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Hi all, just got this email from one of our students:

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Hey Alan,

I’m looking into drone mapping software and thought you might be good to poke and see which ones you like. I’ve tried Pix4D and Drone Deploy so far. I really liked Pix4D and the results seemed a little better than Drone Deploy, but I used the desktop version to process (Pix4D cloud was not successful) and I used the photos from Pix4D to process in Drone Deploy so that may have effected results.

Both results were pretty good though. It seems like Pix4D (again desktop version) is a bit more sophisticated, but exports to bring into other software (Revit, CAD) are pretty similar. The measuring on Drone Deploy was a little glitchy. Pix4D cloud version uploaded from desktop version seemed to lack a few tools that Drone Deploy had. Volume for example is not available on the Pix4D cloud version, but it is on Drone Deploy, only in 2D view though which makes it hard to tell if you are clicking the right points to get the right volume. Pix4D desktop the volumes can be done in 3D so you can tell what you’re actually getting.

Any thoughts on these or other products? The two/three outputs I’ll probably be using the most are the ortho maps, point cloud, and 3D mesh.

 

Thoughts? I haven't spent enough time comparing the two myself. (cc @Lewis@IcarusAerials @Trevor - Icarus)

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18 hours ago, Alan Perlman said:

Hi all, just got this email from one of our students:

Thoughts? I haven't spent enough time comparing the two myself. (cc @Lewis@IcarusAerials @Trevor - Icarus)

Drone Deploy is fine if you are not planning on using GCPs and you don't want to mess with learning the software. Basically, they do all the processing for you and a little cleanup of the 3D aspect. The pricing isn't bad as a temporary solution for a full package sans GCPs at around $3000.00 a year.

You have a lot more control over your projects with Pix4D both up front in establishing GCPs and checkpoints and in the final product including a lot of additional outputs like contour lines, DSMs, DTMs, point clouds, ect...For this, you do have the additional task of learning how to use the software but you also have the ability to spend a lot of time on the back end cleaning up your project data to make it more attractive. There are a lot of pricing options; we went with a perpetual license for $8700.00 with a ~$900.00 per year maintenance fee. Over a five year lifespan, it was a little more expensive BUT it runs on my workstation under an OpenGL environment without any need to upgrade.

You can also look at Correlator3D by Symactive which I had really high hopes for but the hardware requirements and our purchasing bureaucracy dashed those hopes. Over a five year lifespan it is actually cheaper (~&2000.00 cheaper) even taking into account that I had to buy yet another GPU that would run it (FirePro W7100 or W9100) that operates under an OpenCL environment. One drawback is that the available coordinates systems you can choose between to run your projects under is pretty limited but I'm sure you can script that and resolve that issue.

Bottom line is Drone Deploy is good for casual use without much accuracy unless you have a lot of extra cash to spend on adding GCPs to each map (we produce at least 200-1500 map sets of various projects through a fiscal year). Otherwise, you need to dole out a little more money up front and learn how to use the software (or hire a photogrammetrist). 

Edited by R Martin
Pall Mall caint Spall
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Great, thank you for the responses so far! It was my original question, thank you Alan for posting. 

I am planning on using coordinates so I can bring the point cloud created into programs like CAD/Revit/Navisworks accurately and I don't mind learning software, so I guess that leans me towards Pix4D. However, I like the tools that users get access to on Drone Deploy when I share the project.

I like the more advanced tools in Pix4D, but I also need to share with the masses that will not be as tech savvy and allow them to do basic things like view, measure, and notate. 

If anyone else has any other feedback or suggestions please share. Thank you. 

Edited by asettino
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56 minutes ago, asettino said:

I like the more advanced tools in Pix4D, but I also need to share with the masses that will not be as tech savvy and allow them to do basic things like view, measure, and notate. 

For basic 3D visualization we use Global Mapper. It offers a lot of the tools available in higher end GIS products (we use ESRI ArcGIS 10.3), at a much more attractive cost.

http://www.bluemarblegeo.com/products/global-mapper.php

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I recently cancelled my subscription to DroneDeploy and am now working steadily with the Pix4D development team regarding features that they will be adding to the cloud version of the software system.  

One of those upcoming features is the ability to add GCPs to the cloud upload.  Also, any desktop processed dataset will also be able to be uploaded to the cloud side for sharing and further annotation.  We are using the BIM version of the software for these specific features.  

 

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In my opinion, Drone Deploy is inferior and a good starter program for this aspect of the industry. Pix4D is definitely a more sophisticated program. For most users, people argue that the cloud in Drone Deploy makes it worthwhile. However, the quality makes the final product weak. It's definitely worth using Pix4D on the desktop. It's commercially the best standard out there. 

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Question for all. So from what I'm hearing  there will be more demand for mapping/surveying from insurance and construction companies. Is Drone Deploy going to be good enough for things like...

-Roof top inspection/mapping (insurance)

-Property mapping (insurance) and for most cases this will not be more than an acre or 2.

-Daily/weekly surveying of construction site

I understand other programs like Pix4D are better, but what do you guys think would be the best for these use cases?

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5 hours ago, Up Sonder said:

Question for all. So from what I'm hearing  there will be more demand for mapping/surveying from insurance and construction companies. Is Drone Deploy going to be good enough for things like...

-Roof top inspection/mapping (insurance)

-Property mapping (insurance) and for most cases this will not be more than an acre or 2.

-Daily/weekly surveying of construction site

I understand other programs like Pix4D are better, but what do you guys think would be the best for these use cases?

Drone Deploy is great for anything that does not require GCPs in large quantity, AND you do not care to have control over the processing end. Anything mapping/survey/construction is going to require GCPs and a minimum of five per job for a small job. Even though Drone Deploy only charges $75US per map for GCPs, over the course of a year you could pay for Pix4D or Correlator3D or any of the other image processing softwares and have total control over your project(s).

By total control I mean you get exactly what you need and you know how accurate the data is (something the customer wants to know). You do not have that option with Drone Deploy.

Project 00001_report_r.pdf

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Hi everyone!

I made 3D model in Photoscan (I used my DJI Phantom 3 pro to collect pictures). Now I have 3D model of surface  from Photoscan.  Another data is: project in CAD - Marcostation - I have some points there.  Now I need to create surface from these points (CAD) and count volume above this surface to 3D model from Photoscan. How can I do it? Many thanks for any tips.

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21 hours ago, Kermange said:

Hi everyone!

I made 3D model in Photoscan (I used my DJI Phantom 3 pro to collect pictures). Now I have 3D model of surface  from Photoscan.  Another data is: project in CAD - Marcostation - I have some points there.  Now I need to create surface from these points (CAD) and count volume above this surface to 3D model from Photoscan. How can I do it? Many thanks for any tips.

I don't use either of the software packages that you mentioned. My best advise would be to read the manual with the package (Photoscan) which should explain how to input GCPs and process the imagery you collected.

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On 4/15/2018 at 10:46 AM, Kermange said:

Hi everyone!

I made 3D model in Photoscan (I used my DJI Phantom 3 pro to collect pictures). Now I have 3D model of surface  from Photoscan.  Another data is: project in CAD - Marcostation - I have some points there.  Now I need to create surface from these points (CAD) and count volume above this surface to 3D model from Photoscan. How can I do it? Many thanks for any tips.

The problem here is that it seems you may have things a bit backwards. Also, without knowing how you controlled both data sets, it is almost impossible to  give you a reliable answer.

The first step should have been to ensure both sets of data are on the same system. You would need known points in both sets in order to do this. Using GPS derived points makes this easier, but for volumes it would not be necessary.  GCP's are relatively easy to use in Photoscan Pro, but you need to know where they are, at least in relationship with each other, to be of any use. It may be easier to use the dense point cloud out of PSP and then bring the two data sets into any number of point cloud programs (CloudCompare is an excellent open source program) that will help you make the calculation. I will admit that I am not used to working with meshes, so maybe that can work. My strong suit is point clouds. The problem is that working with them can require specialized software beyond the normal cad package. CC for instance will allow you to "register" your clouds together. Just treat your cad points as any other point cloud, just like LIDAR. I have not done it, but I be Global Mapper with the LIDAR package has the tools to do it as well.

But again, the data sets need to, some how some way, be on the same system horizontally and vertically. I wrestle with this all the time as I incorporate slam scan data into survey data (conventional and GPS) and LIDAR to create maps. I am just now starting a drone imagery division for my surveying company and hope that the lessons learned from terrestrial scanning will smooth out some of the bumps!

Edited by GAProctor

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GAProctor

Thanks for your answer. Let me explain my problem. My explanation was really bad. I was in rush I apologize. I measured GCP (with GNSS GPS) to make my 3D model accurate. I have very accurate 3D model of surface in coordinate system. But other thing is. I have project from designer in CAD (microstation). This project  is on the same coordinate system as 3D model.  But points from this project are (let's say) under the ground. Level of these points is under the ground in real world :) And I need to know volume, how much ground we need to remove (dig) to reach the project level. I did not find software to be able to do this. Using points and measure volume above these points. It is difference between my 3D model and surface made from points in Microstation. We found the way throug microstation. It works but it is not accurate. If you have any tips, it could also help to your company to do volume calculations. I am going to check it and work for it. Many thanks for your answer.

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Kermange,

I'd have to wrap my head around this for a bit, but initially it seems like it should be somewhat straightforward. The "pit" as it were, is simply an upside down pile, so processing it should be no different than doing standard pile volumes. Maybe the software is having a problem with the "negative" direction, much like some older surveying software I had would go sideways if the coordinate values were negative.

Gary

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I suggest looking into 3Dsurvey.si

It can be gotten thru it's US dist. surveyorssource.com 

True photogrammetry software, you control everything in house.

1 time $3700, you own it.

It can even do some line work.

Edited by jjsflies

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Kermange:  If you are seeing points "underground" or even "above ground", You may have encountered the well known systematic Structure-from-Motion doming/dishing (elevation) error that most (PhotoScan and Pix4D) SfM packages are capable of producing when the images are collected using traditional (linear/parallel) flight lines and the camera lens calibration is not spot on - search the research literature from 2014 (James) forward.

Collecting some overview oblique photos along with the normal image collection helps as well; and good ground control is a must have.

I'm switching to gently curved, convergent, non-traditional (non-linear/non-parallel) flight lines to help mitigate the SfM doming/dishing (elevation) error - flight lines being flown using fixed-wing drones and piloted aircraft.

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I do a lot of volume calculations from Aerial Surveys for mines where they need to calculate material mined as well as material filled. I export the data from Agisoft as a bil file and the use Global Mapper to calculate the volumes. Global Mapper in my opinion is great as you can easily change to different co-ordinate systems and volume calculations are super quick.

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13 hours ago, Harry Schramm said:

I do a lot of volume calculations from Aerial Surveys for mines where they need to calculate material mined as well as material filled. I export the data from Agisoft as a bil file and the use Global Mapper to calculate the volumes. Global Mapper in my opinion is great as you can easily change to different co-ordinate systems and volume calculations are super quick.

Have you compared the point cloud generated with Agisoft with the cloud generated with Global Mapper (Lidar Module/Pixels to points tool) ?

Edited by Dave Pitman

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No I have not. I do not use Global Mapper for point cloud generation, only for the volume calculations using the agisoft data exported in bil or dxf point cloud. I do however measure some points with the GPS on site and then compare the z values with the values on the point cloud to check the accuracy of my data. 

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Okay, thanks anyway.  I don't own either but if the point cloud generated directly from Global Mapper is comparable in quality to Agisoft or Pix4D, then the software is definitely a bargain. I know Blue Marble has been working on their point classification tools too.  Please PM me if you ever do a comparison.

Edited by Dave Pitman

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I didn’t look back through this whole thread so sorry if this has been mentioned.  Have you looked at Zephyr from 3DFlow?  

We use Bentley ContextCapture which is very good but expensive.  We evaluated Zephyr and really liked the developers, something we don’t really like about Bentley.  It’s not as capable as ContextCapture but if your using obliques it’s better than Agisoft, Pix4D and Correlator3D.  

Zephyr was developed for the entertainment industry but they are expanding into industrial inspection. Tell them I recommended it to you and they’ll probably dive you an extended evaluation https://www.3dflow.net/.  

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Chuck, What do you mean by "really liked the developers"? I used Zephyr a couple of years ago. It was OK, though I did like it's ability to take frames from video, but I know they have been upgrading things pretty consistently.

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