Tag Archives: photogrammetry

Creed Monument – Scan Techniques

The monument of the Creed family sits against the North wall of St. Alfege Church, Greenwich. Sir James Creed (1696 – 1792) was an MP and lead merchant and is buried with his wife at the church. This is a marble monument, about 4 metres high – with markings higher up that suggest a metal cross piece used to be fixed to it.

Photogrammetry Scan

By photographing an object from all sides and capturing many images – with enough overlap so they can be tied together – photogrammetry software can create an accurate 3d model of that object. The resulting mesh object can then be edited and used in CAD / 3D modelling software such as 3DS Max, Rhino, Maya etc. Processes could include replacing textures / materials or applying sun and light models to examine artificial shadow patterns.

This model was created with the software Zephyr Aerial 4.5 using 64 photographs taken with an Apple iPhone X in good daylight. The clarity of a high definition photograph enables the model to carry over very fine, close up detail. Zephyr allows for the mesh to be tidied up, cropped and then exported to the Sketchfab website / service which allows models to be zoomed, spun and examined via browser or app (embedded link below).

Photogrammetry lends itself particularly well to constructing museum-grade scans of smaller, closer objects. It can also deal with larger projects though these are likely require the use of extra equipment – drones, zoom lens, etc. – to obtain distant, high up and otherwise hidden spots to sufficiently cover the entire subject.

Creed Monument: Photogrammetry

Laser Scan

LIDAR technology – radar with light – bounces many light rays off objects within a space to measure distances to those objects and build up a cloud of points with accurate spatial data that represent the shapes found. Typically a tripod mounted laser scanner will rotate the beam vertically and the scanner unit horizontally to capture a 360 sphere of data in a single scan. A number of scans are carried out to best capture the space from all points – and eliminate “blind spots”. These scans are combined together – or registered – to create a single unified point scan.

While the density – and size – of the points can give the impression of solid geometry it is important to remember that this model is floating dots – not solids or meshes that can be edited in the same way as the photogrammetry final output. The size of these points can be adjusted to create revealing, x-ray style views through a building. More practically a point cloud survey of a site can reside as a reference layer on a CAD site plan; the very fine accuracy of a laser scan and the distance it can reach being a distinct advantage.

A Leica BLK360 scanner was used to carry out this scan – with three scans about the monument registering into a single point cloud. Each scan takes around 5 minutes and with so few scans the registration process is straightforward – large projects with lots of scans can be a very involved and time consuming process.

Relative to other laser scanners this model has a range of “only” around 50m (the Faro scanners have nearly three times this). The high concentration of light points sent out also mean that – even with tree coverage around a building or landscape – enough of the beams will still get through to record the semi-hidden project behind.

Creed Monument: Laser Scan

iPhone Polycam App

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro include a Lidar sensor – a feature to enhance the accuracy of distance and measurement for purposes of augmented reality and camera focusing. This feature has also been utilised by a number of developers to create Lidar scanning apps which open up the opportunity for quick, on-the-go scans straight from the phone.

This app by Polycam is one of the earliest and best to exploit the hardware and point to possibilities of this handset based technique.

This is a lower resolution mesh but the high resolution images wrapped around it still give a good impression of the model. Polycam / Lidar sensor will continuously try to correct itself during the scan sweep to maintain alignment – but there are a few tears in this example where the registration has slipped. More careful movement when scanning would help to prevent this. This scan took about 5 minutes.

Creed Monument – Polycam Scan / iPhone

iPhone TrueDepth Apps

Recent Apple devices use the front facing camera – with “TrueDepth” sensor – to capture 3D information for use with face ID authentication and Animoji. This technique involves projecting 30 000 infrared points and reading back a 3d map of the user’s face. Similar to the Lidar apps, developers have utilised this feature to author apps that can 3d scan with it.

Heges and Capture by Standard Cyborg are two good apps that lever this power of TrueDepth to carry out 3d scans.

Although the capture resolution here is very high the range is short which makes it suitable just for smaller, close-up scans. The other big barrier is that since it uses the front facing camera the handset needs to be pointed at the subject – with the screen away from the viewer. This can make it difficult to see what areas are being scanned – though the Heges app does include a screen share feature where the scan view shows on another device. Constructing a rig that can rotate the camera smoothly all around the model is another option too, where possible, to control speed and shake.