Automatically turn your 2D aerial imagery into 3D

From the Google Earth blog:

When discussing the new Ovi Maps 3D a few days ago, one interesting point about their maps are how they are generated -- hundreds of aerial photographs, automatically converted to 3D.

It's apparently growing into a popular technique, as Pix4D is showing off some similar technologies.

In the article they mention using the Swinglet CAM as a great way to capture the imagery for uses like this. The "4D" part of the equation is time; you can view the progress of 3D buildings through time, assuming you've done enough captures of a particular area.

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Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on May 20, 2011 at 2:43pm

The most beautiful thing is that the processing chain has been designed for area scans, not just a single building or sculpture. It takes jpegs with EXIF locations, or separate GPS coordinates as input then makes the whole processing without gross errors, automatically trims of uncertain data on map edges etc. A true processing mill. We can provide input for that service from Pteryx UAV from our standard logs. It outputs many formats, even Google Earth kml. You just download a big zip, all is inside.


public maps, the whole country (Poland) is uniform green:



pix4d at 20cm/pix. recultivated area of a former sulphur mine.



pix4d has detected correctly that original GE maps were as much as 60m off in this area.


So besides 3D it is truly accurate mapping.

Comment by brakar on May 20, 2011 at 3:02pm

Chris and Krzysztof, I had one of my old image-sets processed at pix4d yesterday. The orthoimages looks greate, and I can open one of the dem-files in meshlab as a pure pointcloud. I can however not open the other, bigger files in any of the programs I have installed on my laptop. I therefore wonder what software you have been using for opening/viewing/or editing of the files.

Comment by Jack Crossfire on May 20, 2011 at 3:20pm
Still as awful looking as it was 10 years ago.  At least the demand for awful 3D models is growing.

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on May 20, 2011 at 4:02pm
Jack, the real application are either crop monitoring or assistance for construction sites. Imagine you have to know if the dirt from one big hole transported by N trucks will make enough dirt to cover another hole.
Comment by Arno de Jager on May 21, 2011 at 4:29am
How much does this program cost? There's no download nor a buy button on the website

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on May 21, 2011 at 5:29am

This is a service...


Also... there is standalone



Use Erdas ER Viewer for huge files. For mass-viewing hundreds of smaller images the best is AcdSee.

Comment by Scotty on May 23, 2011 at 8:36am
How would you geo-tag these hundreds of photos? and any particular format preference? (jpeg vs. raw ect.)

Comment by Krzysztof Bosak on May 23, 2011 at 9:28am

They come as jpeg because 750 RAWs are likely to explode everything, while this is only one hour of flying.

Also continuous shooting rate of practically all cameras shooting RAW is slow, some 10s. (don't look at the specs, they never publish continuous shooting rate, crowd says it depends on SD card but it doesn't, it most often depends on internal processing speed since the cards are very fast now, varies widely from make to make and is never published since nobody really cares).

Comment by YureZzZ on May 24, 2011 at 4:04pm
I've been waiting for the moment when this thing is going to be automatic. My idea to use it for creating 3d images of airports, so we could have real graphics in flight simulators.
Comment by Ritchie on May 24, 2011 at 4:39pm
Mapping airports would be probably be illegal in most countries unless they shut it down specially for you. I'm waiting for an open source version so we can get into the maths.


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