When Autodesk released 123D Catch for iOS more than a year ago, I was thrilled and thought that it would be the key to making 3D printing accessible to the mainstream. If you could just take a series of pictures and have a high-resolution 3D model stitched together for you, you’d be one step away from 3D printing a replica of any object. Then, I downloaded the app and found that the whole thing was *apply whiny voice* too hard. There was too much post-processing to be done to get a useable 3D model and I had to actually go back and pick through my photos to give the app the appropriate information to render something accurate. It’s like, ugh, can’t you do all the work for me?? Well, since my baby cry fest, Autodesk has released an update to 123D Catch that, while it doesn’t completely allow me to revel in my laziness, brings us one step closer to quick and easy 3D scans.
After using the app (without reading up on what the updates are), I noticed one significant improvement. Aside from an increased speed in the app’s overall performance, they’ve introduced two little icons that I wouldn’t have thought would make the process of photographic scanning so much easier. The first is a little picture of a shaky iPhone that lets you know when you’re moving too much to take a decent picture. The second is a set of two circles made up of little sections. These tell you from which angle you still need to take photos of an object and when you’re angled appropriate to snap them.
So I started photographing stuff (my wife, her dad’s guitar) and sent them up to the cloud for processing. When I picked up my phone about ten minutes later, I realized something amazing about the stitching process: it’s automatic! You no longer have to tell 123D Catch what to do, how to clean up your model, etc. The model of my wife didn’t turn out so great because I didn’t have enough room to move around her. Still, 123D Catch managed to separate her from the background. If I had done a better job, I believe that the model would have been perfect. And, while I messed up capturing the guitar – due to the same lack of space – the app captured the entire room. The result is really impressive:
Also new to the app is the ability to capture up to 70 photos — upgraded from 40, I believe — so that you can cover your object even more fully.123D Catch is also able to process higher resolution photos for better models. They’ve developed some other features that are less impressive, like “advanced” image galleries that preview models as 3D objects, rather than flat images, and the ability to follow other photographers, adding a predictable social aspect to the app. You can watch 123D Catch in marketing form below:
I may not be happy with myself as a photographer, but I’m definitely psyched about this improvement in Autodesk’s update to their groundbreaking app.