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At CES 2013, 3D Systems announced the release of Cubify Capture, which allows users to take a video or photo and turn it into an actual 3D-printable model. Over the past 9 months, 3D Systems has been trying to turn Cubify into a powerful cloud-based environment for not just downloading of files (for purchase), but uploading and 3D-ifying objects using video and images alone. That’s pretty exciting – but this is not a radical development – take a look at Trimensional or AutoDesk 123D Catch, for example. Plus, Makerbot has a kick-ass face-scanning booth at their Mid-town Manhattan store, covered by Solidsmack back in November. We tried the Cubify offering today – and …. well… let’s just say it’s not quite ready for prime time.

Duck-lips in 3D?


In theory, it works like this:

  1. Capture 30-40 images (or 20-60 second video) as you walk around of your object.
  2. Log onto Cubify.com –> Menu “Create” –> “Cubify Capture Beta”
  3. Upload your images or video
  4. Cubify Capture’s cloud processing engine will then use your photos to digitally reconstruct the object in 3D. (Takes 30mins to a few hours depending on your images).
  5. When the processing is complete, Cubify Capture will send you an email with a link.
  6. You can then view the model in 3D, edit the model with an on-screen “crop” tool.
  7. Finally, you can download your Cubify Capture model in .STL or obj+texture files for use in other 3D modelling applications.

Seems simple, right? Previous techniques depended on your own computer – it seems that 3D Systems–like Autodesk 123D–is getting better results by doing the hard math in the Cloud.


Those Darned Bugs

I should preface this by saying that in the end, we couldn’t get it to work. We’re still excited about the product in theory, but it seems that this ‘beta’ product is still very, very beta.


I took some video of my shining visage with my handy iPhone 4S and uploaded it. But not after dealing with some problems logging in – it kept on hanging. Once everything was uploaded, I submitted it and began the waiting game. About 45 minutes later I receive an exciting email.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.15.37 PM

Wait – um. Did I mess it up? Is my model ready? Should I try again? Hmmm let’s go to Cubify.com and click on “My Captures”

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 1.13.32 PM

I guess so…. let’s try this again. ….oops! It stalled at 99.5% ….. and again …. and again. AND AGAIN. By take 5, I began watching the upload carefully, where I noticed the upload bar jump from 25% to 65% in one second (for a 20 MB file) …. then fluctuate between 70 and 78% …. And then stall at precisely 92.71%.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 3.01.12 PM

Okay, so at this point I gave up. We can say that Cubify Capture isn’t working right now. To be fair, it’s a beta, and probably a popular one at that–everyone has loading issues when a new product is launched, and 123D had its own issues early on as well.

That said, as of the date of this posting, don’t waste your time. I spent far too much of mine trying to take the right pictures and videos of my face, but either 3DS was (kind of?) rejecting me (this we can’t be sure of – they didn’t say much of anything in that email! Just say ‘try again’!). And even then, I couldn’t upload squat. Too bad.

Source: 3ders.org and Cubify.com

Filed under: CAD FAB NEWS

  • Thanks for this review, I was curious how it would work!

  • No problem – that’s why we’re here!

  • Thanks for the plug on the MakerBot 3D Photo Booth, which is of course powered by ShapeShot from Direct Dimensions. JF Brandon is correct, it is ‘kick ass’ and works – automatically – both the front end capture process and the back end post-processing into a 3D printable file. See http://www.ShapeShot.com for more. And Cubify – give us a call, we’ll show you how its done.

  • Kickass is right – pardon the technical jargon everyone!

  • The example files always make these apps look super easy but my experience seems to be that the lighting used and texture of the object make huge differences.

    A booth standardises the lighting & background which gets rid of one headache. I once spent an hour putting tiny little dots on a glossy block model after 123D turned it into a blobby mess. I thought I was being clever (I thought of those motion capture suits) but it still came out bobbins. The shiny surface totally confused it.

    Still it is awesome tech. I did a real sculpture of a torso recently – then 123D’d it and started changing bits in Mudbox. Fun. But not as much fun as clay. Or life classes.

  • M.S.

    If we’re scanning something glossy we typically coat the entire object in white powder or a white matte paint. It can be an irreversible process but it’s quite effective.

    Actually we work with Direct Dimensions’ trash-talking selves quite a lot…hello from JK studio, guys 😉

  • NE_Heights_Elitist

    I am wondering if anyone checks out what you are uploading. I can bet someone will update photocopying one’s butt to 21st century tech status.

  • Butt why? So crude….

  • Of course we luv you guys also at JK Studio!

  • Get a room!