3D Imaging Software: Open source or ‘try before you buy’?
By Matt Faber on Monday 12 May 2014 Tweet this!
A few 3D imaging tools quickly reviewed.
Photo by Matt Faber. Copyright Jisc
When looking to initiate a 3D digitisation project one of the first considerations is always going to be the budget. As there will always be tight financial constraints, it can make spending decisions quite difficult, especially when some elements, such as hardware, can be exorbitantly expensive. 3D imaging software can be very expensive as well but there are alternatives which can either provide a free introduction to 3D digitisation or a cost effective ‘try before you buy’ option which might allow a project the opportunity to make an informed decision before making the investment.
There are many 3D digitisation software packages available, working in conjunction with different technologies such as structured light scanning or photogrammetry, whilst at the same time providing different tools and varying functionality. However, the four software packages listed here are either open source or provide a demo version which is fully functional except for the ‘save’ option. For an organisation considering embarking on their first 3D digitisation project, these software packages can provide them with a useful introduction to this often confusing subject.
SketchUp is actually an isometric CAD package with 3D modelling functionality. It doesn’t provide the facility to create and work with images of real world objects but does provide an easy and accessible introduction into 3D modelling.
Photomodeler is a commercial 3D imaging software package which relies on photogrammetry to create fully functional, rotational images of real world objects. The software requires the user to create their own point cloud manually which then enables the software to ‘stitch’ the images together which can be quite a timely process. Although Photomodeler is a paid for product, it does have a free demo version.
Agisoft is a similar product to Photomodeler in that it produces fully rotational 3D images of real world objects using photogrammetry. However, having imported a selection of photographic images it automatically generates a point cloud which is then used to create the texture layer. It is an easy software package to get to grips with and offers a free download demo version.
Seene is a new Iphone app which is currently offered as a consumer level novelty entity. However, it is interesting to note that something of such complexity as photogrammetry is now freely available on your smartphone which might suggest that 3D digitisation is fast becoming as accessible to digitisation projects as normal photography.