Friday, May 9, 2008

Autodesk Acquires Photogrammetry software, REALVIZ

It seems Autodesk is out shopping again, with an anouncement to acquire MoldFlow last week, and this week the news that it is acquiring REALVIZ, out of Sophia Antipolis, France.

According to Autodesk’s Press release about REALVIZ, the company provides “efficient ways to generate 3D content and visual effects from photo imaging and 2D environments.” or in other words, Photogrammetry. This discipline is pretty cool – the basis is of it is that using a scanned photo, or set of photos, you can pretty quickly create 3D points that in turn become a 3D model. This type of technology is used a lot in architecture, film graphics and gaming. The products also deliver motion capture and panoramic photo stitching. Already the products on realViz’ web site have been renamed with Autodesk’s monniker, and the company intends to continue to sell REALVIZ’s Stitcher Unlimited, Stitcher Express, ImageModeler and Movimento software as standalone products.

However, the Matchmover, Retimer and VTour products will no longer be available as standalone products but will be developed as core technology into future versions of Autodesk’s existing products.

The following REALVIZ offerings have been discontinued: Stitcher Pro, Stitcher Unlimited DS, and StoryViz. Education versions of ImageModeler and Stitcher continue to be available. Student versions of ImageModeler and Stitcher are no longer available. The terms of the acquisition have not been revealed.

So is this ‘photogrammetry comes of age?’ Probably not…yet. This niche discipline (focused on architecture, ‘shape capture’, entertainment etc) has only a few players including Eos Systems’ Photomodeler, and PhotoPlan from Latimer CAD Ltd (a product that only supports AutoCAD) (Photogrammetry is used much more widely in GIS and mapping but that is not what these products aim at.) Photogrammetry is an important, but small, aspect for architectural projects that use existing structures, and for surveying buildings, in forensic projects, and its value in film graphics and game development is unquestioned. But we don’t see this as a sign of the market maturing:- there are way too many other potential uses for this that have not been fuly explored and exploited including rapid (and affordable) reverse engineering and ‘shape capture’ of products directly into 3D CAD. Since REALVIZ was purchased by Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment division, we suspect that reverse engineering of products using photogrammetry is not on Autodesk’s radar screen.

REALVIZ’ 3D format support is listed as: Maya, 3ds Max, DWG, Lightwave, Softimage, OBJ, WRML and Google Earth and we suspect that they will keep this support even now they are Autodesk poducts. I doubt that the support will widen any. By contrast, PhotoModeler has a much wider 3D CAD format support including IGES, STEP, STL, DXF, Rhino, and then Maya, 3DS, FDX, OBJ and Google Earth. Does this matter? if you use non-Autodesk products, then yes, it does.

Posted by The 3D Team in 21:08:05

One Response to “Autodesk Acquires Photogrammetry software, REALVIZ”

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