Autodesk Recap Photo – part of Recap Pro

This is a much underrated product in the AEC community but it has its strengths and is great for those that need good results that can be exported into most mesh formats.

Ok it costs £42 a month as a subscription to Recap Pro which also handles registering of laserscan data from many manufacturers. With this you get a certain amount of Cloud credit for processing your images or pointclouds into mesh models. This is not great as at last check 1 cloud credit was $1 and upto 300 photos will cost you 12 credits so even though you pay that £42 a month, every project will cost you between £10 to £50 depending on how many images you use.

This brings me on to the next issue, Photo models or closeups can only be 20-300 images and UAV / Drone Models can only be derived from a maximum of 1000 images. Considering photogrammetry tends to need at least a 30% overlap of image data to create tie points between images, you are not going to cover a great deal of area for you £50.

Ok thats the negative and why it quite rightly gets a slam from the AEC community over the costs but there are so many good things about it like:-

  • It is fairly accurate time after time
  • You only need a standard cheap laptop so there is a cost saving.
  • It has a simple GUI system to upload your project images to the cloud and download the result.
  • Once uploaded to the cloud, you no longer need to tie up your computer with processing images to models and can get on with other aspects of your business which is the strength of cloud based solutions as if you stop work, you probably lose 5 or 6 times more money than the processing cost but if it is not as expected then you have to pay again to process another project – no refunds for bad models.
  • You can optimize the export format of the model to many bits of software including Blender so no lock into autodesk products.
  • Autodesk supports students and education facilities with free access to many of their products on a Education Licence.
  • It ties in seamlessly with other Autodesk software like Maya and 3DS which are used extensively within many Industries so it adds to a great workflow.

There is also a 30 day trial available on Autodesk products so it is worth trying out for yourself.

On test it produced a model better than that of non CUDA Open source software to the extent of picking out the Cigarette Butts that had been discarded in the trough which is pretty good for that set of images. Please have a look at the video below which illustrates what you can expect. Do also note how much extra background imagery has been converted too.

I did also like how it computed a bottom for the trough even though there were no deliberate images of the bottom. 

 

 

For a complete look at this software go to Autodesk Recap Page

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3DF Zephyr Photogrammetry

Ok so we keep running into that NVIDEA CUDA requirement but a vast amount of laptops only have intel or AMD graphics. This is a big problem but hey there is 3DF Zephyr which is free for personal use and is not too expensive if you go pro.

First of all the free version is only allowing 50 pictures or frames but its enough to learn and if you need more then 150 euros gets you the next level for up to 500 images or frames. The next two pricing tiers turn this software into a onestop shop for all photogrammetry and laserscan processing but it would need trialing well to warrant the expense.

Here though we are testing the basic free version on a Win10 laptop with an intel I5-4310 2.6GHz CPU with 8GB of Ram and Intel 4000 Graphics.

The Pictures have been taken with a Nikon D3200 DSLR 24 Megapixel which has now been replaced by the D3500 and can be seen here on amazon.

Ok so while typing, I have been processing a batch of photos of a memorial Trough in 3DF Zephyr (free). It took about 5 mins to install from the website https://www.3dflow.net/3df-zephyr-free/

Once installed Click File -> New Project

This will open a dialogue to upload pictures or video, remember free version is limited to 50 frames or pictures so if using a video capture camera, maximise your settings for quality as you want the most ammount of pixels in your frame. Even still you are likely to get less than 12 frames per second (standard is 24fps) so at slowest it is about 4 seconds of video. Alternatively there are many open source programs or free to use like VLC or OpenShot that will convert your video to images but some have had issues with the correct codec being recognised from their device which then requires the video converting in handbrake first but there is alway free video to JPG Converter which will work on most codecs and is simple to use although I did lose all EXIF and GPS data when I tried it. This can be a problem if creating automated Geolocated point clouds or mesh, which will require manual geolocation.

Once the images have been selected,you need to tell the software how they were taken, I took these stnading up in an Urban environment so I selected Urban with standard everything. I then click next and select what the output process will be, I selected everything as I want to export a mesh for modelling so I have to have a Dense Point cloud first. Then hit Run which is at the top of the page.

Needless to say it took a while, approx 1.5 hours, but was fully automated. I did note that it took 85% disk buffer and kept peaking out at 100% memory and CPU. Even though, it only used 15 images (called Cameras) out of the 30 selected images. This has led to issues with the final render but the below is the video of Generated Sparse Point Cloud, Dense Point Cloud, Mesh, Textured Mesh.

The results Were good considering it did not use any of the images from the back side so I think the next thing to try is a video and select the images more carefully from that.

I hope this was a good intro to 3DF Zephyr and lets try and find out how to improve the reliability of completed model output. I believe that it is in the technique so shall devote a little time to this and share when I have the answer / method.

Meshroom Photogrammetry

2019 – What a wonderful year for Photogrammetry. Not only have we had great advances in hardware like UAV’s but also the long awaited Meshroom hit the web in open source format using the AliceVision framework.

This means that the little person can use a good piece of software to create mesh models from pictures – providing that the camera is good enough.

For too long we have had to either pay heavy amounts of money or use command line for any power processing photogrammetry projects but now this promisses to change all that witha full professional GUI and DOPE editor combined with the SFM AliceVision System.

Obviously we need to convince big business that open source is worth supporting so please all spread the word.

Over the Next few days I will be trialling the software and upload some samples and if it produces great results, like they have, we will use it for creating open source models to share so watch this space and lets reduce that modelling time for games.

Here is to Hope but if you want to investigate yourself then please look at their website https://alicevision.github.io/#