3Dflow ships 3DF Zephyr 4.5
3Dflow has released 3DF Zephyr 4.5, the latest version of its image-based modelling software, improving UV packing and the generation of fine detail, and adding the option to bake normal and displacement maps.
The top-of-the-range Aerial edition gets the option to import reference data in .dxf format, and to export orthophotos at unlimited resolutions, with alpha channels.
All editions: better detail generation and UV packing; normal and displacement map export
Changes in 3DF Zephyr 4.5 – it’s actually the next stable release after 3DF Zephyr 4.3 – include improved extraction of fine detail when generating a mesh.
3Dflow has also updated the Enhance Mesh filter introduced in 3DF Zephyr 4.0. The enhancement is an “educated guess” at the detail in the actual object, and is intended for use in VFX work rather than research.
The update also increases the efficiency with which UVs generated by the software are packed. 3Dflow doesn’t put a figure on the improvement, but you can see a comparison with the previous release here.
Other changes include the option to bake object and tangent space normal maps – and also displacement maps, according to the video above – from high-poly geometry directly from the software’s user interface.
The software also now supports 3Dconnexion’s 3D input devices.
Other than that, it’s largely workflow and performance improvements – extracting frames from video is now “up to 10x faster”. You can find a full list of changes via the link below.
Aerial edition only: unlimited-resolution orthophotos and .dxf data import
The Aerial edition, aimed at aerial survey work, gets several improvements to the generation of orthophotos.
Ortophotos can now be generated at unlimited resolution and exported as a BigTIFF file; and can be exported with an alpha channel and ‘nodata’ value for transparent regions of the image.
The update also adds “intelligent cropping” of orthophoto borders.
Users can now import reference points and polylines from CAD software in .dxf format; and can render polylines and CAD shaders in world space instead of screen space.
There is also a new terrain extraction tool based on the CSF point filter.
Both the Aerial and Pro editions now support passive stereo displays like Schneider Digital’s 3D PluraView.
Pricing and availability
3DF Zephyr 4.5 is available for 64-bit Windows Vista and above. The software is CUDA-based, so to make use of its GPU-accelerated features, you need a suitable Nvidia graphics card.
The free version includes a basic range of tools, works with up to 50 source images or video frames, and runs on a single GPU; the $169 Lite edition supports up to 500 source images and two GPUs.
The higher-end editions, the $2,700 Pro edition and the $4,200 Aerial edition, support unlimited source images and multiple GPUs, and add a range of advanced features. See a comparison table here.