When we were considering buying our new Phantom 3 Professional drone, 3D mapping was one of the main reasons we decided to take the plunge and spend £800 to purchase it. I’ve always been fascinated with new technology and being able to show the old in a new way. 3D mapping allows us to do this by taking multiple photos around an abandoned building, which are geotagged by the Phantom 3 Pro, allowing the photos to be constructed into three dimensional positions. There are various software solutions which can then take these photos and construct a 3D model based on them.
Since this was our first attempt at doing something like this I decided to test two different solutions, Drone Deploy and Agisoft Photoscan. Initially I was prepared to use drone deploy completely as they had an app for the iphone which would allow me to automate a flight taking photos. They also have a cloud based server which would generate the 3d model for free remotely allowing me to use my computer to work on other things, great! I thought…
The iPhone app by drone deploy was simple and easy to use. I signed up for an account with Drone Deploy and plotted the area I wanted to take photos of and tweaked some of the settings to have high overlapping and it was away! I couldn’t really fault the app at all and it was simple and easy to use. Once I got back from visiting Cambusnethan Priory I uploaded the photos to drone deploy and left it to work it’s magic. When the generated 3d model came back, I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed. This wasn’t entirely down to Drone Deploy itself, I think there were things I could have done better in capturing the house such as flying closer to the building, choosing weather which is less jarring on the property (such as it being overcast rather than very sunny!) and going at a better time of the day. The photos I had then could have been better but I still thought they were reasonable and that’s when I decide to look for alternative solutions to weigh up the competition.
So I had a look online for alternatives to Drone Deploy and Agisoft Photoscan was repeatedly recommended. Unfortunately this isn’t free with the pricetag for the standard edition coming in at $179 ,I’d put this into pounds but post brexit I’m sure I’d have to update the value daily, but it does come with a 30 day free trial. Another downside is that it has to build the model on my local machine, no cloud based servers to generate the model with this unfortunately. So I’d only really recommend using this if you have a relatively high end computer and the time to do it. After about 24 hours of generating (I wish I was joking) the model was completed. The model appeared to be sharper and more “complete”.
So in conclusion Drone Deploy for a free app is great but the model was a bit rougher around the edges. If you have the processing power, time and money then Agisoft Photoscan would be a slightly better solution. The results weren’t drastically different but there was enough of a difference there to see a better result which you can see below.
You can follow us on sketfab here where we’ll hopefully be posting more 3D mapping: https://sketchfab.com/abandonedscotland
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