Three weeks ago, I had never flown a real drone before. However, since my appetite for reality capture has been growing lately, I felt it was time to invest in a drone that could be used for photogrammetry. Therefore, after comparing/evaluating/comparing again different types of drones, I finally decided to buy the Phantom 4.
I am always afraid of being disappointed when I finally receive something that I have been waiting for a long time, but in this case, it was no need to worry. DJI made even the unboxing an Apple-like feeling, and when the drone was revealed I was stunned by the sexy and elegant design. I was so starstruck that it was the first time in my life that I read the manual, saw all the instruction videos on YouTube, before I even turned it on. The Phantom 4 became «my precious».
When I finally had the guts to try it outdoor, it was a joyful experience. The software was intuitive, the controller felt solid and precise, and the drone was responsive. I have tested out most of the features like the «activetrack», «tapfly», «obstacle sensing system», «return to home» and many more. I do start to trust these features, but it still feels crazy to fly the drone with full speed towards a wall and trust the «obstacle sensing system» to automatically stop your drone before it crashes.
I have also tested the Pix4D app with the Phantom 4 two times already. It is a great app and I will review it in a later blogpost. I generated a Sketchfab model from my latest flight. You can see the result below:
At the moment I am not using «my precious» for commercial use. I want to be a better pilot first, and I need to apply to the Civil Aviation Authority to get the right approval. This is important to me, since I see the potential danger a drone can cause.
RTC Europe (Revit Technology Conference) is an annual educational and networking event for BIM users worldwide. This is the place to be for top notch sessions, sharing of knowledge and catching up on the latest trends within digital tools. I have been to every RTC event since it started here in Europa and this time Budapest was the luck city to host this event.
This year, I was not only a delegate at the RTC Europe in Budapest, but I was also a speaker. Together with Margarida Barbosa from Beck group we delivered a session on «Using Photogrammetric Surveys at Architectural Offices» where we explained the potential of using photogrammetry in the daily workflow.
By combining the eminent knowledge Margarida has on this subject, with my experience from work, we delivered a 75 min session for «all levels». It was a joyful experience and we were super proud to be rated no. 5 top speaker at the conference. To see the entire top ten list, check out the blog posted by Jose Fandos.
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions related to this subject. We are happy to share our discoveries.
See also the review by Jack White, BIMcrunch Editorial – RTC Europe 2015 Review
See you in Portugal next year!
Instead of taking multiple photos of an object to create a 3D model, you should consider capturing video of the object instead. As we all know, a video consists of multiple frames that are stacked together and the frame rate is somewhere between 24 and 30. So basically you can just extract the frames from the video and use these frames to create a 3D model by using photogrammetry.
This is one way you can do it:
- open your video in Photoshop
- press the «Render Video» button in your «timeline» tab
- select the «Photoshop Image Sequence» and be sure you have maximum quality for the JPG´s
- if you are going to use Memento, you can not exceed 250 photos. I usually divide 250 with the duration of the video in seconds. In this way, I will not extract more than 250 frames
- hit the «Render» button and wait
You have now approximately 250 photos waiting for you to import into Memento and then it is just to wait for the processing to be completed.
PS! I have all my personal videos stored in «Google Photos». Have Google ever considered starting making 3D model effects from these videos by using photogrammetry, or are they just waiting for «Google Tango» to make the first dance…?
I guess I have a hang up on photogrammetry lately. But I enjoy the way you can move data quickly in an effortless operation.
Google Maps is getting better and better, and to be honest I am really amazed how you can view an entire city in great detail. We use Google Maps in our office to investigate exciting sites and surroundings, and I have thought that it would have been valuable to import this information into Revit.
And guess what, by using photogrammetry I made it happen:)
- open google maps in full screen and find your building site
- rotate the view around your site meanwhile you press «print screen» as often as you wish
- with dropbox installed, the «print screens» should be perfectly downloaded automatically
- you should crop your photos to get rid of unwanted text/labels. You can do this by making an «action» in Photoshop and then choose «File» – «Scripts» – «Image Processor» to crop every photos in a folder
- then you make a mesh in Memento with your cropped photos and export it in RCP
- import it into Revit and enjoy
PS! For fun, I also tried to do photogrammetry with Google Streetview. It was not successful but I will try again later. I do have some ideas:)
The last five years, my family have been visiting «Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park» in the summer holiday. It is a great park that has a lot to offer to children in different ages, and we usually stay there for two full days.
Even I get the great feeling of being young again. I relive my own experience when I visited the park as a kid, and it is great to be childish together with my son on a pirate ship and shout «yo ho».
There is of course a stress factor involved. You have two children to look after, ice cream in one hand, camera in the other, a lot of people running and walking, and you are trying to meet the expectation of the children.
But even then, you want to capture this moment, the feeling of joy and anticipation. And for decades we have captured this moment with photos and videos, and we post it on different social mediums. And before this existed, we placed the photos in a family album. But what if we could push it to a new level. Could I manage to tell a story of my experience in a different way?
Well, the result was somewhat successful regarding the time and limitation I had taking the photos. No, I did not bring a drone to capture photos from the skies:) Nor did I have the privilege to stroll around in my desired speed. But hey! I got some decent results from some of the places we visit during our stay in the park. I only wished I could have captured my great kids as well but have you ever tried to ask your kids to stand still in five minutes in a amusement park… 🙂
Please visit my Sketchfab page to see the results: https://sketchfab.com/models/4aa1037f567345cd92ae126a7729ac97
Or take a look at this video:
I have been taking a lot of photos lately to test different photogrammetry software, and sometimes I feel that the results is better than it should have been since I usually shoot from my hip.
One of my favorite programs is Memento from Autodesk that is a really great software. Memento is in Beta mode but has the tools you need to generate a mesh/pointcloud from your pictures. The interface is really great and it is easy to use.
It has some issues with Z-direction and scaling when you export it, but hopefully they will fix this bug shortly. It is also frustrating that it is not possible to import the mesh into Revit. Therefor you need to export the model as a pointcloud to import it to Revit, and that is a pity. It would have been great to use the mesh to create sun study for instance, or to create the surroundings to your project. This is not a Memento problem. It is a Revit problem.
Remember to import your cool models into Sketchfab so you can show them to your colleges or embed them into your homepage (if they support it…) 🙂
Sometimes new technology needs to mature before it is efficient or useful to use in the daily work. And as an architect, I always need to balance the time and effort to play with new tools that may be useful in the future.
Photogrammetry on the other hand is not a new technology anymore. But since new software makes the process much smoother, and the prices for drones has been dropping, there is a lot of new potential with this technology.
That is why I have made a couple of case studies lately, to understand the limitation and possibilities for a real life project. My first experiment is with the DJI Phantom 2 drone, and I wanted to see what kind of accuracy I got from the mesh and the pointcloud from the photogrammetry.
I was rather impressed to see the results if you take in consideration that the drone only took 31 photos, but maybe it is not accurate enough to use it in the design phase. But then again, how accurate do you actually need the surroundings to be? When you import it to Revit, the pointcloud may give value as an reference.
Special thanks to Geomatikk Survey for the excellent drone service.