Sunday, 9 October 2011

Digbeth project- Autodesk Photofly!

With regards to the planned 'Digbeth street' backgrounds for our animation, we have discussed several different methods for creating them with varying opinions on what is best. Recently however, we discovered a new technology currently in the testing phase by Autodesk; ‘Project Photofly’. Photofly is a new program operating with cloud servers, with incredible potential in the 3D animation and video games industries. In short, the program will automatically create a photorealistic textured 3D model made of point cloud data (check out the video below of Euclideon's 'Unlimited Detail Technology' for an idea of how this could work in the industry!), based solely on a series of photographs that show the object from multiple angles. With the technology having been demonstrated for buildings, we wondered if we would be able to utilise it to create a 3D model of a portion of Digbeth, to create a CG moving background behind our walking person.

Here are a few examples of models featured on YouTube. Of course, I couldn't upload too many examples, so try searching YouTube to see loads more amazing 3D models! Better yet, the trial is free, so head on over to the Autodesk Labs site and sign up now!

And lastly, here is the aforementioned 'Unlimited Detail Technology' video, courtesy of Euclideon. Personally, I can't wait to see this implemented in games:

Thinking about it, Photofly ties in quite nicely with the talk on 'fiction and non-fiction' graphics from Euclideon (5.52 in the video above!). Perhaps the two technologies will work together in the future?

Sadly, there is a downside. Promptly, we signed up to trial Photofly, and were amazed by the batch of sample files that Autodesk have provided. On testing with our own custom photographs however, we discovered that (unfortunately) it really didn’t work as well as we had hoped. The models that returned were incomplete, the servers not recognising many of the images, leading to a great deal of bad geometry. This is not to say that Photofly is bad- I still think it has amazing potential, and the wealth of models that can be found on YouTube prove that it does indeed work very well, just not all the time. Understandable with a test product, and I cannot wait for the technology to be developed further and perfected. For now however, we cannot afford to rely on temperamental software to create our animation.

On a separate note, I do still intend to play around with Photofly when I get some spare time! I am a keen model maker, and having an archive of digital versions of my hand-made models seems too amazing to pass up! Check back as I'll be updating my blog regularly again from now on, and I'll be sure to post videos of any successful Photofly models as and when they're completed.  


  1. Thanks for your review. How you take the pictures greatly affects your chance for success.

  2. You're welcome! I have tried to follow the shooting guidelines as best as I can, making sure that I capture the objects at roughly ten degree intervals from all angles.

    I am wondering whether lighting could be my problem- the photos I have tried so far were all taken in my living room under artificial lights. I'm busy with work at the moment, but like I said in my post, I cannot wait to try Photofly again!

    Next time, I will make sure I have strong consistent lighting and try my best to have a blank background behind the object I'm trying to capture. Hopefully this will work better.

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