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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Project Photofly: Ready for TED

BIM -It is Alive in the Lab


Project Photofly is our technology preview of turning sets of 20 to 40 photographs into a 3D model. The real intent of this technology is for capturing as-built reality for serious endeavors like renovation, rapid energy analysis, add-on design, or historic preservation. You can read more about in on the Autodesk Labs site:

Project Photofly v2.0 on Autodesk Labs

As long as we have the technology, fun is not out of the question. With this in mind when we demonstrated Project Photofly at Autodesk University, we had visitors sit in a chair, we took their pictures, and Project Photofly created 3D models of their heads.

Rob from TechSoft3D

We purposely used a human and a regular point-and-shoot camera to show that special hardware was not required. The average consumer could do this.

The AU experience was so popular, we wanted to add a Project Photofly exhibit to our Autodesk Gallery at One Market. Rather than involve one of us having to take the pictures, we built a rig to hold 14 cameras and connected everything with a red box that we design in Inventor Fusion and printed on a 3D printer. The user sits down, 14 pictures get taken at once, and Project Photofly does the rest.

TED (technology, entertainment, design) Global is July 11-15 in Edinburgh, Scotland (more info). We developed a new rig as our "road show" version of Project Photofly. This one has 20 cameras.


The user: enters his email address, uses facial recognition software on a Kinect to position his head in the right spot, holds still, and 20 pictures get taken. Like before Project Photofly does the rest.

The camera to PC connections all go through a "clear box" that can actually support up to 32 cameras.


Autodesk Labs VP, Brian Mathews, actually designed and 3D printed this one at TechShop in San Francisco. Brian will be manning the Project Photofly booth at TED. Autodesk Labs Marketing Director, Dominique Pouliquen, will be joining him.

To get this ready for travel, we had to pack up the cameras.


There are actually 2 rows on cameras with padding in between so all 22 fit in one case. I got to create the padding layout using punch-out foam pads. It was actually quite therapeutic. The rig uses 20 cameras for now, but we are bringing 22 to have 2 spares.

It was quite fun to lay out everything and make sure we had 22 of each.


As this has to go through customs, Gallery Curator, Jason Medal-Katz, prepared a manifest.


The most complicated part of Project Photofly is packing and unpacking. Using the Autodesk Cloud to create models from photographs is a snap – relatively speaking.

Traveling is alive in the Lab.


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