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Opossum Skull

by DocCopemys Nov 21, 2017
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Nice scan. What photogrammetry software and camera did you use here?
How many photos did you take?

The rig I used to capture these images consists primarily of a clockwork turntable, a couple of old point and shoot cameras, and a LED lighting system I threw together. It has its limitations but the point of the rig is actually to see how far I can push up quality while at the same time pushing down equipment costs. My goal is to be able to produce models of comparable or better quality to those a colleague of mine makes with a NextEngine laser scanner, but for about 10% of the cost in terms of equipment. The attached jpg is a photo of the rig.

The turntable is a slightly modified Camlapse 4 panoramic timelapse tripod head. It makes one rotation per hour, turning slowly enough that motion blur is not an issue. I have it set up on a lab bench across from my desk. When I hear it stop ticking I go over, reset the cameras to a new position, and restart the turntable. Mechanically it's nothing more than a wind-up egg timer. At some point soon I hope to order an actual egg timer and modify it into something that will give me a little greater ability to control rotational speed and be cheaper to make. The Camlapse 4 can be purchased for about $30 with shipping, I'd like to get the cost of this component down to a target cost of about $5.

The cameras are a couple of old Nikon Coolpix P90s. They were higher-end point and shoot cameras in thier day. One I had purchased new shortly after they were released and one that I picked up on E-bay for $15. Most of the time I see them on Ebay prices range from about $50-$140. The main reason I'm using these is that they have an intervalometer built into their firmware. I set them to take a photo once a minute and let them go for an hour. Usually I wind up with 4-6 times more pictures than I need. That actually works out well because if the auto-focus doesn't work well here and ther I can throw those out and still likely have good coverage. It also makes it easy to throw in more photos if I find the coverage in my initial attempt at modelling to be inadequate.

The lighting rig I threw together for less than $20.

As for the software, I use batch actions in Photoshop to do some basic image enhancement and to rename the photos from the two cameras in such a way that all image names are unique. I have a commercial license of the basic version of Agisoft Photoscan. The Full version would work better with respect to some features but the basic version is much cheaper and does most of what I need. The things that it doesn't do I've figured out work-arounds for using Meshlab and the free version of NetFabb.

As for the opossum model specifically, the cranium was modeled using 438 photographs (out of 903 taken), the jaw used 282 (out of 1109 taken). It usually takes several days to get everything I need for one of these but it's pretty much a series background processes I can have running while I'm busy with other things at work. When I have time I plan on using a Raspberry Pi and some stepper motors to build a more automated image capture rig, but for now this set-up while not the most time practical does demonstrate that you can get good models with little in the way of equipment cost.