Point Cloud Overview

An overview of working with Point Clouds in Twinmotion.

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Point Clouds are collections of data points that are typically acquired in the context of architectural or industrial applications with 3D scanners. Point Clouds are used by design visualization specialists, manufacturers, set designers, and builders who need to overlay 3D models with laser scanned data.

Point Clouds are imported into Twinmotion as objects, and provide you with the ability to compare and aggregate as-built (real-world) laser scanned data with planned data (3D models), and to view all the components of an entire project all at once.

How It Works

Point Clouds are created using 3D scanners or photogrammetry software that scan and measure the physical properties of geological areas or objects, such as buildings. The 3D scanner or photogrammetry software scans an object or area and creates accurate measurements from different locations. Then it converts this information into a collection of data points, where each point is defined by its XYZ geometric coordinate. In addition, these techniques can optionally collect color and normal vector direction information. All the data points are then aggregated to create a Point Cloud that can be imported into 3D modeling software to accurately represent the object or area.

The typical workflow when working with Point Clouds is as follows:

  1. The site of interest is scanned with a 3D laser scanner. Multiple scans are created from different locations and angles.

  2. Using the data points captured during the scans, a Point Cloud is assembled using 3D Point Cloud processing software or a 3D scanner vendor specific application.

  3. The Point Cloud is saved in file formats such as .las, .laz, or .e57.

  4. The Point Cloud can then be imported into Twinmotion as an object.

Supported Point Cloud File Formats

Twinmotion supports the following Point Cloud file formats:

File Format

Description

.e57

An open-source compact file format that stores and exchanges 3D imaging data—such as Point Clouds, images, and metadata—most often acquired using 3D scanners.

The .e57 file format is not supported on MacOS.

.las, .laz

LAS is a popular open-source binary file format that is used for interchanging 3D laser scanned Point Cloud data between users.

The LAZ file format is a compressed LAS file. LAZ files are smaller than LAS files, but take more time to import.

Twinmotion supports 8-bit, 12-bit, and 16-bit LAS and LAZ files.

.xyz, .txt, .pts

ASCII Point Cloud file formats that contain either X,Y,Z point coordinates, or X,Y,Z point coordinates and RGB colors.

Integration with Twinmotion features

As Point Clouds are imported into Twinmotion as objects, Twinmotion interacts with them in the same manner as objects, with a few exceptions. Below are a few notable ways in which Twinmotion interacts with Point Clouds.

Non-Photorealistic Rendering Styles

Various rendering styles can be applied to Point Cloud objects when viewing them in Twinmotion's Presenter mode, and in Local Presentations.

Default rendering style

Foam rendering style

The Rendering Styles option can be found in the Eye menu.

Collision Volumes

Collision volumes can be defined as hidden geometric shapes that surround objects and that determine how objects collide or interact with one another. All objects in Twinmotion have collision volumes, including Point Cloud objects. This means that you can select a Point Cloud object, drag and drop objects from the Library onto Point Cloud objects, add animation—such as characters walking on a path—that take Point Cloud objects into consideration, and change the color and color properties of Point Cloud objects.

The precision at which an object can be dropped onto a Point Cloud depends on the precision of the collision volume that was applied to the Point Cloud object.

Collision volumes

Animated character path on a Point Cloud object

Shadows and Lighting

Point Cloud objects are affected by shadows from the Twinmotion dynamic sky and by shadows that are cast from other objects in the scene. For example, if you change the Time of day, the shadows on the Point Cloud objects will change depending on the time of day selected.

Object casting shadow on Point Cloud

Library object casting a shadow on a Point Cloud

Shadow from the Twinmotion dynamic sky

Shadows from the Twinmotion dynamic sky

In addtion, the scene Lighting parameters, found in the Visual Settings, such as Skydome, Exposure, White balance, Sun intensity, Moon intensity, Ambient lighting as well as any lights that have been added from the Twinmotion Library Lights category have an effect on Point Cloud objects.

Lights on a Point Cloud

Lights from the Twinmotion Library on a Point Cloud

For more information on the Lighting parameters in Visual Settings, refer to Visual Settings for Media.

Decals

Decals from the Twinmotion Library can be applied to Point Cloud objects.

Decal on a Point Cloud

Decal applied to a Point Cloud object

The Offset setting of decals refers to the depth of application of the decal. For best results when placing decals on a Point Cloud object, it is recommended to increase the value of the offset because Point Clouds are not imported as geometry but as a collection of data points. By default, the offset values range from 0.01 to 100, but can be overridden up to 1000.

Decals can be found in the Twinmotion Library under Objects.

Section Cubes

With the Section Cubes tool in Twinmotion, you can cut or hide objects or portions of objects. The Section Cubes tool can be used on geometry and on Point Cloud objects.

In the Clipping mask setting of Section Cubes, you can choose if you want to hide Point Clouds only, geometry only, or both.

Section Cubes can be found in the Library under Tools > Sections.

Section cube

Section cube hiding part of an object and a Point Cloud

Measure Tool

The Measure tool—available in the Library under Tools > Measure—can be used to measure objects and to measure the distance between objects in a scene. It can be used on Point Cloud objects, but the precision of the measurements depend on the precision of the collision volume that surrounds a Point Cloud object.

Measure tool

The Measure tool in Twinmotion

Virtual Reality

Point Cloud objects are visible in virtual reality (VR). However, as the viewing quality in VR mode depends on the frames per second rate (fps) set by the VR headset, the visibility status and size of data points in the Point Clouds may vary as you navigate the scene within a VR headset.

Reflection Probes

Reflection Probes are used to improve reflections and surpass the limits of Screen Space Reflections (SSR) in Twinmotion. Point Cloud objects are reflected correctly when used with Reflection Probes.

Merging Twinmotion Files

Separate Twinmotion files can be merged together and saved as one Twinmotion file. Twinmotion files that contain Point Cloud objects can be merged with other Twinmotion files.

Local Presentations

Point Clouds that are contained within images, videos, or panoramas in a presentation can be exported to a Local Presentation.

Resource Collector

With the Resource Collector in Twinmotion, you can collect any textures and assets that are used in a Twinmotion project along with the .tm file into one packaged ZIP file. Point Cloud objects that are used in a Twinmotion project will be included in the ZIP file.

Camera Settings in Visual Settings

The Camera visual settings—Field of view (FoV), Depth of field (DoF), Parallelism, Vignetting, Lens flare, Visual Effects, and Scene States—are applied to Point Cloud objects.

Visual effects not applied

Hatching filter in Camera > Visual effects

For more information on the Camera settings, refer to Visual Settings for Media.

Point Cloud Properties

The following Point Cloud properties can be modified in Twinmotion.

Property

Description

Point size

This setting modifies the size of all the data points in a Point Cloud. Increasing the size can help in filling out the surface of Point Clouds when the data points are not close together. If this option is set to 0, each data point uses a fixed size of 1 px, regardless of camera distance and data point density.

Options: 0.0 to 3.0. Values can be overridden.

Cast shadows

Determines if Point Clouds cast self-shadows or cast shadows on other objects.

Options: On, Off

Point shape

Sets the shape of the data point.

Options: Square, Circle

Color source

Controls the color source that is used to display the Point Cloud data.

Solid color: Applies a solid color to the Point Cloud data. The properties of the color such as Saturation, Contrast, Intensity, and Tint can be changed.

Data: The color embedded in the Point Cloud data, as captured by the 3D scanner. If the Point Cloud data does not contain color, the data points will be displayed in white.

Elevation: Shows you the highest and lowest elevations of the Point Cloud data related to the position of the camera when the 3D scan was performed. The highest and lowest elevations are represented by two colors, and the points in between the highest and lowest elevations are colored using a gradient between the two values. You can define the Tint of the colors that are used to represent the highest and lowest elevation points, and the properties of the colors such as Saturation, Contrast, and Intensity.

Position: Shows you how close or far away the 3D scanner was positioned from a data point when performing the scan. The proximity is represented by two colors, and the points in between the closest and farthest areas are colored using a gradient between the two values. The Tint of the colors that are used to represent the proximity of the camera can be changed, as well as the Saturation, Contrast, and Intensity of the colors.

Options: Solid color, Data, Elevation, Position

Color source > More

Sets the Saturation, Contrast, Intensity, and Tint of the selected color source.

Collision Quality

The collision quality sets the detection level of collisions between Point Cloud data and 3D models or objects. This influences how 3D models and objects interact with or collide with Point Cloud data.

If you do not need to have objects closely and accurately interacting with Point Cloud data, this setting can be set to Low. Using a High collision quality has a high computational cost.

Options: Low, High

Point Cloud Export Settings

Before locally exporting a scene that contains Point Cloud objects, you can adjust the rendering quality of Point Clouds to Low, Medium, High, and Ultra, in the Quality tab of the Preferences panel.

Higher quality parameters improve the rendering quality of Point Cloud objects, but result in a longer processing time for rendering and higher VRAM usage.

To access the Quality tab in the Preferences panel, click the Burger menu, select Preferences, and click Quality.

Point Cloud Limitations

Point Cloud objects in Twinmotion have the following limitations.

  • Point Clouds cannot be modified in Twinmotion: you cannot delete points or merge Point Cloud objects together.

  • The Datasmith Exporter plugins do not currently support Point Clouds. Although some applications such as Revit or ArchiCAD can display Point Clouds, they are not translated with the Datasmith Exporter plugins. You will need to load them separately in Twinmotion.

  • The Path Tracer does not support Point Cloud objects. If the Path Tracer is enabled in a project that contains a Point Cloud file, the Point Cloud file will be invisible.

  • Point Cloud objects in a presentation cannot be exported to Twinmotion Cloud. If a presentation that contains Point Clouds is uploaded to Twinmotion Cloud, any Point Cloud object will not appear in the presentation.

  • Point Cloud objects cannot be saved in the Twinmotion Library.

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