In July this year there’s something very cool happening in Perth called the BIM Day Out. As you can imagine it’s all about BIM (building information modelling) which i’m sure any of you architects out there will be familiar with, but for photographers reading along it’s basically 3D modelling of buildings injected with lots and lots of data.

One of the organisers, Matt Rumbelow, has been on my case for a couple months to speak at the event on photogrammetry. That’s because in my architect days I was a complete BIM geek and because i’ve now shifted into photography it’s a nice little cross over of skills. But what do I know about photogrammetry. Absolutely nothing. So the idea is that as a complete new user I have to test all the latest and greatest photogrammetry software (and hopefully some toys like helicopter drones) and report back to the conference.

But what is photogrammetry I hear you ask?

It’s the creation of 3D computer models by using photos. You circle the building taking a few happy snaps and then a big ass computer figures out all the geometry for you. Now that’s kind of cool, but it’s not what blew my mind. What did was this clip by Brian Mathews which showed where this technology could be applied.

Here’s a couple of the stand out ideas form the clip

  • The creation of existing conditions models based only on photos. No measurements, just walk through a building and it gets mapped.
  • Stap your camera onto a remote controlled helicopter and now you start to be able to photo map entire buildings including their roof tops.
  • Now take that individual building and plug it into a global model and we start to model the entire world and end up with Google Earth on steroids.
  • Now lets get rid of the technology hurdles of capturing the images and instead crowd source the images that we are already taking on our smart phones. Yep, all those diverse and varied images of our cities probably already exist and the technology to make it happen is already in our pockets. It makes Google’s backpack camera (see pic here) looks like a crazy russian jetpack from the 1950’s in comparison.
  • And here’s a non architectural application. Imagine taking photos of your feet and then creating a 3D model which can then be used to print out a pair of shoes that fit you perfectly.

As all this sunk in I realised how powerful this technology is going to be. As you can tell i’m pretty excited and looking forward to being involved. Thanks Matt for nagging me enough that I gave in. For more info on the conference you can check out the BIM Day Out website here.