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ReCap Data File Formats – Which, Where & How?

Mitko Vidanovski
September 19, 2014

Supports all laser scan data


Hi folks!!!

Many of you who have come across 3D laser scan data or digital photogrammetry models have probably wondered about all the new file formats. “What created them”, “What do they represent”, and most importantly, “How we can use them” and “Which product do I use them in”?

import scan data into recap

In this article, I’ll try to explain briefly all the file formats that the Autodesk ReCap product can read and export.

So let’s start.

First is scan alignment with ReCap Pro:

ReCap registration process

ReCap Pro is an in-product enhancement to ReCap that dramatically improves the quality and efficiency of laser scanning projects with target-less registration, the process of aligning scans together without markers. To align, or if you prefer to register scans with ReCap not only you need the “Pro” version, but ReCap also requires that your scan data is structured. Well, “What is structured scan data”?

Faro Scanner Targets

Structured scan data is mainly coming from Faro, Leica, Z+F, Riegl and Trimble 3D laser scanners in the format of .FLS, .PTG, PTX, ZFS & .RDS scan files. These file formats, and some types of binary E57 scan files, are primarily structured scan data. It’s a way that the scan data is stored from the hardware that ReCap can use to:

– Register/align scan data (only with Pro version)

– Add survey points (Pro)

– View the scans in “Panorama” mode (Free)

– Publish scans on the cloud and share by using RealView on (Free)

realview panoramic scan data

RealView on ReCap 360 is an online service that provides scan viewing, sharing, measurement, and annotations (including hyperlinks).

This laser scan data that is recorded by terrestrial 3D scanners that can be imported by ReCap in a 3D panoramic representation that is both visually compelling as well as measurable. These panoramas are excellent communication tools for conveying the real-world conditions of a scanned environment without having a physical presence.

All the other scan file formats that ReCap can import cannot be used for the mentioned features above. However, unstructured scan data can still be used for all the available editing capabilities within the free version of the ReCap product.

More technical information around ReCap & ReCap Pro can be found under the recap knowledge network page.


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Mitko Vidanovski

Mitko Vidanovski is an author and manager of the Autodesk ReCap blog. A Master's Degree Architect who joined the Reality Solutions Team in 2012 helping Autodesk lift two new innovative products on the market ReCap and ReMake. He is responsible for leading the online community efforts, developing product analysis, and making pilot tests of new technologies involving 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry. Previous to Autodesk, Mitko worked in progressive environments such as Otherlab and Because We Can, where he gained experience in various fabrication technologies, such as 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC milling.


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  1. AvatarjustinESPBX

    Oh how interesting- the article and introduction lead me to believe that this would be a resource for me to learn about the file formats that the Autodesk ReCap product can read and export- but then it was just about the basics of what Recap and Recap Pro can do…

    1. AvatarjustinESPBX

      I’m working on a write-up of the current hellscape of file formats used for storing and transmitting pointcloud and laser scan data.