Autodesk 123D Catch: Freeware Friday

Our Russ Johnson managed to make a mess out of beautiful travel scene by converting a vineyard into a UFO using the beta of Autodesk’s 123D Catch. It’s freeware that lets you take 2D images and make them into 3D masterpieces. Almost. It’s Freeware Friday.

Pictured above: An Unidentified Flying Vineyard (Russ Johnson)

Maybe, in the future, you will be able to visit some tourist spot and capture it in Hollywood-style 3D animation.

Autodesk has a free app for Windows and Apple iOS — it runs on the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch —  called 123D Catch . It lets you make 3D animations from flat still photos.

It works well with objects such as statues. For complex subjects, such as a building or a vineyard, it still is very much a work in progress. It is simple and fun to use — but it takes some practice getting the process right. The product is still in beta, to be fair.

You start by taking around 40 photographs of a scene or object from various angles. Then you assemble them in the free software and upload the package to Autodesk’s cloud servers. They do the heavy lifting.

In a few minutes Autodesk sends you an email with a download link. You then bring the project back into the software, where you can tweak it manually, set animation key frames, preview and view it. It even lets you export your masterpiece directly to YouTube (as you see I’ve done above) or to a regular file, which I typically then edit in Adobe Premiere.

As you can see,  I tried 123D Catch on an unlikely subject — a vineyard with a lot of visual complexity. The subject contained arrays of leaves and flowers swaying in the breeze. But, in the end, I was impressed. Not bad for a novice Roger Corman!

Autodesk’s 123D Catch is my choice for freeware Friday.

By the way, here is the original scene.

Vineyard - Kenwood, CA - Russ Johnson
Photo credit: Russ Johnson for