Over the past few years we have been facing a drought here in California and for those of us fortunate enough to live in Lake Tahoe this was very evident. Just go to any beach and you will find your self being able to walk on dry dirt/sand for several hundred feet out before even hitting water. I live in Tahoe City and have been tracking this for the last few years by taking aerial photos of the Tahoe City Dam, Commons Beach and the dock near Commons Beach pictured below.
Commons Beach and Tahoe City Dam with no water!
Well the draught here in California is over and the water is flowing full blast out of the Tahoe Dam, in fact its pushing out as of this writing 1180 cubic feet per second (source). However now we are facing the potential to pass the legal limit height for the lake which is 6,229.1 feet and we are currently around 6,227.52. I would assume this could lead to flooding in lower areas around the lake and various parts on the Truckee River.
Since I usually fly my drones around this area to practice I have captured over time the changes we have experience from 2015 to 2017. This footage was just throw away shots but I managed to dig out some clips from the past few years and put together this video below.
As you guys may or may not know, I have been messing around with both aerial 360 panos and ground panos. This one is a test using the DJI Osmo along with a tripod and some great open source software Drone Pan.
This is a full 360 pano which I took on the east side of Lake Tahoe and I figured it would be a great way to showcase a first attempt at doing this.
Here is the current basic process, I will do a more in depth review of my process, which im still tweaking.
Connect Osmo to DJI App
Set some manual settings for your location, pan around a bit to find hot spots and reduce the iso/shutter/etc to your liking.
Open up the Drone Pan app (free from the app stores)
Click create pano start button and let it go.
Note it will not capture a lot of the ground where its standing so you might have to take extra photos or fix in photoshop.
I then use lightroom to try to adjust all the 25 images to the right color, saturation etc to my liking. Choose a good photo set the settings and copy to all. This is not prefect.
Go home and then use some stitching software to create your 360 pano. PTGUI, AutoPano Pro or you can try the free Hugin software. Note for the mac it hasnt been updated in ages and results from software may vary. I find autopano pro does the best job most of the times.
When your satisifed with your pano, I use Pano2VR software (yes, yet another thing to buy or try) to build our the html 5 pages for viewing.
Rinse and repeat this to find your own way.
Here is the final result..
Please leave any feedback, suggestions or comments below and share this if you like it!
So its been a long time since I posted and I have been quite busy with my new Tech Startup Likemoji (currently in stealth mode) here in the Lake Tahoe area. We also had a great winter so I haven’t had much time to take out my drones. Currently im working on a project where I will be creating 360 panos around Lake Tahoe and displaying them in a virtual tour.
Here is a complete WIP test of Eagle Rock near Tahoe City. This is a great little hike with some amazing views once at the top. This has a few issues since I couldn’t get the proper exposure lock on the camera so when you rotate around towards the mountains you see some sort of grayish fading in. This is all just a work in progress but thought I would share my example and look for more to come.
So, I have been slowly working and promoting my Instagram account thats about the drones I fly and the footage I take. I have settled on Aerial Flight Productions as the name and working on solidifying the company and a website around it.
Anyhow here are some photos and videos from my Instagram account and if you like my feed follow me:
A while back I went out to this cool location to see if I could capture some water falls. Note in California we have a serious draught issue so I wasn’t sure if it was flowing. Webber Falls is about 20 miles give or take outside of Truckee, California. After finding this little hidden gem I had to pack up the inspire 1 using a Microraptor backpack which works great and walk down a bit to the falls.
This wasnt a professional shoot, just messing around in this area seeing what looks good. I finally got around to editing the video and did a lot of rough cuts but here you can see for your self the end results. This was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro 2015 and the end credits where done with After Effects 2015.
Youtube Link (please watch it in 4k if your computer can handle it, it defaults to 720p)
So here are some of the of the new 3d landscapes I have generated recently with my drone. I’m still working out a few bugs and how to better capture data and am in contact with the companies that make the software. One issue is water because its moving or has a nice reflections built in. So you can see with my tests of a secret beach here in Tahoe some of the water is gone or the 3d model is deformed.
Secret Beach generated with Pix4D from about 300 images.
Secret Beach generated with Photoscan with the same image set.
You can notice between the 2 software packages that in this case with the water that Pix4D did a better job and some parts are missing in the Photoscan version. I will try to do a recalculation of this data set again to make sure im getting the same results.
You can defiantly see the potential complexity of having the software try to build a 3d mesh with this type of data.
Here is another aerial shot right above the boat house that I posted on Facebook that got quite a few likes!
Anyhow check out all the models I have processed so far here and feel free to provide comments below.
Here is a 3d fly through I did with the Pix4d software
After spending a bit more time testing various software to generate 3d landscapes I wanted to write up a second post with more detail and showing off another data set I collected the other day while hiking around Donner Lake area near Lake Tahoe.
Here is a shot of both of my birds before doing a shoot at Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.
Setting up the Phantoms for flight
So as mentioned in my first post I had been trying out Pix4D application which has some nice features but its quite expensive. I also recently ran across recently Agisoft Photoscan which has some similar features to Pix4D and is a little less expensive if you buy the standard edition. I guess it would depend on what you want to do with each software and Ill mention the pro’s and cons later in this article but both give you a trial version which you can test out for yourself.
I love playing around with new technology and my I have a strong background in 3D modeling since I was a young kid and got a job in the video game industry. I’m also always looking for new ways to use my skills test out new ideas.
I have been playing around with the idea of using my drones to build 3d landscapes and over the time tested various software to help convert 3d aerial photos into 3d objects. Granted some of my first tests didn’t turn out as well as I thought so I kept playing around to see what I could come up with.
I’m using Pix4d to convert the Nadar type of photos (basically the camera on the drone looks directly down at the ground). I use my iPad Ground Station from DJI to fly a grid style pattern making sure I have enough overlap of images taking fro the GoPro.