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Project Photofly | More Robust Functionality Please

Project Photofly Manual Stitch PointsI love the enhancements Autodesk has made in the arena of smaller scaled photogrametry software, namely Autodesk Labs’ Project Photofly, the Photo Scene Editor. As a general photo-modeling application it’s great. It’s so simple to use, and their servers do the work. Fantastic.

I was asked to do a review of Photofly for a group, and while the evaluations are still ongoing, I have compiled a growing list of things that I feel should be added to the user interface and software functionality. I would definitely designate these as “Advanced’ features, however having had many of these robust professional features available in Photomodeler, I totally miss them here.

 

Linked list of photos containing point ‘x’

While working you may find that certain points are problematic, or you have decided to move that point over to a nearby feature that is better defined. You have to scroll through all the images in order to find each instance of that point.

A contextual menu item for each point allowing you to ‘List all images’ that contain the focus point. You might then navigae to any image by picking form the filtered list.

Filter Thumbnails

A mini toolbar next to the thumbnail list that would allow a user to filter the thumbnails by various property criteria, including the previous item (filter by point in image). An adjacent button would edit groups, and another button would clear all filters.

Scrollable zoom anywhere

The scrollable zoom functionality while stitching points is so nice. A simple toolbar (and hotkey) function would be nice to use in ANY image view. Why? It would be very nice to be able to find photo identifiable control without having to load the stitch images screens, and then set a point that you didn’t want to set in order to get the scrollable zoom. This procedure often screws something up.

Point sidebar with functionality

A sidebar with the points listed, including properties such as description and additional navigation options.

Point convergence report

A report of the last point convergence, with X Y Z and combined deltas for each point.  This is a fast way to determine points and/or photos that are killing the model accuracy.

Common feature identification

A tool that could approximate common features within images once a certain amount of accuracy was developed. This would likely give poor suggestions and lousy accuracy, but in many cases it would help people whittle down the list of images containing the all important overlapping fields of view.

Find duplicated points

A simple utility that would find points that were likely created to be common, but that do not share the same identification number. This would simply search Cartesian coordinates for X, Y, and Z values that are tolerably the same. The utility might then give the option to make all this number, that number, ignore duplicates, or delete duplicates.

Suggest points in region

A tool that could suggest points that exist in the same region (as the cursor) that are found on other images. This would preclude scrolling image after image in order to find a point that you know you already set.

Edit Point Identification / Description in stitch mode

Often we have found that we have botched the stitching and placed a point where another identification has already been established. It would be nice to be able to change the identification of any point in an image.

Point Enhancements

Identification enhancement including hover tooltip, descriptions, and adjustable label sizes. The Autodesk Inventor Sketch Constraint sizing functionality might be ideal.

Scroll / Stitch to image by number

I have a lot of images, and I’d like to be able to get to a specific one by number. When I was last stitching, I noticed a problem with image ‘X’. I have to get out of the stitching tools, scroll the thumbnails (that don’t display a number until you put the cursor on them) and then re-enter the stitch tools.

Additionally it would be nice to bypass the scroll / Identify / Stitch navigation and simply enter stitch by image number directly

Optional Point overlay on main image frame

It would be nice to be able to turn on the points no matter where you are, kind of like the scrollable zoom topic abover.

Manual Stitch / check stitched points hotkey

A hotkey for Manual Stitch functionality. When the application gets bogged down, which is quite often, you have to wait for the context menu. A hotkey would be faster and safer. (I can explain safer is anyone wants to know).

Conclusion

First – Thanks to Autodesk Labs

Autodesk Labs Peeps, I wanted to say that I love the suggest points feature that takes you to the next likely image where the focused point is visible. Very nice.

Second – Fix that Damn Auto-Unstitch / Idiot Function

I have had some images that are unstable and need love, and while trying to get the thing corrected, the software unstitches the entire image, and adds the the instability of other images that I was already having trouble with. “One Light Goes Out, and They All Go Out”. Give me the option to STOP and UNDO the last thing I did that hosed it all up. Often I was trying to move a bad point over to the correct location. The move, which often gets temporarily dragged into a completely erroneous region (getting to the correct location), causes a complete fault. Just give me the option to go back a step.

I may find additional items as time goes on, however I thought this list would be a great improvement. Many are from experiences with other software and applications, and just feel like an intuitive workflow requirement. Some come from the experiment that I am working with now. Should this experiment fail miserably, some items on my list would no longer seem quite so important.  We’ll see.

  • http://labs.blogs.com/ Scott Sheppard

    Thank you for your thorough review and thoughtful suggestions. This is what technology previews are all about. We can consider your feedback as we move forward.

  • Mike Leinback

    I have seen a lot about the preferred methodology for shooting photographs of the subject. Would it be a valid approach to shoot a video and to then extract frames as individual images?

  • http://johnevansdesign.net/about/ John Evans

    Autodesk says that while it’s possible, there are many factors that can be problematic. Generally speaking as long as your focal length stays constant, it would probably work. Focus would be a pain.
    Additionally, Autodesk recommends no more than 40 images total. I’m experimenting with a load more due to the complexity of the model, but I doubt it will make much difference.
    When I get the experiment done I’ll write it all up for GrabCAD. I will say this, if you are to work with anything obscure that you just cant get all angles on, evaluate all angle first, and then find some very prominent points that you can see from 25% of your images, and ensure that those points are high contrast. When you take your pictures, try to make sure those points are reasonably well focused.
    Good Luck

3 Responses to Project Photofly | More Robust Functionality Please

  1. Thank you for your thorough review and thoughtful suggestions. This is what technology previews are all about. We can consider your feedback as we move forward.

  2. Mike Leinback says:

    I have seen a lot about the preferred methodology for shooting photographs of the subject. Would it be a valid approach to shoot a video and to then extract frames as individual images?

  3. John Evans says:

    Autodesk says that while it’s possible, there are many factors that can be problematic. Generally speaking as long as your focal length stays constant, it would probably work. Focus would be a pain.
    Additionally, Autodesk recommends no more than 40 images total. I’m experimenting with a load more due to the complexity of the model, but I doubt it will make much difference.
    When I get the experiment done I’ll write it all up for GrabCAD. I will say this, if you are to work with anything obscure that you just cant get all angles on, evaluate all angle first, and then find some very prominent points that you can see from 25% of your images, and ensure that those points are high contrast. When you take your pictures, try to make sure those points are reasonably well focused.
    Good Luck