03 December 2012

Back to 3D

I did a little experimenting with some 3D after Christmas 2010 when my son (not me, I swear) got an XBox with Kinect. Fun, but labor-intensive, as the tools were still fairly unpolished, especially for the non-programmer. (Search for posts with the Kinect label.) Then a month or two ago, I started getting into it again, thinking about how I could use it on the dig, and including some research into various other kinds of photography. I was looking at the freeware stuff (like VisualSFM), which now looks pretty good, but still wasn't quite working on my MacBook. Then I got into using Homebrew instead of MacPorts, and one thing led to another and I got busy with other stuff (like my actual day job).

Then a few weeks ago, my friend and colleague Sebastian Heath started tweeting a bit about stuff he was doing in 3D, using the inexpensive (but not free) AgiSoft PhotoScan. Looked pretty good, and he poked me a bit about not writing up what I was doing, so here I am.

Well, almost here. I bought the software today and spent a little time with it and my iPhone. My first test model was a head of Michelangelo's David, which graces a column in my living room, but that turned out to be a bit shiny, so I moved on to another iconic figure who makes an annual appearance in the house. I snapped 14 photos of him, not quite going all the way around. Then I tested it out in PhotoScan using the speedy low-res settings and since that looked good, I cranked it up to 11 to come up with a fairly nice model, especially given how lazy I was about it. A still image is to the right. Click to enlarge. You can mostly read the numbers of the various pockets (though that's a 6, not a 5 right in the front) and the detail isn't bad. The whole thing took a little over an hour to render and then I moved it into MeshLab, smoothed it out, and exported.

As I said, more soon. I'm hoping to have some fun over Christmas break on our visit to the in-laws.