Strata Foto 3D CX lets you use a standard digital camera to capture real-world objects as fully textured 3D models. Its ideal for difficult to model objects like organic shapes, soft forms and hand made items.
The included Photoshop plug-in makes model creation even easier. Foto 3D models are ideal for developing packaging, games, illustrations, online catalogues and more.
Strata Foto 3D CX 2 requirements: 1024x768 display or better / Intel or Power Mac / 510 MB RAM / 75 MB HDD free space / Mac OSX 10.4 or later. ?
To run Foto 3D as an Adobe Photoshop plug-in, you need Photoshop extended CS 4 or CS 5.x.
Test System: 24" iMac / 4 GB RAM / 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / Mac OSX 10.6.8
What does this software do?
Strata Foto 3D provides an easy way to generate 3D models directly from photos taken with a standard digital camera. You can use Foto 3D alone to mask a series of photos and generate a 3D model, or you can run Foto 3D as a Photoshop plug-in allowing faster easier masking. The generated model can be returned to Photoshop as a new 3D layer for compositing etc, or output as a VMRL for interactive display (e.g. web based product catalogue). The model could also be imported into a 3D modelling program such as Strata Design 3D CX 7 to place and render it in a virtual environment.
Note: the software generates triangle mesh models. These can be optimised and decimated inside Foto 3D. I generated the tutorial doll model in Foto 3D and subsequently imported it into Strata Design 3d CX 7. Frankly, I wouldn't want to use such a model as the basis for animation (unless it was REALLY basic animation). I think it would take more time than it was worth to fix polyflow and prep for rigging etc.
The Strata.com website has a great article called 'Museum Captures the Past' that I think demonstrates a fantastic use case for Foto 3D - to easily generate an interactive database of items (especially precious or fragile ones) that can be publicly viewed (via web, kiosk etc) without needing to physically display them.
Who is it for?
Practically anyone could use this software, but given the price it is unlikely to be a student or hobbyist. Graphic designers could certainly justify purchasing it if they have sufficient requirement for compositing 3D elements into artwork, quickly updating organic or complex 3D web content, or creating 3D presentations etc.
How easy is it to use?
In two words: VERY EASY
Essentially, there are four steps to create a model:
1. Take a series of photos
2. Mask each photo
3. Generate geometry (using a wizard)
4. Generate textures (using a wizard)
Probably the trickiest part is setting up the model and lighting for you photo shoot, and even that is made easier with Strata's calibration mat*. The User Guide is very clear and there are some great video tutorials on the Strata.com website under the 'Case Studies & Videos' tab on the Strata Foto 3D CX 2 product page.
*Strata Foto 3D CX 2 comes with a template file for a 'calibration mat' that you can print out to assist with capturing the photos. It's basically a circular array of dots with a clear area in the middle for mounting the object to be 'modelled'. The software references the array to calculate relative camera position and angle for each photo in order to generate geometry and textures. A handy set up for using this would be to have the template on a turn-table and your camera on a tripod. Carefully light the object and then start taking your photos - after each shot rotate the template base to the next row of dots in the array etc. Note: if you can't use the mat you can use a marker system in the software to achieve the same result (this process is clearly explained in the support material).
• Ease of use
• Speed of model generation and texturing
• Output to Photoshop 3D layer
• Output VMRL or 3DS
• A bit pricey
• Photoshop must be set to run in 32 bit mode for the Strata plug-in to work
• Not currently compatible with Photoshop CS 6
• If you decide to use the Photoshop plug-in, a slightly geeky install procedure requires you to navigate through Application sub folders seeking out locations for the Photoshop Plug-ins and Pre-sets folders.
Would I recommend Strata Foto 3D CX 2?
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