Don’t recreate… ReCap

Test of a 123d Catch generated point cloud into ReCap Studio

A lot of information has come to light since the last post, although ReCap Photo is still not available.

First, let’s talk about the two different products. ReCap Studio (a free download desktop application), is included with all Autodesk 2014 Suites, and gives us the ability to clean, aggregate, organize and visualize point clouds. Using the .RCP/.RCS file format, it provides the ability to visualize 20+ Billion points which it is claimed, blows out of the water other point cloud tools available from Bentley which are said to cap around 3 Billion points. In my experience testing, it is very good for cleaning up files that I had previously generated from 123d Catch.

File formats that can be indexed
Formats created by Autodesk ReCap Studio
RDS (3D only)
RCS. A single point cloud file that is saved in the Output folder after indexing. Point clouds saved in RCS format use meter as the unit of measurement.
RCP. A project file that points to the individual RCS files and contains information about them.
PCG, PTS, E57. Formats that can be exported.

Source: ReCap Help

ReCap Photo, available soon, is not a desktop application like ReCap Studio, instead, it is a web-based service that focuses on generating a point cloud from photos. In this blog we have covered extensively this topic under the tags of photogrammetry and 123D Catch. This new ReCap Photo service is basically the professional, higher resolution 123D Catch. This means that for certain situations (i.e. conceptual design), you may be able to bypass the use of an expensive laser scan and instead use photos to generate a point cloud. It is also claimed that it will also offer the ability to use targets to improve accuracy when generating these point clouds.

Quadcopter-digital camera workflow for generating a point cloud from photos (Courtesy of Autodesk)

The really cool thing about all this is that it can all be brought into Revit using the new point cloud format. Point clouds now have colour and we have more visual controls! We anticipate that ReCap Photo will have similar limitations encountered with 123D Catch, namely: the inability to resolve with good accuracy any shiny surfaces or walls behind obstructions. There is the possibility that some of these have been addressed with the ability to use targets, but we’ll have to test and see. Resolution of photographs is improved, so that may improve accuracy too. So it is now time to go purchase your quadcopter, a shatter-proof camera and give it a try if you need to model a building shell. There are also opportunities for Rapid Energy Modeling. If you are doing interiors, then give us a call and we can give you some tips.

Finally, the remaining question from the previous post relates to modeling automation from the point cloud. The video released on Autodesk’s page clearly shows a user creating a plane by selecting 3 points on a wall surface. My feeling was that it was meant to create a plane to aid in modeling, but upon further inspection, it seems like it is just a way of isolating elements you want to delete or isolate in regions (i.e. clipping the floor away to isolating a piece of equipment that you want to create a region for or simply delete). So my excitement about having new tools that automate model creation from a point cloud were short lived.

Finally, there is an archived on line presentation hosted by SPAR Point Group held on April 9th that covers and shows a lot of Autodesk’s direction with these new tools. It is extremely recommended viewing if you want to see more details. Also, below I have included a shorter high level overview of the technology. A recent blog post has even more information.

Edwin Guerra


Edwin is a BIM Consultant focusing on Building Performance and Structural Design with Summit Technologies, a leading provider of BIM consulting services based in Vancouver, BC. Edwin’s extensive knowledge of Revit, Dynamo, Navisworks, Bluebeam, Ecotect, Green Building Studio and Autodesk Vasari, is complemented by a passion for Green Building Design.

Leave a reply

Summit Technologies 2015
Vancouver: 604.568.8324 | Calgary: 403.648.9272 | Edmonton: 780.936.8008