• Price: £489 plus VAT

  • Company: Realviz

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

ImageModeler 3.5 extracts 3D information from multiple photographs of the same object, and creates accurate 3D polygon mesh models with a photorealistic texture. These can be exported to conventional 3D applications for refinement and integration with other elements. This latest release costs only £489, and is initially available only for Mac G4s with OS X. A Windows XP/2000 version is due, with both versions in the same box. ImageModeler fits in with the rest of RealViz’s suite of ‘image-based content’ applications, such as MatchMover (which matches camera movements in the real and virtual worlds), Stitcher (for multi-image panoramas), and SceneWeaver (which places interactive 3D models into perspective position in panoramas). ImageModeler 3.5 will also appear in a Mac/Windows version of the RealViz Interactive Studio bundle (previously Windows only), together with Stitcher and SceneWeaver. However, ImageModeler stands up in its own right as a tool for quickly creating accurate 3D models of real-world objects with the impression of complex textures, without having to go through the lengthy process of actually building fully detailed models from scratch. ImageModeler in use
Apart from Mac compatibility, new features include a revised, easier-to-learn user interface with tabbed step-by-step workflows; editable tool properties; working planes and snap-to constraints; a Create Primitive tool for interactive placement; Glue Vertices to combine several vertices; Merge Faces (likewise); and angle and distance measurements. A big advantage of ImageModeler is that it is self-calibrating. You import the digitized pics into ImageModeler and manually select around seven to 12 matching points in three or four of the images, after which the application automatically sorts out the calibration. You can then add further information such as identifying true right angle, vertical or horizontal lines. If you enter one known measurement, you can measure any other element in the scene. The underlying model mesh shapes can be based on fairly simple primitives (cubes, spheres, circles, and so on), as the photographic textures give an illusion of great detail, provided you choose your viewing angle with care. More complex meshes can be built from a series of primitives linked together. Primitives and faces can be edited into more complex shapes, while irregular or organic meshes can be generated from a ‘point cloud’ of matching points in each image. Mesh generation is the most complex aspect, – and the tutorial provided is too basic. You can choose which originals to use for texture generation. Textures can also be exported as 2D image files, cleaned up in Photoshop, and then re-imported. 3D-export options cover the main formats (though the mainly Mac formats 4D and 3DMF are missing), plus Shockwave and VRML for Web publishing. ImageModeler 3.5 isn’t quite as sophisticated as its main competitor, Eos Systems’ £595 PhotoModeler Pro (especially in its forthcoming 5.0 revision), but it’s cheaper, easier to learn, and now runs on Macs.