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ReCap Photo: from drones and laser scans to 3D models

ReCap Photo is a powerful service you may want to consider adding to your BIM toolkit if you work with drones and laser scans in construction and engineering. Read on for a run-down of its core capabilities.

ReCap Photo is a tool for 3D reality capture through photogrammetry, developed by Autodesk. This tool is included in ReCap Pro. This means, if you have ReCap Pro, you also have ReCap Photo. The software automatically processes drone photography and laser scans to create 3D models that can be exported to many other software suites. It also supports the creation of orthophotos, point clouds and meshes.

The history of ReCap Photo

The earliest version of ReCap Photo was called Project Momento. This product was the first attempt by Autodesk to create a photogrammetry tool from scratch. It was available for PC and Mac. Whilst both versions offered cloud processing, only the PC version offered local processing. The project came out of the beta version in early 2017 and rebranded to ReMake.

ReMake was launched as a standalone photogrammetry tool for capturing objects and small environments. The free version of ReMake would allow you to process up to 50 photos for free. If you wanted more you needed to upgrade to a paid subscription with ReMake Pro. This would give you unlimited local processing of photos. However, if you wanted to use Autodesk’s cloud processing, you would have to purchase additional cloud credits on top of the paid subscription. On top of the photogrammetry features, ReMake had innovative tools for editing meshes.

But less than a year after launching ReMake, the software was discontinued by Autodesk. The California-based company decided to move its photogrammetry software under the umbrella of ReCap Pro. Together with this movement, they decided to rebrand the software to ReCap Photo. A key difference between ReMake and ReCap Photo is the aerial imagery processing. This innovative addition is great if you work with drones.

ReCap Photo, the way forward for drones and laser scans in construction

Currently, there is no option to get ReCap Photo without ReCap Pro. So if you think ReCap Photo will be a great addition to your BIM toolkit, you will have to get a paid ReCap Pro subscription. Luckily for architects, engineers, surveyors and contractors, ReCap Pro is also a great tool for capturing and processing data with drones and laser scans on site. Unfortunately, other industries like 3D animation and game design may not need the reality capture tools included in ReCap Pro. In fact, there are several groups asking Autodesk to provide a standalone version of ReCap Photo.

On top of paying the paid subscription of ReCap Pro, you will still need to buy cloud credits for processing the images, since ReCap Photo does not support local processing on your machine. After uploading the images, ReCap Photo will do all the hard work in the background with their cutting-edge algorithms. Then, you can effortlessly create and edit meshes from the 3D models generated. The subscription gives you access to great mesh editing tools, including basic sculpting, hole filling, boundary smoothing, bridging and the very easy-to-use slice tool.

From orthophotos and 3D models to digital twins

ReCap Photo also offers unique export features that can decimate the high-resolution mesh while generating normal and displacement maps at the same time. These export features are extremely useful for virtual reality and augmented reality applications. It even includes quick export pre-sets for popular game engines like Unreal. For engineers and contractors, it can generate orthophotos of construction sites to use as backgrounds project plans. It can also export 3D models to be used in BIM models within Revit and Civil 3D, for example. You can bring your 3D models to pretty much any third party software thanks to the export file format options OBJ, FBX and STL.

In summary, ReCap Photo allows you to take pictures on site with a drone, a laser scan or even a smartphone, put them together and create orthophotos and 3D models with a few clicks. It really represents a game-changer for BIM projects and can play a key role in the creation of digital twins.

Have you used ReCap Photo? Let us know what you think about it in the comments below!

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