With all the buzz around Autodesk Photofly 2.1 lately, I wanted to see what I could do with it. So, I went to Autodesk Labs and let the action begin. Photofly gives users the ability to use digital photos to create 3D models. I always tell customers how this is a great tool...but, I thought it would be wise to actually use it. You know, so I actually know what I am talking about.
One of the things that I think Photofly is great for is grabbing 'as built' information on a facility and/or equipment. I wanted to really see what it would take to capture something in Photofly, and get it to a model. I had a few initial challenges. 1) I don't have a manufacturing facility or milling machine at my house 2) a lot of customers don't have high end DSLR cameras at the ready. With that in mind, I decided to use my standard point-and-shoot digital camera...and grab some images of my Suburban (it is big enough to represent a machine...or a facility, I suppose).
So, I backed the Suburban out of the driveway and started taking pictures. 145 snapshots later, I figured I had all the data I needed. As a side note: this is a great way to have your neighbors think you are nuts.
With all my pictures taken, I fired up Photofly. Inside of Photofly, you simply select all the photos you want to be processed and upload them. In Photofly terms, this is 'Create' and 'Compute'.
As the pictures are being uploaded and processed into a scene, you can choose to watch the progress bars, or have Photofly e-mail you when it is done. This is one of my favorite options...there is nothing worse than watching progress bars.
And now for the first lesson I learned using Photofly: I tried to capture way too much detail. Photofly processed the images pretty quickly. But, when it was done it was difficult to get all the images properly positioned together (mainly, because a lot of my images were too close and didn't overlap enough). Here is a quick sampling of part of the rear end.
So, what does this really mean? Well, in simple terms: I could have designated all the overlap points in all the images. As I stated earlier, I just captured too much detail in too small of images. In lieu of re-shooting all the pictures in a thunderstorm, I decided to take images of something else in my office to prove this out in short order....I will continue to do the Suburban since I think it will be fun to complete.
So, I took out my 3DConnexions SpacePilot Pro and started taking more pictures. This time I took pictures of the entire model, and ensured they overlapped (see, I do try to get smarter from my mistakes).
I followed the same procedure as before: Create and Compute scene. When this one was done, there was much less alignment to do with the images.
To finalize the scene, you simply double-click on the images with warning symbols and help Photofly with the overlap alignment. And, by the way, Photofly couldn't make this any easier to do with the 'Manual Stitch' mode.
Once the Manual Stitching is complete, the scene can be re-submitted for additional Computing. In addition, the Mesh settings can be refined further to get a nice result. Here is what my SpacePilot Pro looked like after just one round of Manual Stitching and bumping the Mesh up to 'Standard'.
Just imagine if I had used a DSLR camera and went through even more mesh refinement. I am glad I went through this. Now I have a lot more ideas of how to approach capturing my Suburban. I will keep everyone up to date on how that project goes (I will need the rain to stop here in Cleveland first though).
I know you will be waiting with bated breath. In the mean time, go download Autodesk Photofly 2.1 and give it a try yourself...I hope you already learned a bit from my mistakes.