Autodesk to take next step in the automatic creation of 3D models from photographs

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A Nike sneaker recreated as a mesh in Photofly – as previewed at Autodesk University in December 2010

Next Thursday Autodesk is due to update The Photo Scene Editor for Project Photofly, one of the most exciting technology previews we’ve seen on its Labs website.

For those that don’t know, Project Photofly automatically converts photographs shot around an object or a scene into a 3D model. This new version will be able to create textured meshes rather than just point clouds.

As the processing requirements are quite big, it’s all done in the cloud. All the user needs to do is upload the photos – in no particular order – and those powerful cloud computers will do the rest. At least that’s the theory. While the technology demos look pretty amazing, there’s a good chance some manual intervention will be required, though editing scenes by stitching in new pics or re-stitching others seems quite straightforward.

There are many uses for this tech in the architectural engineering construction sector, but the big news for readers of DEVELOP3D is that the new tech preview will be able to export models to Inventor Publisher Mobile Viewer. This will enable models to be viewed and manipulated in 3D on the iPhone and iPad.

Files can also be exported to the OBJ format, which can be read in my many 3D packages, sometimes with a plug-in.

The applications for reverse engineering could be big, possibly just as a communication aid to help obtain quotes from overseas suppliers, but with claimed accuracy between 1:100 and 1:1000, the use of extremely high-res digital cameras could deliver some pretty accurate models. If you try out the tech, we’d love to hear your experiences.


Personally I can’t wait to try out the more fun side of Project Photofly. My nephew and niece don’t know this yet, but they’re going to be my first project for sure.