Models and Flight Paths


As the 3d surfaces typically represent landscapes, Maptitude can also add building models. These models are typically created in another package such as Sketchup or AutoDesk 3D Studio. Maptitude supports models in WRL, 3DS, IV, and SKP formats; and also comes with a range of ‘pre-built’ buildings.

In order to use these models, you first need to add a model layer to your 3d model. Do this by displaying the Create 3DView dialog box, and selecting Model in the Layer Type radio button. This will prompt for a name for the new model layer. Once the model layer has been created, the remaining buttons on the 3d Toolbox will be enabled:

The 3d Toolbox with the model buttons enabled

The bottom six buttons allow models to be added and manipulated. Press the Choose Model button (green cube with wrench/spanner). This will then display the 3D Model Browser dialog box:

The 3d Model Browser dialog box

Choose the model that you would like to use. Here, we have selected the VRML (wrl) model of a church. This type of church is not architecturally correct for our Snowdonia (North Wales) data, but it will serve as an example. Press OK to use the selected model. Next press the Add Model button (green cube with a ‘+’ sign). This will then let you place the model on your 3d surface. The other buttons can be used to move, scale, and rotate the model. Here is the building placed in the Dolwydellan area of the Snowdonia sample:

A church placed on the Snowdonia landscape surface. Click for larger view.

If you have external building data (position, orientation, scale), then Maptitude’s 3d model layer can be externally populated. This makes it a lot easier to create a village or town, without having to manually place each building.


Building Footprints

Full building information is rarely available. Maptitude can still draw some buildings based on their footprints. To do this you will need a building footprint layer. This is an area layer with each building’s position and shape. You should add a data field to store the building’s elevation. Many of Maptitude’s country packs include building footprint layers. You could use these, but we recommend you make a copy first before adding the elevation field. Also, we recommend you work with a selection set. A typical building footprint layer will contain millions of definitions when only a few hundred are typically needed for a landscape.

The building footprint’s elevation layer is populated by setting the building footprint as the current working layer, and selecting Update Model Elevation on the Tools->Surface Analysis sub-menu. This then lets you select the layer and/or selection set, the elevation field, and the corresponding DEM. Maptitude will then use the DEM to set the elevations for the buildings.

Add the building footprints to the surface by selecting Footprint in the Layer Type radio button on the Add a 3D Layer dialog box.

These are all CPU-intensive operations, so we recommend you use a selection set to reduce the number of building footprints processed, and to use the smallest DEM that is practical.


Flight Paths

It can be time consuming to use Maptitude’s 3d controls to move around a surface. This can be improved by creating a Flight Path defined by a set of waypoint views. These can then be saved for future use, e.g. as a demonstration.

Flight paths are controlled using the Flight Path Toolbox. After creating a surface, display the toolbox by selecting Flight Path Toolbox on the Tools->Surface Analysis sub-menu. The toolbox will look like this:

The Flight Path Toolbox set with two waypoints.

Press the top ‘+’ button to create a new flight path (called Path 1 in this example). To add a waypoint, simply navigate the surface window to the new waypoint location and orientation, and press the New Waypoint button (top waypoints button with a marker and ‘+’). The other buttons allow waypoints to be replaced and deleted. Their order can also be changed using the up and down arrows. The magnifying glass button allows you to examine a waypoint view. All of the cells in the waypoint table can be edited. This allows the flight times, waypoint pauses, and waypoint names to be changed.

After completing the path, press the Play button (green triangle) to view the flight path. Use the Configure Flight Path Data File button (tools button, top right) to save the flight path to a file for future use.

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