Quick Lidar processing / by Xuan Prada

Processing Lidar scans to be used in production is a very tedious task, specially when working on big environments, generating huge point clouds with millions of polygons. That’s so complicated to move in any 3D viewport.

To clean those point clouds the best tools usually are the ones that the 3D scans manufacturers ship with their products. But sometimes they are quite complex and not artist friendly.
And also most of the time we receive the Lidar from on-set workers and we don’t have access to those tools, so we have to use mainstream software to deal with this task.

If we are talking about very complex Lidar, we will have to spend a good time to clean it. But if we are dealing with simple Lidar of small environments, props or characters, we can clean them quite easily using MeshLab or Zbrush.

  • Import your Lidar in MeshLab. It can read the most common Lidar formats.
  • This Lidar has around 30 M polys. If we zoom in we can see how good it looks.
  • The best option to reduce the amount of geo is called Remeshing, Simplification and Reconstruction -> Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation.
  • We can play with Percentage reduction. If we use 0.5 the mesh will be reduced to 50% and so on.
  • After a few minutes (so fast) we will get the new geo reduced down to 3 M polys.
  • Then you can export it as .obj and open it in any other program, in this case Nuke.

Another alternative to MeshLab is Zbrush. But the problem with Zbrush is the memory limitation. Lidar are a very big point clouds and Zbrush doesn’t manage the memory very well.
But you can combine MeshLab and Zbrush to process your Lidar’s.

  • Try to import your Lidar en Zbrush. If you get an error try this.
  • Open Zbrush as Administrator, and then increase the amount of memory used by the software.
  • I’m importing now a Lidar processed in MeshLab with 3 M polys.
  • Go to Zplugin -> Decimation Master to reduce the number of polys. Just introduce a value in the percentage field. This will generate a new model based on that value against the original mesh.
  • Then click on Pre-Process Current. This will take a while according with how complex is the Lidar and your computer capabilities.
  • Once finished click on Decimate Current.
  • Once finished you will get a new mesh with 10% polys of the original mesh.