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Monday, June 20, 2011

Project Photofly: What You Is See Isn't Always What You Get - It is Alive in the Lab

More cloud mwrvels.

 by Scott Sheppard
Gray metallic sports car
Project Photofly is our technology preview of converting photographs to 3D models. You start with a set of photographs that you load into a Photo Scene Editor – a small application you install on your Windows PC. Using the Photo Scene Editor, you upload the photos to the Project Photofly server. The server then converts the photographs to a 3D photo scene by lining up features in the photographs and returns the photo scene to the Photo Scene Editor running on your computer. From the Photo Scene Editor, you can save the photo scene to your computer in a variety of ways. What you save depends on the format you have chosen.
Menu CommandFormatContents
saveas .3dpThe 3D photo scene contains cameras, reference points, 3D mesh, reference lines, and distance measures. This is the native format for Project Photofly.
export .dwgThe drawing contains reference points and reference lines.
.rziThe ImageModeler file is a subset of the 3dp file based on what was selected at the time the photo scene was exported.
.objThe OBJect file contains the photo textured 3D mesh.
.ipmThe Inventor Publisher Mobile file contains the photo textured 3D mesh and can be viewed with the free Inventor Publisher Viewer available in the Apple iTunes App Store.
.lasThe binary LASer file contains the 3D point cloud that was automatically extracted from the pixels of the source photographs. The LAS file format version is 1.2.
A frequently asked question is why doesn't the DWG contain the mesh data?Director of Autodesk Labs Engineering, Keshav Sahoo, gave me the scoop:
  • Project Photofly v1 populated DWG files with sparse point clouds – sparse in that the point clouds created were only large enough to determine the locations of the cameras. Points that defined the camera locations were not stored in the DWG as true AutoCAD point cloud objects but instead as individual points. This approach was not accurate nor optimal for AutoCAD in terms of memory use.
  • Project Photofly v2 creates very large meshes – sometimes larger than what AutoCAD on a modest computer can handle. Using a true AutoCAD point cloud instead would have been possible, but the Application Program Interface to attach and index the point cloud is on the roadmap for a future AutoCAD release. So what is possible and practical today is for the user to export the point cloud data as a LAS file and then index and attach it to the DWG. The result is more accurate and memory optimal for AutoCAD.
Ladies and gentleman, start your engines. Try it for yourself today.
Project Photofly 2.0
Explaining what's under the hood is alive in the lab.


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