Reality Capture

Reality Capture

Reality Capture is the practice of digitizing the real world into a computer format. This can take the form of laser scanning, manual measurements, survey, or photogrammetry. Most Reality Capture projects will involve some combination of these techniques with the result being either a point cloud, mesh, or CAD/BIM model. In addition to geometric capture some projects will also record and digitize extended data from the site. Items like serial numbers, make/model, manufacturer can all be captured an integrated into an Intelligent Model.

About Laser Scanning

3D Laser scanning, also known as HDS Surveying (High Definition Surveying) or LiDAR, is a technology that uses lasers to measure and capture the real world in 3D. Currently there are many different types of scanners each with varying speeds, accuracies, ranges, durability and general uses. At PMC we own and operate a fleet of equipment ensuing the best tool is used for the job in hand as no one scanner does everything. 


No matter which scanner is used the basic principle is the same. A laser is fired out and for every surface that the laser hits a point in space is recorded (xyz). At the same time the scanner will record the reflectivity of the surface giving an intensity value, and nowadays most scanners also have built in cameras which provide color and an RGB value to each point. These points are captured at speeds of up to 1 million points of data per second creating a very dense point cloud of data. 


PMC has been scanning for over 15 years. For more information on the history of laser scanning see our recorded webinar on the topic.

About Photogrammetry 

One of the newer technologies in Reality Capture, photogrammetry is the art and science of making measurements from photographs, especially for recovering the exact positions of surface points. Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography, dating to the mid-19th century and in the simplest example, the distance between two points that lie on a plane parallel to the photographic image plane, can be determined by measuring their distance on the image, if the scale (s) of the image is known. 

In the last few years computers and software have advanced to the point where large amounts of photos can be processed into 3D point cloud and model data. This data is similar to more traditional laser scan data but at a much-reduced accuracy.  


Traditional laser scanning methods can have limitations when there are large, inaccessible, or unsafe areas that need to be scanned. Under these circumstances, drones (UAV's) need to be utilized to collect the necessary data. PMC has multiple FAA-certified drone pilots to capture the data of these locations. Photogrammetry takes the photos captured by the drone, creates a point cloud to measure the distances between components , and can be turned into a fully rendered 3D model.
















Drone Capture and Aerial Photogrammetry

Selecting a Source for Reality Capture 

As the technology for Reality Capture has become more widespread so has the differences between quality service providers and sub-par ones. Choosing a reputable, proven provider can be the difference between success and failure on your scanning project.  


Webinar on Sub-contracting laser scanning services 

Project Examples

  • Using state of the art reality capture technology, PMC can digitize your facility.

  • 3D laser scanning captures existing as-built conditions of any structure.

  • Terrestrial scanning- any size from a single tree to some of the world's largest buildings.

  • With drone capture and photogrammetry, we can capture large or otherwise inaccessible areas.

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North Carolina Disclaimer:  PMC will not offer any of its engineering and land surveying services in North Carolina unless it provides such services directly or through subcontractors with special certifications required by the NC State.