Take one piece of software that can stitch 2D photos into a 3D model, one camera-carrying UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), and mix well to impress and inspire. This was the recipe used by Autodesk's Director of Strategic Research, Gonzalo Martinez, when he set about modifying an Octo-Copter UAV for use with Autodesk's 123D Catch software to simplify the process of making 3D models of large real-world objects, while also having some fun.
The Mikrokopter Octocopter is an 8-rotor flying platform which has a 2 kg (4.4 lbs) capacity to carry cameras. It can be flown using an internal camera to give the operator a copter-based vantage point on video glasses, or can be programmed to follow a GPS-controlled flight path. An Octocopter can fly autonomously at altitudes up to 1000 meters (3280 feet), or can be manually flown as high as 3500 meters (11,480 feet). In the Autodesk tests video was captured using a GOPro Hero 2 camera, and the still pictures from which the 3D model was later built were taken by a remotely triggered Canon SLR camera.
Autodesk 123D is a suite of programs which allow a user to create, manipulate, and construct 3D objects using a 3D printer. Catch is part of the 123D suite, and offers a standalone software package that helps you create 3D models from a series of 2D digital images of an object or a scene. The spatial resolution available using 123D Catch is about 1 part in 600, or 0.167% of the total size of the object pictured, so you would be able to accurately place individual windows on a 3D model of a Boeing 747.
The video below illustrates the process of developing the 3D model of Autodesk's headquarters building from start to finish.