simply shoot video — preferably in 4K — and process it when you come back home on a Windows PC running the new, FREE version of 3DF Zephyr. Capture is fast and doesn’t require any special hardware or app. And the results are surprisingly good!
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.
Update September 2017
Autodesk ReCap 360 will be discontinued on December 1, 2017. The photogrammetry functionality of this web application will be moved into Autodesk ReCap Pro as a feature called ReCap Photo.