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Autodesk’s free Photofly app may bring 3D Digitization to the masses

Filed under Computer Graphics

Next week, Autodesk will be releasing its free photo to 3D application Photofly. This video shows how it works. You’ll see they’re getting pretty respectable results without a sophisticated camera setup, so that it’s possible to take all the photographs for a building model by simply walking around the building, or of a head by moving around the person and taking pictures from a variety of angles without any kind of carousel for the subject or a fixed array of cameras.

The system uses a local Windows application called the Photo Scene Editor to assemble all the reference pictures and submit them to Autodesk’s servers for processing. Within the editor you can make some changes to your geometry based on entered measurements. Some amount of cleanup is also possible in the Editor. You can see more about the Editor’s features in the video below.

Any system for 3D digitizing gives you some crazy topology that has to be cleaned up. In earlier studio systems this was always combined with way too much geometry; here you can see that the triangular polygons, whose numbers are comparatively restrained, are still constructed with a bit of eccentricity.

The environmental models could probably be used as-is: the same goes for static props. But for character work you’d really need to retopologize the model so it’d animate well.

As I’ve watched these (and some other demos), I’ve been thinking about how well this might work for digitizing costume bits, clothing, and even plants – naturally draped and shaped objects that are difficult to create with polygon modeling. I think the possibilities for clothing and costume parts are especially interesting, given how many steampunk fans go completely mad with their costume work. Neat!

There’s recently been a lot of interest in adapting Microsoft’s Kinect into homebrewed 3D digitizing systems: but this, which is first of all free, and secondly requires only a digital camera, looks awfully promising. I guess we’ll find out in a week or so at the Photofly site.


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