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City of Launceston 3D Scan Released


Stuart Attenborrow writes:

A new dataset has just been released by City of Launceston (in Tasmania, Australia). It's a 3D scanned mesh of the central city complete with textures broken into 200m square tiles for download in FBX and Sketchup 8.

The dataset is licensed under CC BY 3.0 AU meaning you can copy, distribute, display, make derivative works and make commercial use of the data as long as you give attribution.

The data was open but council didn't have an easy way to convert or distribute the data. Since it was freely available I thought it would be good to try and convert the data to a more user friendly format for everyone else. The company who delivered the scan used the Open Scene Graph Binary format with a custom viewer that leveraged LOD meshes. My workflow for conversion was as follows:

  • I scripted the Open Scene Graph tools to convert the thousands of patches into OBJ files
  • ImageMagick was required to batch process the flipped textures (imported OBJ files showed flipped UV)
  • Python scripting was used to import the small patches into Blender for each tile
  • Blender python was used on each tile .blend file to join the patches for a tile at a given LOD level and automate removing doubles
  • After confirming the data looked good, another Blender python script was used to batch export all tiles at every zoom level into FBX, collect the license and readme files and zip them for delivery
  • The last python script exported Collada format from Blender where Sketchup was then automated with a Ruby script to import and geolocate the file, followed by zipping the result with the license and readme for delivery
  • Finally, I used QGIS to generate a GeoJSON grid clipped to the 3D data bounds and updated with the row/column attributes that matched the zip files naming scheme

After all the data was ready, I created the single page static site using Google Maps that allows a user to click on a tile and download any zoom level in either format.

I'm really interested in seeing what people can do with this data. Please let us know of anything you come up with, be it an interactive game, simulation or city-wide destruction!

About Author

Stuart Attenborrow

I'm a software developer and 3D generalist in Tasmania, Australia. I switched from the industry standard 3D software a decade ago when Blender 2.5 was released. It had a great UI, was feature rich and (most importantly) it was stable.


  1. Oh man, that looks great. I've been trying to figure out a way to do this with my home town, Fairbanks Alaska. Unfortunately I know nothing about coding and such, so I don't think I could follow your workflow at all. So could you explain again where the 3d scan or textures for the 3d buildings came from? I have considered flying a drone past buildings in Fairbanks to photoscan them, but that would take an eternity, probably. I

    • Hi Tyson, the scans came from a company that specialize in large scale photogrammetry. They used a helicopter and captured the city within a day or two, then spent a couple of weeks processing it. The cost is outside the realm of an individual - you'd want to contact your local government and get them to commission it.

  2. Francisco Ortiz on

    Wow! That's amazing!

    Thank you for sharing this amazing work and your beautiful workflow Stuart.

    Hey guys is it possible to see the textures somehow? I guess the .zip files (FBX format) contains only the geometry ;)

  3. Francisco Ortiz on

    Bingo! I can see the textures now Stuart! What a joy! :)
    Thank you so much for the tip.

    For those who wanna try: don't forget to add a sun lamp an switch to GLSL mode, folks ;)

  4. This looks seriouly cool!!

    Thanks also for your work cleaning up the data!
    Could you maybe write short instructions how to load these into Blender? The textures don't show up, even after saving and reopening.

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