What is PlaceMaker and how does it work?
PlaceMaker is a plugin for SketchUp that allows you to import High resolution Aerials, 3D buildings, Parametric 3D roads and walks and even bodies of water and trees. It will save you hours, if not days, of work and create instant cities from across the world.
Is the coverage global? South America? Asia? Middle East? Europe? (not just USA!!!)
YES. PlaceMaker imports in data from OpenStreetMap (what many GPS devices use) and DigitalGlobe. The data from these sources is TRULY global. It includes high rez aerials and roads for even the most remote places or locations in development. There are 3D buildings for many, if not most, large to medium size cities around the world and even for many smaller cities and towns. Check out the TRIAL version to preview the OpenStreetMap data set for your location of interest.
What information do you get?
For almost all locations you will get High-resolution aerial imagery and roads. Also, these can be merged with directly onto terrain. For many other locations you will get 3D buildings, walking paths and bodies of water (ocean, lakes, streams). On occasion the OSM data may also include some vegetation.
Can I edit the imported roads and buildings?
YES. In the fully licensed version, all objects that PlaceMaker imports can be edited. During import, PlaceMaker performs a huge amount of clean-up and optimization on the data so that it can be easily edited with the standard SketchUp tools. We even fix skewed corners of buildings so that they are 90 degrees and can be modified using the Push / Pull tool!
In the TRIAL version only, the objects that PlaceMaker imports can not be edited.
But where are all the Buildings?
We know everyone wants as many 3D buildings as possible. Thankfully, OpenStreetMap contributors, which provides the data PlaceMaker uses, are constantly adding more building data. We also have plans for the next version of PlaceMaker to help fill in the blank building information so stay with us, we want to fill the 3D world with buildings too!
Is there a Trial and Demo version? How does it work?
YES, we have an extended trial version that allows you to preview the 3D OpenStreetMap data. You can import and see the data for yourself but you cannot modify or save the imported data. The data is displayed as a temporary preview that will disappear once a new SketchUp tool is selected. While you can’t save it, you get to have a sneak peak of what PlaceMaker has to offer. The trial version does not allow for imagery import, or draping / merging of features onto terrain. Check out the Trial here.
Can I use my own terrain and imagery data?
YES, if you are able to import and properly geo-locate your imagery and terrain data with SketchUp, you can also use it with PlaceMaker. At this time, PlaceMaker does not include any tools for importing user-imagery and user-terrain.
What are the software and hardware requirements?
Currently, PlaceMaker requires SketchUp Make 2016 or greater or SketchUp Pro 2016 or greater. It works on both PC and Mac operating systems. An internet connection is required. If you can run SketchUp, you should have no problem running PlaceMaker. However, the import process will be faster with a fast internet connection and more powerful CPU. It is also recommended (but not required) to have at least 8 GB of RAM.
How does Licensing work? Is there a yearly subscription?
PlaceMaker is a ONE time purchase and does not have a yearly subscription (we don’t like that either!) There will be a minimal upgrade cost when a new major version is released. PlaceMaker is a dedicated license for the stand alone computer its installed on. Installation on both a personal computer and laptop are permitted under one license. For more information, please see the EULA.
What is the Revit Export Feature? Will it export to other programs?
While we have plans for a standalone REVIT version next. However, we did include a nifty REVIT export function. The export function optimizes the model and data for Revit. Check out the tutorials on that topic.
AND YES – You can also export the 3D data to many other programs including AutoCAD, Rhino, 3DS max and Bentley products. We have tutorials for those as well here.
What do you mean by BaseMap?
Does PlaceMaker work with Terrain?
Yes!! Using the SketchUp Location tool, toggle the imported aerial terrain information on. Make sure that you have the ‘merge with surface’ and ‘drop onto surface’ options enabled in the PlaceMaker import options. Then select the terrain the same way you would using other PlaceMaker features. PlaceMaker will place buildings on Terrain at the correct elevation and model the roads and paths and building footprints directly onto the terrain creating a unique digital elevation model.
Note: Importing onto terrain is not available in the trial version.
High Resolution Aerials
Where do you get the High Rez Aerials?
PlaceMaker imports high resolution from DigitalGlobe, a company that collects aerials, remote sensing and geospatial data. The PlaceMaker team pays a monthly fee for users to access the DigitalGlobe aerials.
Are the Aerials Free for PlaceMaker users?
Yes. Once you purchase a license for PlaceMaker, you are able to download a set amount of aerial tiles (250) per month. The PlaceMaker team pays a monthly fee for access to the aerials.
Why is there an imagery quota and how does it work?
In order to provide high-quality low-cost licensed imagery that can be legally downloaded and used for 3D modelling references, we unfortunately need to put a restriction on the number of imagery downloads per user. Each licensed user will have a monthly quota (limit) of imagery map tile downloads. The monthly limit is currently 250 tiles (subject to change). This limit is per license.
Therefore, if you have 2 licenses, your monthly quota would be 500 tiles per month. If you have downloaded the same tile previously and it is still stored in the PlaceMaker cache, the tile will be loaded from the cache and will not count against your quota. Keep in mind that downloading ‘preview’ tiles from the PlaceMaker dialog will also count against your quota.
How large are the imagery tiles?
All tiles are imported at 1280×1280 pixels. The physical size that the tiles cover depends on the selected zoom level in PlaceMaker as well as the latitude of your model. At the maximum resolution zoom level, you may need somewhere between 36 and 100 tiles to cover an areas of 1.5 square miles. However, you can dramatically reduce your usage needs by lowering the zoom level. The quality of the imagery is still very good at the ‘high’ zoom level and the number of tiles can be reduced by a factor of 4! For example, if you need 100 tiles at the maximum zoom level to cover an area, you would only need 25 tiles if you lowered the zoom level to ‘high’. Once you click on the Imagery import button, PlaceMaker will show you (before you download) how many tiles you need to cover the selected area so that you can manage your quota efficiently.
How do I get the High Rez aerials on to Terrain?
We will have a specific tutorial on that topic. You need to ensure that the Paint Selected Surface checkbox is enabled.
Why are there no buildings in the area?
Not all the buildings are available in 3D. These are dependent on the data available from OpenStreetMap, the database PlaceMaker imports information from. OpenStreetMap is constantly being updated with new massing architecture and information. Check out our OpenStreetMap link to see if the building data you want is available. In general, roads and aerials are almost always available for any given location.
Help, SketchUp hangs every time I try to make a place!
Be patient. The process to import the data and modify it for SketchUp can take a few minutes. Unless you see a Bug Splat Screen and crash, please allow SketchUp to work through and process the data. If you are selecting multiple location imports at the same time, SketchUp can hang and you will need to restart. Best to do it one aerial at a time.
Why are the buildings not the correct height?
The height settings (including level height) for buildings and trees are only considered by PlaceMaker where the OSM data does not provide specific height information. If you want to ‘fix’ the height of a specific building or tree, the best way would be to use the online OSM editor to add the correct ‘height’ tag to the object.