Early Design

Autodesk ReMake Creates 3D Meshes from Reality Capture Data

25 May, 2016 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Cloud-powered solution combines high-definition output with an interface that’s accessible to everyone, including users new to modeling software.

Autodesk released ReMake, née Memento, as a commercial product this week. Tatjana Dzambazova, senior product manager at Autodesk, explained that development of Memento was spurred several years ago by technology trends: “We were seeing that the sensors that can digitize reality were becoming more accessible and affordable.” Those reality-digitization technologies include high-quality photography, laser scanning, and motion sensing systems such as the Microsoft Kinect.

Attendees got a peek at Memento during Autodesk University 2014, where it was touted as consolidating the capabilities of multiple data manipulation tools into a single, easy-to-learn interface. That early description holds true in the finished product, which can be used by professionals with no CAD experience in addition to engineers, architects, and designers. “We wanted a [museum] curator, an artist, a biologist to be able to use it, not just CAD professionals,” said Dzambazova. Autodesk claims that “ReMake’s focused toolset and fun, clean, modern UI [user interface] can be learned in 20 minutes.”

Another aspect of accessibility is the hardware prerequisite: there isn’t one. Thanks to cloud computing, users without workstations can still get the full benefits of the software. “Because ReMake can [perform its computing tasks] locally or on the cloud … you can create a 3D model without having a strong desktop machine,” Dzambazova explained.

These qualities that make ReMake more accessible don’t mean that it’s a consumer- or hobbyist-oriented product, however. “The majority of [ReMake] users are professionals; they just come from a very broad range of industries,” explained Dzambazova. She estimates that 20–30% of those who adopt ReMake will be existing users of CAD and design software, including engineers and architects; 30–50% will be media and entertainment professionals, including augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) content producers; and the remainder of the audience will be employing the technology for diverse applications including medical, artistic, and historic preservation projects.

One application of ReMake is documentation of historically or scientifically significant pieces for education-, preservation-, and restoration-related projects. “We are creating part of a collective memory by saving our heritage,” said Dzambazova. (Click and drag to revolve the model.)

Capturing the Real World(s)

For CAD users, the most obvious applications for ReMake may revolve around reverse engineering parts to form the basis of new designs, and the development team was driven to explore how reality-capture models can lead to better designs. “Can capture be an alternative to design in the future, or at least a good support to design?” Dzambazova asked. “We will not necessarily start from zero with CAD in the future.”

Autodesk expects that models created in ReMake from reality-capture data, like this grinder, will form the basis of new CAD designs. (Click and drag to revolve the model.)

This Autodesk video depicts a modeling workflow incorporating ReMake and Fusion 360.

ReMake, however, can be used for everything from scientific monitoring of changes in coral reefs over time to creating 3D models to verify the dimensions of 3D-printed parts. “We kept the software very open,” said Dzambazova. “We saw that capturing the real world means different things to different people,”

A Full Toolbox

Dzambazova pointed out that ReMake doesn’t introduce a groundbreaking technology. Instead, what’s new about ReMake is the way it aggregates a host of existing capabilities, and integrates them into one product with a user-friendly UI and a streamlined creation process. After ReMake creates its high-definition 3D meshes from laser-scan data or sequences of photographs, users can perform any of the following processes on those meshes:

  • Clean up
  • Fix
  • Edit
  • Scale
  • Measure
  • Re-topologize
  • Decimate
  • Align
  • Compare
  • Optimize for downstream workflows.

Making 3D models that are “useful for real life” — ready for 3D printing, CNC machining, etc. — used to present a challenge, said Dzambazova. “The process to make those models was so complex,” she noted, because users “needed to know how to use high-end software.” With ReMake, she asserts, that hurdle is removed, making the entirety of the process accessible to users with a wider range of technical expertise.

The Challenge of Size

A primary obstacle in making a 3D model from reality-capture data is the sheer volume of data involved. “It can be millions of polygons, and no CAD software is designed in a way that can consume that,” said Dzambazova. Instead of bogging down under that burden, ReMake can visualize and edit meshes of as many as 2 or 3 billion polygons, “which is unheard of,” said Dzambazova. “ReMake is built to accept sensor data that is super, super dense,” she explained. “It can make a multibillion-polygon mesh super small … but not lose the level of detail.”

Despite the similarity of the names, ReMake is not to be confused with Autodesk ReCap 360, which focuses on point clouds and larger-scale projects, such as digitizing factory layouts and building sites. “We realized that not everybody needs a mesh,” said Dzambazova. “For certain use cases, point cloud data is good enough.” The two applications can be used in tandem, however, with ReMake helping to repair and optimize assets for downstream use.

Pricing and Availability

ReMake is launching on Windows only, but a Mac version is in the works. ReMake is offered in Free and Pro versions; the latter costs $20 per month or $190 per year. A free trial is available for immediate download from Autodesk.

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