Autodesk ReCap3 Oct, 2013 By: Patrick Davis
First Look Review: Powerful pair of tools easily turns laser scans and photographs into quality visualizations and high-resolution 3D models.
On the heels of its successful launch of 123D Catch, a mobile app for consumers that turns photographs into 3D models, Autodesk introduced ReCap — a pair of reality-capture applications for professional designers, architects, and engineers who want to create intelligent 3D models from photos and point cloud data. ReCap Photo and ReCap Pro are available at no extra charge to users of Autodesk 2014 design and creation software suites. Using these tools, you can visualize massive point clouds as realistic surfaces and interact with them, performing CAD-like operations such as select, tag, move, measure, clash detection, and object extraction — all with native points.
Autodesk ReCap Photo
Autodesk ReCap Photo, available via the Autodesk 360 cloud service, creates high-resolution, textured 3D data from a series of photos taken at different angles around an object. The software leverages the cloud to process and store the photos and data. Unlike 123D Catch, ReCap Photo does not limit the number of photos you can submit, and it processes photos in full resolution for a more accurate 3D model. The geometry generated from the photos is a mesh rather than an ACIS-like solid.
Prior to creating a model, you can adjust settings to control the model-conversion process. The first option is mesh quality: draft, standard, or maximum. The better the mesh you desire, the more time is required to process the data. ReCap Photo provides an estimate of processing time based on your photos and the level of quality you select. In my very unscientific tests, producing a standard mesh took twice as long as draft quality, and maximum quality took approximately five times as long as draft.
A second option specifies the registration of matching points. Use this option to select survey points or reference distances to add scale to your project.
The final option lets you select the images that will be used to generate the texture map for the project. The selected photographs are uploaded to Autodesk cloud servers.
Using ReCap Photo is very easy, provided that you follow some simple but essential guidelines about photographing the object, which can be found in the “Autodesk ReCap Photo Getting Started Guide.” Maintaining consistent camera angle and overlap between each image yields a better model.
A 3D model of a statue created using Autodesk ReCap Photo.
Get started by uploading a series of photos to My Cloud Documents in your Autodesk 360 account. Next, select files to use in creating the 3D model. (For my testing, I used images that Autodesk provided and I created several of my own scenes.)
Click on the Submit Project button to begin converting your photos to a 3D model. Once the scene is created and the model generated, you will receive an e-mail notification with a link to your file.
You can view the finished model directly in your web browser or download it as a ZIP file with any accompanying textures and materials. ReCap Photo lets you save the resulting model to RCS (Autodesk ReCap), FBX (Autodesk), OBJ (Wavefront), or IPM (mobile viewer) format.