Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

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mstachoni
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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by mstachoni » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:44 pm

ReCap sucks for large projects. And Autodesk knows it. And they absolutely don't care. I think it sucks for small projects too.

ReCap used to have one of the preeminent development teams at Autodesk. I was told at one point they had more employees devoted to it than any other product. Autodesk's vision was to have it be one part of a larger Reality Capture initiative that included scan-to-mesh / scan-to-BIM functionality using Cloud computing power (i.e., Amazon Web Services / Azure that they package and sell). Autodesk had already pursued this with their cloud-based rendering functionality in Revit, Navisworks, and 3ds Max, and tried to apply this fictional "zero cost infinite computing paradigm" to everything. Everything was going Cloud.

So at one point they put in some (experimental) cloud-based scan-to-mesh functionality into ReCap - which actually worked pretty well- and found out that (a) the cloud processing time required went right off the scale and (b) Amazon isn't run by stupid people, and could not provide such mass use of cloud computing in a cost-effective manner to their customers, so they pulled it from the final product.

They put the applicaiton into "Maintenance Mode," which is Autodesk speak for "Yeah the product still exists but we aren't actively developing it" and decimated the ReCap team. The Marketing Director of Autodesk's Reality Solution Group was let go and went on to found and is CEO of Cintoo. Which is awesome BTW.

I'm on a project where we are literally scanning the daily construction progress over a multiple-year schedule on about 1.5 million SF of buildable area. We will end up taking thousands of scans and handling roughly 30 terabytes of raw scan data over time. There's absolutely no way I would attempt this project in ReCap. It's solely a deliverable format for the Owner.

Cyclone Register is the only app I know of that has the large-project capability which allows you to link together separate scan databases, so we can register small portions and then link those sub-projects together throughout the course of the job. Not sure of the latest version of Faro Scene but I've heard good things about it. We are also implementing JetStream and CloudWorx, so hopefully we can negate the need for ReCap to get scans into our Autodesk software. In terms of data storage requirements, the raw scan number triples when you consider the Cyclone databases and resultant ReCap files which are created as the scan data is sent through the pipeline.

The amount of data being collected is really a function of the distances you are workling with. The trade off is the number of scans vs the resolution settings. We have very large expansive areas that need to be captured, so we can either take fewer scans at a higher resolution and still get decent detail at a distance, or drop the resolution but have to scan more often with considerable overlap to get the necessary detail and decent C2C registration. You need to develop a feel for how many scans you need at XYZ resolution to adequately get the details you need. The saving grace in scanning large outdoor areas is that lots of laser dots just hit air and don't return, so your resultant file sizes aren't that bad.

When you scan interiors, every point hits something hard and usually within 30 meters or so, and you can lower the resolution and thus lower your file sizes. Don't overestimate the need for photography. We aren't photographing anything until we get into scanning final as-builts of finished spaces and want things to look nice. With my P40 I can lower the resolution just one notch, turn on full HD photography, and have comparable file sizes to the higher resolution scans w/o photos.

On the other hand, with lowered resulution you get faster scan times, meaning you can capture more data per day, so your data storage requirements go back up again...

In the end I find that worrying about data size isn't worth the effort. Disks are cheap and I can always stuff another one into my workstation in minutes. Once you get the data imported into your registration software, you can archive the raw scan data to a pedestrian huge mechanical HDD and forget about it. Once you create the ReCap deliverable, you can also archive the registration software databases as well.
- Matt

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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by landmeterbeuckx » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:13 pm

Transferring a 300 scan project generated from the Riegl via laz in recap takes more time on the pc then time in the field.

Also generating these recap files takes a lot of resources from my work pc so you can't do anything alse. I'm thinking of a small seperate pc to install just a recap vesrion and have it generate everything seperately.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by smacl » Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:46 pm

landmeterbeuckx wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:13 pm
Transferring a 300 scan project generated from the Riegl via laz in recap takes more time on the pc then time in the field.

Also generating these recap files takes a lot of resources from my work pc so you can't do anything alse. I'm thinking of a small seperate pc to install just a recap vesrion and have it generate everything seperately.

Any thoughts?
I run my main workstation and three others lower end ones for various 'grunt work' linked up by remote desktop and reckon it is the way to go. You need a decent network connection but it is the best way of getting the maximum return out of the most valuable resource in the office, i.e. you.

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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by landmeterbeuckx » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:43 pm

smacl wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:46 pm
landmeterbeuckx wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 3:13 pm
Transferring a 300 scan project generated from the Riegl via laz in recap takes more time on the pc then time in the field.

Also generating these recap files takes a lot of resources from my work pc so you can't do anything alse. I'm thinking of a small seperate pc to install just a recap vesrion and have it generate everything seperately.

Any thoughts?
I run my main workstation and three others lower end ones for various 'grunt work' linked up by remote desktop and reckon it is the way to go. You need a decent network connection but it is the best way of getting the maximum return out of the most valuable resource in the office, i.e. you.
What are these low-end ones then? I already run remote connecting software to access an older pc to do my istar stitching.
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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by Eppic » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:58 pm

At the end of the day (I think someone mentioned this) Recap is terrible at a lot of things, but is a necessary evil that should be used for what it is 'okay' at...and no, they aren't going to touch it anymore so I've stopped hoping. They realized that it was better to 'play nice' with the Leicas and FAROs of the world and accept the data than to try and take on a competitive platform...so this is what we have...

...with that mindset, make it work for you and your workflow.

I used to use Cyclone, but we now are a FARO shop so Scene is our tool for registration (I would never register in Recap...too little control and the ability to view actual accuracy is next to impossible)...FLS files export incredibly fast (although E57's are our other choice)...PTS/PTX files get very clunky and don't really add anything to the mix so we typically avoid them.

Our typical workflow includes creation of the RCP so we can look at the views (although I'm liking Webshare for this more and more even though it's an extra step) and then a decimated/unified RCS export (usually to 10, 25, or 50mm depending on the need for the scans) and we get most RCS files down to under 1GB...this obviously depends on the size of the project, but it's more workable for our team and any end user/partner that we work with. Giving anyone a full RCP with a 25-50gb size usually ends in failure as a surprisingly low number of people have still 'worked' with raw scan data and their workstations just aren't equipped to handle huge files.

We always do our 'cleanup' in Recap as well...I don't particularly like the way Scene works...after a lot of detailed cleanup it starts to run incredibly slow. Recap will do this as well, so if you do delete points you should definitely optimize the project. I've found that 'Optimize' acts differently from 'Remove', however, so if we have time, we will do a 'save-as' and note the file as 'clean'...optimize doesn't appear to adjust the file size, but 'Remove Deleted Points' (which I've only found when doing a 'Save-As' does...so I'm not really sure what optimization is even doing because the file stays the same size.

The inability to import/index multiple scans in Recap at the same time is a HUGE bottleneck IMHO...so our workaround is also using multiple computers. We upgrade our workstations every 2 years, so our older ones get put into a 'farm' of sorts that are all connected and used to process chunks of data that we then combine as RCP's to create one big one when we need it. It's a crappy workaround, but really the best way to avoid 24-hour import/indexing times when you have a lot of data.

I'd like to do more testing on ways to effectively reduce scan data BEFORE it goes into Scene, but still have enough density to do an accurate C2C registration...in my free time of course. It's already been stated several times, but we collect WAY more data than we typically need to for a given task.

Great points made all around...just thought I'd throw my .02 in.

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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by Matt Young » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:47 am

ReCap is okay. It's a good way to get data into Autodesk software. I would not touch it for registration though.

One thing that we all need to ask ourselves is this: Do we really need all of the points that we collect with a scanner?

If you want to find the position of a wall in 3D to a certain degree of accuracy, then you only need a certain number of points to do that, depending on the accuracy required. Why scan on high resolution if you just need a 1:100 scale floor plan?

My point is that laser scanning has always been about balance, and finding the right trade off. Which is in fact just averaging. And that is really what a lot of surveying is about.

Use ReCap in the right way, with the right number of points and you will have a much better chance of success.

Some vendors will boast the millions of points per second that their scanners collect, or the billions of points that can be loaded or streamed into their software. It's all just a hype train that you cannot ever catch. Let others chase that train, take a chill pill and find balance ;)
If you don't see that there is nothing, then you are kidding yourself.

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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by landmeterbeuckx » Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:57 am

Matt Young wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 7:47 am

Use ReCap in the right way, with the right number of points and you will have a much better chance of success.

Some vendors will boast the millions of points per second that their scanners collect, or the billions of points that can be loaded or streamed into their software. It's all just a hype train that you cannot ever catch. Let others chase that train, take a chill pill and find balance ;)
problem is that clients aren't aware of this and always think in the big numbers, more is better which certainly isn't true (except when you have to quote :D )

recap is for me a delivery format, almost never a format that i use myself.
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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by Matt Young » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:00 am

Well the client is always right. That is what you must make them believe. Meanwhile you do what is right, and make them believe its what they want. ;)
If you don't see that there is nothing, then you are kidding yourself.

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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by landmeterbeuckx » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:05 am

I'll try that for sure!
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Re: Is Recap the right tool for large point clouds?

Post by smacl » Tue Dec 03, 2019 9:52 am

landmeterbeuckx wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:43 pm
What are these low-end ones then? I already run remote connecting software to access an older pc to do my istar stitching.
Usually what were the good PCs from a few years back with some running upgrades, currently mix of older AMD and Xeons. Put a few new 1TB SSDs in them last week with the sales and will probably swap out the CPUs, Mobos and RAM with whatever the best value is at the time at over the next couple of months. Probably Ryzen 2700 + 64gb RAM. I don't need high end GPUs most of the time which is a big saving. All mid tower self builds with decent cases, cooling and PSUs which makes upgrading very easy. The curve for cost versus performance gets very steep for that extra 10% speed at the top end so I tend to avoid it.

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