High Resolution Aerials from DigitalGlobe
What is the quality of the high resolution aerial imagery? Is it better than the Add Location tool inside SketchUp?
PlaceMaker imports the highest resolution and most recent imagery available from DigitalGlobe. PlaceMaker’s imagery has a maximum resolution of 30cm per pixel while SketchUp’s Add Location tool (currently) has a maximum resolution of 50cm per pixel resolution which can only be achieved by using maximum zoom on a very small area prior to grabbing the location. SketchUp’s Add Location tool imagery has the advantage of being color corrected and post-post processed to remove haze. Unfortunately, this post-processing can negatively affect the sharpness of the imagery. Most importantly, PlaceMaker is able to seamlessly import the highest resolution tiles available from DigitalGlobe over your entire area of interest while SketchUp’s Add Location tool can only import a very small area at max zoom level.
How can I preview the high resolution imagery before I purchase?
Using the free trial version of PlaceMaker (version 1.1 or newer), click on the ‘Select a Place’ button to open the PlaceMaker geo-location tool. The imagery you see at the maximum zoom level is the same imagery and quality that you can import using the PlaceMaker imagery import tool. Make sure you are using PlaceMaker 1.1 or newer. If you are using PlaceMaker 1.0, you will still see SketchUp’s imagery when you click the ‘Select a Place’ button.
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. If your PlaceMaker subscription license includes imagery tile credits, you are then able to download a set amount of tiles during the term of your subscription. The PlaceMaker team pays licensing fees to DigitalGlobe 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 quota (limit) of imagery map tile downloads. The annual limit for commercial licenses is currently 3000 tiles (subject to change). This limit is per license. Therefore, if you have 2 (commercial) licenses, your quota would be 6000 tiles per year. 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.
What happens when I run out of tile credits?
When you have no more tile credits, you won’t be able to download any more high resolution imagery. However, you can purchase additional tile credits at any time during your subscription (student licenses cannot purchase tile credits). The additional credits will be available until your current subscription expires.
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.