Introduction: 123D-4P

123D-4P is a process and materials exploration of the 123D Catch app. The "4P" in 123D-4P stands for photography, ponder, process and prototyping. This Instructable is not quite a set of instructions, but more a documentation of my experiment. I plan on catching many items with hopes of generating some funky objects.

Catch is revolutionary because it allows for people to easily generate 3D models of objects that would be difficult to build in conventional modeling software. Food, for instance, can be caught, modeled and output.123D Catch is not just a modeling tool, but it is also graphics tool. It has its own aesthetic: a smoothing of textures, distortion, and cool color-cast. Since 123D catch allows for the user to upload around 20-50 images of their object, there is a lot of room for discrepancy in form. Maybe its the lighting situation, the shadows or the backdrop that obscures the form? The 123D-4P experiment is a celebration of the weird imagery that Catch creates. I know that the software was designed to work seamlessly with digital images, but I'm going to make it harder for myself and use alternative methods of photography. I will make scans, renderings, pin-hole shots, flash photography with disposable cameras, images of shadows, and other techniques to experiment with 123D Catch. 

*Animated Gifs were excessively used in the making of this presentation. 

Step 1: Scanning

First, I tried scanning. It was difficult using the computer while my hand was in the flat-bed! I did approximately 40 scans, hoping it would be sufficient for a solid Catch.

Step 2: Scanning: Hand

A sampling of my scans. 

Step 3: Scanning: Results

The scans of my hand were not as effective as I had hoped for creating a 3D model. Though the image mapped nicely on the surface of the mesh, there is little dimension to the form. The next step is to scan in a darker room, it might make it easier for the software to understand the spacial context of the images. 

Step 4: Scanning: Flowers

I grabbed some dried flowers from my desk and dropped them in the scanner. The lights were turned out and a black cutting board was used to block out the incandescent light from the hallway. 40 independent flower scans were taken and uploaded for the Catch. 

Step 5: Scanning: Results

The image that resulted from the flower-scans was less intelligible than my hand-scans! I think its time to experiment with another photographic method. Back to the drawing board!

Step 6: Rendering: Finding a Megaphone in the 3D Warehouse

Next, I tried using 3D software to generate screen shots for a catch.

I didn't feel like modeling anything so I went to Google 3D Warehouse. Its an awesome resource where you can download .skp mesh files for google SketchUp. Most 3D applications are compatible with a range of file types. I'm most comfortable with Rhino 4, and luckily it allows for the user to upload .skp files. Rhino is a good tool to use because it can edit meshes and generate better renderings than SketchUp. 

I picked out a megaphone that I liked from the 3D warehouse, right clicked on the download and opened it in Rhino. 

Step 7: Rendering: Import Into Rhino

This is a screen grab from Rhino. It shows the mesh file in its "wireframe" view. I clicked on the Perspective viewport to enlarge it. The I went to View on the task bar, and selected Rendered. This allows for you to see the object in its rendered state. 

Step 8: Rendering: Megaphone

This is what the megaphone looks like in its rendered viewport. I didn't actually render this for my Catch, I just took screen shots like this. I think that is why it didn't really work. The lack of lighting and shadow is too artificial, and doesn't create the illusion of 3D form. To take this forward I will try doing photo realistic renderings in KeyShot. I think the addition of lighting and shadows will help make a better Catch. 

Step 9: Rendering: Results

This is the 3D model. It doesn't look like much... yet! If I can manage, I'd like to do some serious renderings using Keyshot. It would be strange to see if the Catch software could generate 3D models from computer renderings.

Step 10: Rendering: Citroen 2CV

Using the same process as before, I uploaded a pre-made model from the 3D Warehouse into Rhino.

Step 11: Rendering: Car

Just like with a physical object, images were taken by going all the way around the model. 

Step 12: Rendering: Results

I like the way the image of the car was mapped on the surface of the mesh. At a certain point while rotating around the Catch you can see the car vividly. Its like an anamorphic projection. 

Step 13: Disposable Camera

I attempted a couple of Catches by taking flash photos with disposable cameras. 

Step 14: Disposable Camera: Flowers

These photos were taken like a normal catch, except I was in low-light using a disposable with flash. 

Step 15: Disposable Camera: Results

The disposable camera yielded a 3D form! The screen captures below show the model in 123D app 3D preview. 

From here, I imported the .obj file into Mesh Mixer. I like to clean up my .obj's in Mesh Mixer using the Paintbrush and Lasso Selects. Typically I fix the meshes in Mesh Mixer before doing any fine modeling in other programs.

Using the surface edits, I was able to get rid of extra polygons that might bog up a print job. Once the editing was complete, I opened the models up in the Maker Bot software...

Step 16: Disposable Camera: 3D Prints

And I printed them! I think the material looks like melting ice. 

Step 17: Disposable Camera: Butterfly Chair

I took these photos in my basement in the pitch dark - it was really difficult to frame my shots!

Step 18: Disposable Camera: Results

Again, the disposable was able to capture the form of the subject quite well.  

Step 19: 3D Printed Pinhole

I wanted to do something radical for this 123D-4P experiment, so I 3D printed my own pinhole camera! The camera was designed from scratch with the sole purpose of printing it on the Dimension UPrint printers at my school. Using this pinhole calculator, I figured out the lens diameter and the distance to the film plane. My calculations were slightly off, and the lens is most likely too wide. Many of the images that I used for the catch were over exposed, obscuring the subject beyond recognition. Though the catch wasn't successful, I love the contrast between the old technology of pinhole photography and the new 123D Catch app. 

Step 20: Pinhole Cinema

Its nice that this gif has the feel of an old movie! Unfortunately, it wasn't successful in generating a Catch. 

Step 21: Pinhole: Results

Though I didn't get a 3D model by using my pinhole camera, I did get these nice images. 

Step 22: Conclusion

Here is a compilation of my favorite images that were created during this experiment. 

The Photography Contest

Participated in the
The Photography Contest