Project Photofly v2 Resources

Creating 2D as-built building elevation drawings in AutoCAD format is one of the services that I provide as a CAD consultant. Typically such drawings are required by my AEC industry clients for facade repair projects. To date I’ve created building elevation drawings of approximately seventy different buildings here in New York City.

The drawings included the basic architectural details of the buildings, and were semi-scale. I drafted these drawings by first taking field measurements and street-level photos.

Once in a while I’ll get an inquiry from a prospective client for the cost of creating detailed as-built building elevation drawings, for architecturally ornate buildings. Such clients are looking for something more dimensionally accurate than a CAD tracing of a street-level photo.

Street-level photos fall short for drafting dimensionally accurate, highly detailed as-built facade drawings, because of the vertical and horizontal distortion of the images at the upper stories of buildings. Conversely, as mentioned above, street-level photos, when combined with some field measurements, are good sources of data for creating semi-scale, non-detailed as-built facade drawings, because only basic information is gleaned from the photos.

When dimensionally accurate, detailed as-built building elevation drawings are required, 3D laser scanning is a solution for capturing building images in point cloud format that can be imported into AutoCAD to be interpreted and drafted into 2D drawings. This is so because 3D laser scanners account for and eliminate horizontal and vertical distortion.

Project Photofly v2

The other day I ran across Project Photofly v2 by Autodesk, and found that it is similar to 3D laser scanning. Autodesk’s overview of Project Photofly states,

Capturing the reality as-built for various purposes (renovation, rapid energy analysis, add-on design, historic preservation, fun, etc.) is now possible using your standard point and shoot digital camera thanks to advanced computer vision technologies made available through Project Photofly.

project-photofly image

I started reading about the program to determine if it could be used in lieu of the role of a 3D laser scanner mentioned above. I found resources about Project Photofly spread out, so I thought it’d be nice to post a table of those resources here in one spot:

Description Location
Project Home Page Project Photofly v2 Autodesk Labs
Forum Autodesk Project Photofly Discussion Group
Blog Post: Shaan Hurley, June 09, 2011 House on Fire Ancestral Pueblo Ruins in Autodesk’s Project Photofly and AutoCAD (Note: This is the post that I started with, and I found that it gave a good overview and example application of the program.)
Blog Post: Scott Sheppard, June 08, 2011 Project Photofly Hip Tip: Don’t rotate the object – move the camera
Article: MIT, May 26, 2011 Computing Software Transforms Photos Into 3-D Models
Blog Post: Scott Sheppard, May 25, 2011 Prepare for upcoming Project Photofly 2.0 by watching some videos
Blog Post: Emile Kfouri, March 06, 2011 Using Photofly with Revit and Vasari
(Note: In this post Emile used PP to capture an existing building, and he spoke of how it worked out for him.
Blog Post: Scott Sheppard, July 22, 2010 Photo Scene Editor for Project Photofly Now Available
Blog Post: Jason Braithwaite, July 13, 2011 Report: Using Autodesk Project Photofly and Project Vasari (Note: I enjoyed this post because it spoke of trying to use PP to capture an existing building.

Time will tell if Project Photofly is suitable for my need. Regardless, I hope this table of resources is useful, if you too are interested in learning more about Project Photofly!

Also, I’ll make this a living post, and add to the table, if I find more helpful information.


About Brian M. Curran

I'm Brian M. Curran and I run a drafting services business in NYC. My aim is to create quality drawings, and to be entrusted with important projects. For some project on-site videos, please visit my Google profile.
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4 Responses to Project Photofly v2 Resources

  1. Thanks for considering Project Photofly. You should try it.

    • bcurran says:

      I’m getting there… Today I planned on giving Project Photofly a try. I had a local ornate church in mind, so I biked over there with my camera, tape ruler, and hand held laser distance measurer. When I arrived, the church was larger and more detailed than I remembered it to be. I didn’t let that stop me, so I took 50 min to shoot 518 pictures. As I was shooting the pics I began to realize how truly large and ornate this church was. The 518 pics only captured two of the four sides! – I was taking overalls and close-ups, hence the large number of pics.

      When I returned to my pc I reviewed Emile Kfouri’s March 06, 2011 blog post on Project Photofly, and determined that this church would likely take quite a number of hours of post processing, based on the time it took for him to post process the building that he photoed. It was at that point that I determined that I bit off more than I could chew for a 1st run try of Project Photofly, and that I should start anew in the future with a smaller structure.

      Nevertheless I count my efforts this afternoon a good learning experience. My take-aways are:

      1. Start with a small project, to minimize the photo session and post processing. In other words, no more than about 40 photos for a 1st run project. The photos should be only overalls. If that works well, then one could always take the next step and return to re-shoot, including more overalls and close-ups.
      2. Reread take-away point 1!! =)

      Here’s a picture of the church. It has the steeple and copper roof.


  2. Hello,
    I find this recent segway between traditional manufacturing techniques and architectural arts/sciences one of the most fascinating. In this context there are many other similar and close technologies that could be brought into play. If a person were to combine UAV technologies for example with gigapixel photography in surveying the exterior of a building you could have a gigapixel 3D image of the entire building in question. The technologies all exist and are widely used and understood at this point. use of a UAV or balloon alone would produce incredible results.
    I have used Photofly with varying results.. It is pretty accurate and I have been able to export to all major rendering/drafting softwares. I would recommend it first (primarily because it is free right now)

    Joshua D. Johnson

    • bcurran says:

      I too find it interesting learning about and considering the potential uses of the panoply of ways to capture images and computer model constructed items. Thanks for your helpful input Joshua.

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