Modelling of Road Assets using mobile point cloud data

Another feather in SBL’s cap. SBL was recently awarded a road asset mapping project from mobile point cloud data by a reputed firm of chartered land surveyors in the UK. The project area was mapping a stretch of the A937 highway passing through the town of Laurencekirk, Scotland, UK (see image below).

Picture1

Figure 1 – Project extents shown by highlighted blue and green lines

The length of road that was mapped was 2.3 kms and all road furniture (top and bottom of curbs, road edges, hedges and gates and walls etc.) markings (parking marks, bus stop marks etc) was captured to a high degree of accuracy. A major challenge in the project was that the input point cloud data was provided without RGB values since the mobile LiDAR survey was carried out at night.
SBL carried out the detailed mapping from the mobile point cloud data using “as is”, rule without generalizing or offsetting any feature. Cross section views at distances of less than 7m were used to capture the data to the highest possible accuracy. Check out the images below which depict graphically the level of expertise and care that was taken by the team at SBL to execute the project.

Picture2

Figure 2- Input point cloud data (Isometric View)

Picture3

Figure 3 – Profile view of the curb drawn with vertexes

Picture4

Figure 4 – Digitized top and bottom of curbs

Picture5

Figure 5 – Modelling of street markings

A significant achievement on this project was that SBL provided a “first time right” work with high levels of accuracy in a very short turnaround time of 4 working days. This was possible only because of the dedication and expertise of the LiDAR modelling team of SBL. We hope to come up with more such success stories in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Virtual Reality Trends

VR

In 2017-18 there will be more than 43 million VR users in the world making this a landmark period for VR software and hardware development. Release of newer and better headsets (probably more cost efficient) will be introduced in the market. A lot of big companies are yet to make their foray into this exciting new adventure and that is all set to change in the coming 3-4 years. Inputs of touch and smell which have so far been missing in the immersive experience will be a matter of research and breakthroughs – the actual growth is yet to be witnessed.

Synonymous with growth is investment and business opportunities. Google Daydream has already caught the eye of seasoned venture capitalists and as VR transforms from “good to use” to “essential to have” revenue focussed. New gaming engines will raise their heads to compete against the currently established Unity and Unreal engine probably created by some of the bigger players. Strategic alliances are on the cards with the software and hardware giants exploring options.

VR in social media, marketing, real estate, transport, urban planning, teaching, medicine……the list is endless and so are the possibilities that can be explored. Hollywood is looking at VR in a big way. Special effects and first hand story telling will present the case to be brought on virtually. Faster networks and much higher bandwidths and servers would be in the fore too to handle the terra bytes of data to be transferred and processed.

Post VR like stitching, stabilizing, Prep & Paint and Roto are vital to get a near perfect immersive experience and a lot of production companies prefer to outsource these functions so they can concentrate on their core function of VR Film production considering the number of cameras involved.

Creating a 3D Model of a warehouse using point cloud data

SBL has been making steady and sustained progress in developing its BIM services portfolio over the last couple of years. Our last blog post on our BIM services was nearly 4 months back (October 2016) when we showcased our capabilities to model railway assets using point cloud data acquired from mobile and terrestrial scanners. Since then our BIM and LiDAR teams have been quite busy in working on a variety of BIM and LiDAR projects and pilot samples. One such interesting work was from the UK where our BIM team was given a 3D point cloud data acquired using ZEB-REVO handheld scanner. The ZEB-REVO handheld scanner was used to acquire the internal details of a warehouse at nearly 37000 ppm². The acquired point cloud data had only elevation values and no RGB values. No reference photographs were provided.

Picture1

Figure 1 – Input point cloud data thematically represented by elevation data

The lack of RGB values in the input point cloud data and the absence of reference photographs poses a challenge to anyone desiring to model the individual features present in the data. SBL overcame this challenge due to the availability of highly skilled and experienced modellers who were fully conversant of the features expected to be found in a warehouse. The internal features of the warehouse was modelled with high accuracy using Aecosim Building designer software from Bentley. The 3D model of the warehouse was rendered to create realistic looking and highly accurate photo images of the warehouse. Multiple views of the rendered model are included below.

Picture2

Figure 2- Rendered output of the warehouse (view 1)

Picture3
Figure 3 – Rendered output of the warehouse (view 2)

Picture4
Figure 4 – Rendered output of the warehouse (view 3)

This 3D models was used by the architects of the warehouse to notice design issues or weaknesses in the structural integrity of the site and to predict failures such that preventive maintenance can be done to minimize damage. Architects and engineers can also manipulate 3D models in a way they often can’t with 2D CAD drawings. Professionals are able to test what-if scenarios with their designs in 3D, helping to validate their plans and identify any problems with design quality. In addition, these types of models can also give architects and engineers an accurate picture of how they can change their designs if they need to. Because of the accuracy and flexibility of 3D models, architects and engineers are able to spend less time on the design stage of their projects and more time on the actual completion of each task. Professionals are able to identify any issues ahead of time by using 3D modeling, saving them from having to rework schedules and increase budgets. 

With this project completed successfully, the SBL BIM – LiDAR team once more proves that it has the technical acumen and skills to overcome the toughest of challenges in completing projects in their domain of expertise.

Benefits of Offshoring VR Stitching, Prep, Roto

Virtual Reality also known by Immersive multimedia,computer simulated life, virtual environment is taking the world by storm. Virtual Reality can essentially be described as a replicated environment that is brought to life through the use of highly specific software and hardware in order to provide a completely immersive sensory experience. By focusing on human senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch as well as taste, the created environments give the users an illusion of having entered a completely new world. It is now impacting different spheres of life like Health care, Retail real-estate, education, military training etc.

virtual reality

Turning all of your footage into a 360 spherical stitch. There are challenges that come up during the course of filming like removing distortion leads, strengthening edges, arranging control points, and even though there are software available to do these there is certain amount of manual artistry and work involved which might be time consuming and monotonous. This allows Control to make decisions about where seams are located, their shape and width. Choosing to favor one image over another as an actor nears the edge of frame. Furthermore it allows for additional warping to counteract the effects of parallax, and the ability to control exposure, color and stabilization in a more direct way. Shots that may be impossible to stitch using automatic solutions will need to be done by hand, for example when combining to scenes that were not shot at the same time or even different locations.

Probably one of the chief reasons to consider outsourcing a project for any project, is obviously cost reduction. Third party employment is a significantly cheaper option than hiring one’s own team looking into the fact that these artists demand large pay packages based on their experience and qualifications.. However, this is not the only decisive factor. There are various other considerations that make this practice a beneficial one for VR Production Companies and Freelancers alike. These factors include but are not limited to:

Value for money – Shifting this provides your core production team to focus only on tasks of utmost importance while all the rest is taken off their plate and shifted externally.

Adaptability & Flexibility – Employees & Software would not need to be hired, all that headache is taken care of by the third-party, and allows you to be free of all emotional or practical boundaries of having employees. What’s more, if you remain unsatisfied with the work you can easily opt for someone else.

Talent & Expertise – The biggest benefit of offshore outsourcing is the expertise it provides. They can choose a partner specific to their requirement or ask for changes suiting their needs which a lot of smaller companies would be glad to accommodate. These offshore companies can offer you very competitive rates based on process engineering techniques related to location, resources , software and technical know-how.

Misc & Overhead Cost reduction – Employers don’t have to worry about hiring and then letting go employees after every project, nor do they have to pay for all development application licenses and hardware for every employee. The vendor is responsible for providing the materials necessary for their own teams hence relieving you of any and all team management issues.

How SBL VR can be a best fit as partner

SBL VR is amongst the pioneers to crack the VR post production using ‘CARA for Nuke’ pipeline having had the good fortune of having played a part in the Post stitch and Prep for Jaunt VR in the making of the widely acclaimed “Invisible” series”

vr-invisible

With collaboration with some of the leading production houses in Virtual Reality they are looking forward to expand their aura across the globe and provide the quality services to the emerging VR domain. These include :

  • Seamlessly stitched stereo or mono VR content from commercial or custom multi-camera rigs to create a seamless immersive environment
  • Correcting exposure and white balance differences between cameras to remove distracting visual disparities
  • Stabilize shots during or after stitching to produce a more comfortable, dynamic VR experience without compromising quality
  • An experienced team that can apply Compositing techniques including paint, Roto and tracking, directly on 360° footage
  • Assembly, stitching, color/stereo correction using the latest software including CARA

If you are convinced that outsourcing Virtual Reality development is the right direction for your business to take, feel free to go ahead and get in touch with SBL today

(http://vr.sblcorp.com/). Let’s get started!!

SBL VR cracks the Nuke-CARA pipeline with Jaunt VR in the making of “INVISIBLE” Series

SBL is immensely proud and honored at having been part of “Invisible” – a scripted supernatural drama series in VR and the first major use of this technology – we are thrilled that the widely acclaimed series is now drawing acclaims from experts and audience alike.

We undertook the post processing part of synchronization, stitching together, & finishing and provided the output to the production house and the results are there for all to see. Undoubtedly a lot of credit would go to our immensely talented and imaginative team but we were supported to a great extent by the fabulous CARA pipeline which really set the output quality up quite a few notches. Our impressive production facility and the Technological & Software support that we enjoy, has helped in becoming experts in creating realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional environment, created using interactive software and hardware.
vr-invisible

Having worked with different variations of camera rig, we understand what it needs to generate the kind of output you have in mind and which is cost effective. We come across many individual rigs varying in number and length and were required to sync them together for a smooth work flow. Initially we tried Autopane and experienced flexibility challenges. The point for tweaking and placement of the rig texture for additional cameras was the key problematic area with not much Prep control – so we tried it with Nuke-CARA which gave us control and user-friendly edit options to get the desired stitched quality and work stability for the paint/prep tasks to be implemented.

Groups of high end render farms made our process much stable to execute and save on production time. Burning of midnight oil was a regular feature through the project, but all the dedication, hard work and tenacity of the team paid off when the desired high standards of quality in output were delivered.

This is just the beginning and we look to much bigger achievements but as Virtual Reality goes, the sky is the limit and SBL VR is carving its niche in this rapidly developing space.

Watch “Invisible” episodes online on https://www.jauntvr.com/

GIS 3D feature extraction and modelling for railways using LIDAR technology

With the global drive towards Building Information Modelling (BIM) compliance gathering pace, we have seen an increased requirement for highly accurate and detailed geospatial data within utilities and engineering projects. This has resulted in a corresponding increase in the application of LIDAR technology within these sectors.

In particular, railways have a wide range of complex and critical assets that extend across the rail network. LiDAR survey point cloud data and feature extraction has become an accurate and effective means of modelling, sharing, managing and storing large asset information databases of this sort.

The primary benefit of LIDAR technology lies in its ability to capture assets in 3D. For rail networks, train mounted LIDAR equipment is on the increase because it allows accurate, dense point clouds to be acquired along with the RGB images from the in-cabin video. Having worked on a number of such high-profile projects, SBL has built up a large team of LIDAR modellers and analysts who can process and extract the full range of railway features and assets.

Picture1
Fig 1 A wire frame model of a sample gantry derived from LIDAR point clouds

Railway assets include electrical network and equipment, telecommunication network and equipment, tracks and related features, signal systems and station assets. The advantage of deriving 3 dimensional data from LIDAR point clouds is that it will be accurate to a millimetre level. All the peripheral equipment can be modelled in a 3D environment as well. Along the tunnel sections of the network LiDAR is the only technology that can provide comprehensive, highly accurate information on assets.

Picture2
Fig 2 station and its component assets as captured from LIDAR point clouds

Mapping to high detail and then rendering in various model platforms is the key to usage of LIDAR based capturing of railway assets. All features within the corridor width of the tracks can be captured to the same very high detail. Stations have innumerable assets components but all these components can be captured effectively using LIDAR point clouds. The creation of a real world situation using 3D models has attracted the attention and approval of many of SBL’s stakeholders and partners. Our LIDAR analysts have achieved these impressive results through 3D wire frame and surface modelling. These models were created and delivered in global GIS formats such as .dgn or .dwg or gml.

Picture3
Fig.3 A tunnel section captured from point clouds

This kind of LIDAR technology based railway mapping will benefit different disciplines in different ways. This database will act a pre indicator for drivers and is of great help in their training. For construction engineers it is a monitoring mechanism. For design engineers it the only information provide kinematics of the entire system. For maintenance and operation teams it is a database where they can pinpoint hot spots where repairs are required allowing ground staff to be sent directly to those locations. Using this database a virtual railway stations and tracks can be created for various applications. Overall asset and facilities management will be greatly improved with such a 3-dimensional database.