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 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 or Demo version? How does it work?
YES, we have an extended preview (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.
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.
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?
How does Licensing work? Does it expire?
PlaceMaker is sold as a dedicated annual subscription license for the stand alone computer it is installed on. Subscription licenses will expire one year from the date of purchase. Installation and activation on both a personal computer and laptop are permitted under one license. By purchasing multiple license quantities, additional users can install and activate a PlaceMaker license under the same account. For more information, please see the EULA.
Is there a discount when I renew my subscription?
Yes, we will be offering discounts on subscription renewals. Annual renewal pricing is currently set to $99 per license (subject to change)
Can I move my license to another computer?
Yes! This is a new feature in PlaceMaker 1.1.0. Licenses can be transferred from one computer to another by removing and re-activating your license with the License Manager.
Is volume licensing and discounts available?
Yes! Please contact us to request a quote or coupon code for a volume licensing discount.
Are student and educator licenses available?
Yes! See here for details.
High Resolution Aerials
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.
Can the PlaceMaker Add Location (Select Place) Tool import terrain data?
No, if you need to import terrain, you can use the Add Location Tool in SketchUp 2017 Pro. After May 22, 2017, SketchUp is removing the terrain import feature in older versions of SketchUp and in SketchUp Make.
Does PlaceMaker work with Terrain?
Yes!! Using the SketchUp Add 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.
How do I get the high resolution imagery onto Terrain?
You need to use the imagery import feature and ensure that the Paint Selected Surface checkbox is enabled.
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.
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.