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[Tutorial] Extract Google Earth 3D models with Pix4D and PV*SOL premium 2018




Extract Google Earth 3D models with Pix4D and PV*SOL premium 2018 



[Full Traskript] 


1. Create screenshots in Google Earth Pro

2. Photogrammetry with Pix4D

3.  Import of the 3D model into PV*SOL premium


First, start Google Earth Pro.

For this video I chose a free-standing, relatively complex building in England.

Here I enter the coordinates of the object.

A 3D model is to be extracted from this object.

First, I determine the size of an edge of the model. This is later used in PV*SOL to reproduce the scale.

To do this I use the ruler function of Google Earth and draw a 3D path to an edge that is well visible.

The measured length of the edge is approx. 20m.

In the next step I will take about 30 - 40 screenshots of the scene to create a 3D model in Pix4D.

In order to achieve an optimal result with photogrammetry, all labels and menus should be hidden first.

Now the screenshots can be made. Recommendation:

take pictures at 3 different altitudes:

-          12 pictures at the height of the ridge or the highest point of the building.

-          8 pictures from different angles of the bird's eye view

-          12 pictures at a height of 3 meters

Make sure

-          that the target building is always completely visible,

-          that potential additional shading objects are visible,

-          and that the pictures are not too twisted.

The more images that are created from different perspectives, the better the 3D model created later on will be.

In some photogrammetry programs it is useful to take some close-ups as well.

Also move the mouse out of the picture before creating the screenshot, so that the mouse cursor is not visible in the picture!

After you have made the 30-40 screenshots, start Pix4Desktop.

You can currently download this program as a 14-day trial version by creating a customer account on:


After you have started Pix4Dmapper Pro, you will be taken to the "Home" page of the program.

First, create a new project.

The "New Project"dialog opens.

Here you can select the project folder.

Enter the project name here.

In the next step the screenshots will be added.

Click on "Add Images".

Now select all screenshots with "Ctrl-A".

The following message can be ignored.

Here you can now see an overview of the geodata and the camera model, which were determined from the images.

Due to the fact that I made screenshots, not much data is included.

The following pages are currently not interesting.

Click your way through.

On the last page you can see an overview of the level of detail expected for the finished 3D model and how long the creation process will probably take.

Select the menu item "3D Models" and then click "Finish".

The map view is now displayed.

This is not interesting at the moment, because there is no geoinformation in the pictures.

The next step is to create the 3D model. Before I click on "Start", let's first look at the options for this.

Click "Process", and then click "Process Options".

At first, only the settings for "Process" and "Point Cloud and Mesh"are interesting.

I leave the general process options unchanged. Make sure that "Keypoints Image Scale" --> "Full" is selected.

You can experiment a little later on with the settings for the "Point Cloud" to get an even better result. I leave the settings unchanged.

A few things have to be adapted to the mesh options so that the 3D model can be imported correctly into PV*SOL premium later on.

I want the textures from the screenshots to be transferred into the 3D model.

We set the "Maximum Octree Depth" to 14.

The maximum "Texture Size" should be 4096 pixels.

The maximum number of triangles has to be limited for the level of detail, because PV*SOL premium currently only accepts 3D models with a maximum of 500,000 points.  You can achieve this with the decimation strategy "Sensitive".

A model file is automatically generated after photogrammetry is complete. Here you specify that this file is to be created in obj format.

Now the 3D model can be created.

First, perform step 1 only!

This process can take several minutes. I'm fast-forwarding.

The result now shows the reproduced positions of the camera and the tie points.

The camera positions can be hidden.

Unfortunately, the program sometimes has difficulties in determining the correct position of the model from the screenshots.

Here you can see a completely unnatural slope which has to be corrected.

The "Orientation Constraints" function is used to correct the alignment and inclination of the model.

Place the ends of the 3D arrow at a distance you know to be parallel to the height axis. (Here z-axis!!)

Step 1 must now be revised.

The model has now been corrected. Next, the triangle mesh can be generated.

I'm fast-forwarding again. ;)

Now the 3D model is already complete and can be viewed.

If you want to view the mesh, you must first activate "Triangle Meshes".

I just want to view the triangulated mesh and disable the other elements.

You can see that the 3D model is already close to the Google original.

Now open PV*SOL premium 2018 or a higher version!

I am already in the 3D visualization of PV*SOL premium and have started a new project there.

Now import the 3D model you created with Pix4D. To do so, click this button.

You will find the. obj file, as well as materials and texture in the project folder that Pix4D has created.

I simply place the 3D model in the middle of the terrain.

As you can see, the 3D model is stored in an unusual coordinate system, which has to be corrected.

To do this, double-click on the model and select the "Tilt backward" option.

The model has also been well imported into PV*SOL premium. Here already with representation of the shading.

Now check the distance measured in Google Earth.

To do this, draw a PV area polygon.

As you can see, the model is not to scale. It must be corrected (see video).

The alignment must also be adjusted!

The building can then be covered with PV modules. :)

End of the tutorial.

Thank you for watching!

The computer program shown is PV*SOL premium, a design software by Valentin Software in the field of photovoltaics / renewable energy. The priorities of this software are design support and yield calculation. The integrated 3D visualization determines the impact of shading on the yield. Another focus is on the cost-effectiveness of photovoltaic systems with and without self-consumption

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