Importing Objects
Point Cloud Import
3D Model Import
Drawing Import

To import an object into Pointools View select the File / Import command from the main menu or alternatively use the Ctrl+I shortcut.

Point Cloud Import
Point cloud data can be imported from a number of different formats. We add new importers often so please check our website to get the latest importer plug-ins. Pointools generates a native pod (Points Database) file on import of cloud data from other formats. This enables rapid background streaming of cloud data and provides a compact file format.

Common Options
When you import a cloud / scan data file you are presented with an option dialogue box containing general cloud import options and options specific to the particular file type. The general options are discussed here with detail on the specific file type options in the following sections.
Combine into One Cloud
Combines all the imported scans into a single cloud. This can help performance if there are many overlapping scans. Combining does not work well when there are scans of greatly varying density and this may result in drop-out of visual density in lower density areas.

If you want to view individual scans do not use this option.
Compression
POD files compress cloud data for efficient storage and faster retrieval from disk. You can set the accuracy you wish to maintain. It is important to consider the accuracy of the instrument used to acquire the data and to not set the compression accuracy to high. If the required accuracy cannot be achieved the data will not be compressed.
Rescale Intensities to Cover Full Range
This option will cause the intensity values to be scaled to cover the entire range of intensities increasing the 'contrast' in the intensity image. This usually results in a more photographic appearance when using the greyscale intensity ramp.
Uniform spatial filter
This option will filter the data on import to the specified point spacing.
Multiple File Import
Most of the importers allow multiple file import in a single session. If multiple file import is supported the following options are available.
Add File
Adds a file for import to the file list
Add Folder
Adds all the files that are in the same folder as the last added file
Clear Files
Clears the list of files for import

In addition to these options, scan ordered formats allow the generation of normals for lighting and have the following options.
Generate Normals
Indicates that Pointools should calculate normals on import. Normals are required for point lighting and cannot be generated at a later stage.
Normal Quality
Indicates the size of the sample used in normal generation resulting in a quality ranging from Smooth to Sharp.
Retain Point Order
Store the point order within the POD file. This information is not currently used within Pointools software but is likely to have application in future releases. Note that if the POD file is generated without this information it cannot be generated at a later date

Ascii Import
The ascii importer provides the most flexible and configurable means of importing point cloud data since most cloud handling applications allow export in a raw ascii format. This provides a convenient method of data exchange between applications. The upper part of the dialogue box provides an interface for multiple file import as described in the proceeding section. The middle part of the dialogue box is shown below



Part of the ascii importer interface


The data grid shows the first 20 lines of the file and can be scrolled using the scrollbars, the mouse wheel or panned using the middle mouse button. The header of the grid contains a drop menu for each of the data fields in the file. The importer guesses the field types based on common ascii formats and in most cases these will be correct. If a field has been set incorrectly use the drop menus to set it to the correct value.

Note: If you are importing multiple files it is important that all the files follow the format you have configured in the data grid, otherwise data may not be imported correctly.

The data grid is followed by the following options
Geometry units
Describes the units used for geometry values in the file
Intensity Units
Describes the units used in the Intensity field. If you are not familiar with the file format you may need to inspect a number of rows to determine the intensity units.
RGB Colour units
Describes the units used in the Red, Green and Blue fields. These are either byte values ranging from 0 to 255 or floating point values ranging from 0 to 1.

Pointools V1.0-1.1 POD import
The pod format in View 1.5 has changed since 1.1 to give better loading performance. Pointools v.1.0-1.1 must be converted to v1.5 for use in View 1.5. For this reason attempting to open a 1.0-1.1 pod file will bring up an importer option dialogue box.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

TerraScan Bin import
The bin importer provides support for import of Terrascan bin files. Not all versions of the bin file are supported but support for a wider range of version is being added. Please check our website for details.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

For general tips on import of LIDAR data please refer to the LIDAR Import section at the end of this chapter.

LAS format import
The las importer provides support for version 1.0 and 1.1 of the LAS specification. In addition the proposed H3D LAS extension for terrestrial laser scanning is also supported. For more information about this format please visit www.heritage3d.org

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

For general tips on import of LIDAR data please refer to the LIDAR Import section at the end of this chapter.

PTX Import
This is Leica's / Cyra's ordered ascii scan format from Cyclone that is a common interchange format for ordered scans. Pointools View includes support for the new RGB ptx specification.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

Note that if you want to retain an intensity shading similar to that in Cyclone™ you should not use the Scale Intensities option.

PTS Import
This is Leica's / Cyra's unordered ascii scan format from Cyclone™. The file contains the number of points in its first line followed by the point data. This file type may contain multiple scans

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

Note that if you want to retain an intensity shading similar to that in Cyclone you should not use the Scale Intensities option.

FLS Import
This is FARO's ordered proprietary scan data format. Each fls file can contain one or more scans from a single scan position.

Due to a limitation in the FARO import library dlls it is not possible to import both RGB and Intensity values at the same time. For this reason you can choose which to import if both are available. The other options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

Note that this importer is not installed by the standard installation package. To use this importer please download the FARO import plug-in installer from our website.

FWS Import
This is FARO's workspace format that references FLS files and may contain additional registration information.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

Note that this importer is not installed by the standard installation package. To use this importer please download the FARO import plug-in installer from our website.

Riegl 3dd import
This is Riegl's proprietary scan data format. Note that Pointools does not read transformation information from the .3dd format.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

The RGB import from 3dd files takes the raw unbalanced colour from the scan. This may vary from what is seen in RiScan™. Future versions of this importer will provide RGB balancing options.

Riegl rsp import
This is Riegl's RiScan™ proprietary XML based project file format including references to scans, registration data, references to images with calibration data and references to models. Currently only scan data and scan registration information is imported.

The upper half of the interface is split into two. The left side represents the RiScan project file in a tree structure. This should look quite familiar to RiScan users as the structure is very similar. The right side represents the Pointools project with a single POD file by default, similar to the objects tree.



RSP importer interface


To import data from the RiScan project the required scans should be added from the left side to the right. The following options describe how this is done.

RSP Scans

Add Scan to POD >>
Adds the selected scan to the selected POD database. Used scans are shown as greyed out in the RiScan tree.
<< Remove cloud from POD
Removes the clouds in the POD database and makes them available in the RiScan tree.

Add Mode

Combine
Sets the add mode to Combine. When you add multiple scans in a single operation, these will be combined into a single POD cloud.
Single
Sets the add mode to Single. When you add multiple scans in a single operation, these will be added as single POD clouds.

Scan Select

All
Selects all the scans in the RiScan project.
Coloured
Selects the coloured scans in the RiScan project.
Intensity
Selects the scans with intensity in the RiScan project.
Computed
Selects the computed point clouds in the RiScan project.
Panorama
Selects all scans in the RiScan project with the word panorama in the scan name.
Detail
Selects all scans in the RiScan project with the word detail in the scan name.
None
Deselects all scans in the RiScan project.
Scans containing text
Selects the scans in the RiScan project containing the text entered in the adjacent text box.

POD Databases

The rsp importer allows the generation of multiple POD files. By default there is only one POD file generated, but additional database files can be added. When using multiple POD files be sure to select the POD file you wish to import scans into before adding scans, otherwise the last POD database is always used.
New POD Database
Adds a new POD database.
Remove POD Database
Removes the selected POD database.

Actions

Actions simplify the adding on scans by setting up some commonly used configurations. Note that these actions ignore the current add mode.
Add all scans as combined cloud
This adds all the RiScan scans as a single combined POD cloud.
Add all scans as single clouds
This adds each RiScan scan as a single POD cloud.
Add scan positions as combined clouds
This adds all the RiScan scans under each scan position as a combined POD cloud for all of the RiScan scan positions.

Name
Allows the renaming of POD clouds. Select the cloud, type in the new name and click rename to accept.

DeltaSphere3000 rtpi import
This 3rd Techs proprietary scan format for their DeltaSphere3000 scanner. Note that this format represents a raw scan and does not include any registration information.

The options available in this importer are described in the Common Import Options section above.

Some Considerations when Importing LIDAR data
Pointools can handle very large LIDAR datasets and deliver good performance but care must be taken when setting import options in order to achieve good performance.
* Do not set the compression accuracy too high, typically LIDAR data has an accuracy of 10-15cm or at best 6-7cm. Setting accuracy too high can hit performance very badly. For most datasets 1cm works well.
* If you have tiled datasets with each tile of 10 million points or more in separate files, do not combine the data on import. This usually gives better results and also gives you the ability to turn tiles on and off.
* Some graphics cards seem to have difficulty dealing with the large coordinate range of large lidar projects. This may cause 'drop out' of some areas as you zoom in. This issue will be addressed by the next release.


3D Model Import
3D models are imported directly into Pointools View and do not require conversion.

The following limitations apply when importing 3d model geometry:
* Only polygon meshes are supported, there is no support for NURBS and other interpolated surface geometry representations.
* UV, planar and box texture mapping are supported, other mappings modes are not. For the best results always use UV mapping.
* Only the colour texture channels are currently supported. If no colour texture is found the diffuse channel texture is used if available.
* The following import formats are supported:

3DStudio™ 3ds
This is 3DStudio's 3ds format. Non geometry objects such as cameras and animations are not currently imported.

The 3ds importer has the following options:

Smoothing

Use smoothing groups in 3ds file
This uses the smoothing groups information in the 3ds file and only applies smoothing within smoothing groups.
Smooth everything
This uses the smoothing groups information in the 3ds file and only applies smoothing within smoothing groups.
Do not smooth
Does not perform any smoothing.

Units

Sets the geometry units of the model. 3DS models are often modeled in different units.

This format is not suitable for the import of large meshes.

Lightwave™ lwo
This is Newtek's Lightwave object format. Pointools View supports the lwo2 generated with Lightwave versions 6.0b or later.

This format is not suitable for the import of large meshes.

Alias Wavefront™ obj
This is Alias Wavefront's Obj format commonly used for data interchange between applications. The obj importer supports the use of vertex colour values.

This is the best format for import of large meshes such as those generated from scan data.


Drawing Import
Drawings are imported directly into Pointools View and do not require conversion. Support for drawings has improved considerably since previous versions and a much wider range of drawing primitives are now imported.

The following formats can be imported:

AutoCAD DXF and DWG
Versions R12 to 2006 of dwg and dxf can be imported into Pointools View. There is no need to explode blocks before import. Note that these are not suitable formats for import of 3D models. Although 3d faces are imported, it is not possible to use lighting on drawings. 3D solids are converted to linework.

ESRI Shapefile
All Shapefile element types are imported with the exception of meshes.