By Dan Ablan Macworld.com | on March 29, 2010
Price: $485 (around £330)
Pros: Creates 3D models from standard digital camera files; easy to use; includes Photoshop plug-in.
Cons: Export formats limited to VRML or 3DS; expensive.
Strata Foto 3D CX2 allows you to generate a model from a photograph for use in a 3D suite, such as Strata 3D CX or another 3D application. The process is simple, and you begin by taking a series of photos of the object. The photos of all sides of the object can be shot on a rotating pedestal or even by hand. The more images you have – and there should be at least 15 – the more accurate the resulting model.
When you install Strata Foto 3D CX, you can print a special calibration mat using the Print Mat button. This is placed flat underneath your object. Once the photos are taken, you can load them into the Foto 3D, which will automatically mask the images, so it's a good idea to shoot the model on a plain or neutral backdrop. The next step is wireframe generation, which automatically optimizes and builds the 3D mesh based on the masked photographs. You can determine the amount of detail as needed.
After the mesh has been created, Strata Foto 3D CX builds the texture. The texture of course, comes from the original images. Textures can be edited by copying the project from Foto 3D into a program like Adobe Photoshop. It's also possible to manually add different textures. Foto 3D makes it easy to automatically align images with the Alight Image option. The result is a textured, 3D model.
What's also cool about Foto 3D is that the program allows you to integrate Photoshop into your workflow. This is done through an included plug-in that makes data exchange between the programs seamless. With version 2, you can send models back and forth between Foto 3D and Photoshop.
Once the model is created, you can export it and use it in just about any 3D application. While the export function is a bit limiting, allowing only VRML or 3DS versions to be saved out, the files do load into other 3D applications with the automatically generated UV map correctly applied.
Strata Foto 3D CX 2 is a cool tool but it’s very pricey. You’d need to be creating 3D models very regularly to justify its purchase.