Effectively Using Point Cloud Fly-throughs for Marketing

Takeaways from the largest online collection of project showcase videos

On social media, the average post receives only a few seconds of attention. At trade shows, first impressions determine whether attendees visit a booth. The first moments also set the tone when clients evaluate newly received reality capture deliverables. How can surveyors and reality capture professionals signal the quality of their work in such short time spans? Tackling this question, the NUBIGON community has published hundreds of fly-through videos and social media posts over the past two years. This article discusses the driving forces and main takeaways of these efforts.

The point cloud of a commercial building overlaid with the BIM model.

Technology Is Levelling the Playing Field

As laser scanning and photogrammetry solutions become more user-friendly and affordable, access to cutting-edge technology is opening up. Falling entry barriers intensify competition among service providers, often leading to unsustainable price wars. Meanwhile, it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the competition as differentiating factors become more nuanced and harder to communicate.

Gaining Attention with a Visual Elevator Pitch

On the opposite side, clients demanding reality capture services are constantly inundated by marketing emails, sponsored social media posts, online ads and cold calls. Understandably, they struggle to filter signal from the noise when choosing a service provider. To excel in this climate, reality capture firms need to communicate their expertise clearly and concisely. To that end, fly-through videos can be a powerful tool to showcase reality capture projects, grab viewers’ attention and trigger a positive first impression.

Challenges of Generating Reality Capture Fly-throughs

Most reality capture firms have limited marketing budgets and only occasionally employ experienced video producers. For many, professional 3D animation tools are too time-consuming to master. What’s more, these solutions rarely support the entire range of reality capture data from point clouds to CAD and BIM deliverables effectively. Animation tools of bundled point cloud processing software packages, on the other hand, sorely lack the ease and versatility to be deployed regularly.

Assembling the Largest Collection of Point Cloud Animations

About two years ago, the point cloud visualization and animation software NUBIGON stepped in to fill this vacuum. Since then, the NUBIGON community has produced thousands of videos showcasing reality capture projects from all around the world.

More than 160 user-prepared videos with several hours of footage are featured on the software’s YouTube channel and make up the largest collection of point cloud fly-throughs on the internet. In this collection, you will find datasets captured with every major laser scanner brand and model, displaying a large selection of sites ranging from historic landmarks and infrastructure projects to commercial buildings, industrial facilities and more. All of this content helps us to draw crucial lessons for reality capture marketing.

Explore the point cloud fly-through collection of the NUBIGON Community

Takeaway #1: With the Right Solution, Fly-throughs Are Surprisingly Easy to Produce

Between on-site data capture and preparation of deliverables, it can feel daunting to prepare promotional fly-through videos. However, NUBIGON is specifically geared towards reality capture professionals. It is therefore incredibly easy to produce point cloud visualizations and animations, even without prior experience in animation.

Most members of the NUBIGON user community publish videos within the first few days of their subscription. A rich set of video tutorials and free training sessions for long-term subscribers allow users to hit the ground running.

Takeaway #2: It Matters How You Visualize Point Clouds

It is widely accepted that the visual quality of a point cloud is crucially defined by parameters such as the competence of the team, the capture method, the laser scanner brand/model and the registration process. There is, however, a growing recognition that the choice of point cloud visualization solution makes a significant difference as well.

First and foremost, it is crucial to look for solutions that can render massive point clouds seamlessly. Showcasing projects with decimated datasets does not do justice to the efforts that go into data capture. With a solution like NUBIGON, full-resolution point clouds can be displayed with distinct realism, ready to impress even non-technical audiences.

The point cloud of a terrestrial laser scan displayed with a custom colour scale for intensity.

Second, it is now much easier to visualize point clouds thanks to an ever-expanding selection of display modes. All too often, creating custom colour scales for elevation and intensity and using X-ray or shaded views can convey the message much more effectively than the traditional low-resolution point cloud display.

Takeaway #3: Combine Deliverables for a Complete Project Presentation

Point clouds are the workhorse of reality capture but are often treated just as an intermediate asset to develop and validate as-built models in CAD/BIM. Only rarely do clients see point clouds together with CAD and BIM in the same 3D scene. From a sales and marketing standpoint, this is a missed opportunity.

A mobile scan of a residential building overlaid with the associated floor plan.

A fly-through combining these deliverables can be a powerful tool to cap a project and effectively signal the quality of the scan-to-BIM services. This is even true if clients are provided with an online solution where they can engage with the data. First impressions can be curated much more effectively with a fly-through that is shared alongside online access to data. Furthermore, not every stakeholder can be expected to thoroughly explore the data. For those stakeholders, a project showcase video is a convenient way to get a sense of the project quickly.

Takeaway #4: Visuals Can Speak a Thousand Words

Reality capture is an inherently visual industry. And yet, when it comes to marketing reality capture technologies and services, the visual element has not been utilized as effectively as it could be. Notable laser scanner manufacturers like NavVis and GeoSLAM, along with a rapidly growing number of surveying, engineering and architecture firms from around the world, are now deploying fly-throughs to let the point cloud data speak for itself. In mere seconds, audiences get a glimpse into their world, establishing a bond with them one video at a time. Explore it for yourself today.