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Viewing Point Clouds in SiteView

Viewing Point Clouds in SiteView



SiteView lets users display and share point clouds (reality capture data). SiteView can load point cloud files with up to 2 billion points.

Watch the video for a high-level overview:

Supported File Formats

These are the currently supported point cloud file formats: 

  • E57 (ASTM vendor-neutral file format for storing point clouds, images, and metadata)
  • LAS (LASer File Format from American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing) 
  • LAZ (lossless LiDAR compressed LAS File Format) 
  • PLY (Polygon File Format or the Stanford Triangle Format) 
  • PTS (Leica Single Scan File Format) 
  • RCP (Autodesk ReCap Project File Format)* 
  • RCS (Autodesk ReCap Scan File Format)* 
  • XYZ (generic ASCII/ Binary point cloud File Format)

(* = Note that RCP and RCS are only supported by Connect for Windows. The Mac version does not support these file formats.)

Capture Viewer Modes 

When a SiteView contains a published point cloud or mesh file, a message will appear in the bottom right of the capture viewer:

This indicates that there is a point cloud in the SiteView for at least one capture date.

To load the point cloud for a specific date, click the Load Reality Capture icon in the viewing mode menu in the Capture Viewer. The data will load and replace the current pano shown in the viewer.

Once it is loaded, there are two viewing modes available:

  • Walk-through mode
  • 3D mode

Please read Capture Viewer Settings to learn the basics of viewing mode options.

Walk-through Mode Navigation

The default point cloud view is Walk-through mode  . The instructions for movement are presented on screen:

Walking with Arrow Keys:

  • Left and right arrow keys - Pan inside the capture display. 
  • Up and down arrow keys - Zoom in and out. 

Walking with WASD:

  • W - Move to the pano in front of you. 
  • A - Move to the pano left of you. 
  • S - Move to the pano behind you. 
  • D - Move to the pano right of you.

Go up and down:

  • Q - Move upward
  • E - Move downward

Adjust speed:

  • Hit - (minus key) to slow down the keyboard movement speed
  • Hit = (equals key ) to speed up the keyboard movement speed


  • Click on a destination inside the Capture Viewer to "teleport" there.

3D Mode Navigation

In 3D mode  , the point cloud is displayed in 3D space overlaid on top of the Reference Plan for that Level. It is similar to Walk-through mode navigation.

Reality Capture Preferences

SiteView offers four user-defined rendering options in SiteView Settings:

  • Point Limit per Frame - Adjust data loading time.
  • Point Size - Choose from Fixed sizing and Adaptive sizing.
  • Point Color Mode - Select how points are colorized. 
  • Point Cloud Silhouette - Display shapes calculated from the point cloud.

Point Limit per Frame

To load a SiteView point cloud faster, users can adjust the maximum number of points that can be loaded each time the capture window frame needs to be rendered.  Rendering occurs whenever the user moves to a different location in the digital twin, or when the user rotates at a location.  By selecting a smaller point limit per frame, point cloud imagery is rendered faster with larger point sizes.  A larger point limit per frame will result in smaller point sizes and a more detailed point cloud render, however, loading times will be noticeably longer.

The point limit per frame currently ranges from 0.1 million to 10 million points.

NOTE: to change the point limit per frame, click and drag the slider.

Point Size

Point sizes can be rendered in two different ways:

  • Fixed - All points are rendered at the same size.
  • Adaptive - Points in a lower density region are rendered larger, while points in a higher density region are rendered smaller.

Point Color Mode

Point clouds can be displayed in four color modes.  To change the colorization, go to SiteView Settings from the top toolbar, then select the desired display option from the drop down menu next to Point Color Mode.

The following point color modes are supported:

  • RGB - Points are colored with the real world RGB (Red, Blue, Green) value of scanned surfaces.  RGB is only available if the laser scanner uses an external or integrated camera to take corresponding images at each scan location.
  • CMY - If the point colors are defined in CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow), use this option to view their color.
  • Elevation - Points are color coded by elevation, with blue indicating points closest to the floor, and red indicating points closest to the ceiling.
  • Intensity - Shown in grayscale, intensity shows the strength of the reflected laser beam when scanning to create the point cloud.  Lighter points indicate areas with a strongly reflected beam, and darker points indicate areas where the reflected beam is weaker. You can expect highly reflective surfaces such as smooth floors and metal to generate lighter points, whereas dark surfaces that absorb light generate darker points.

Point Cloud Silhouette

When an area is scanned, surfaces of objects and their resulting shapes can be extrapolated using the resulting point cloud. Point clouds in SiteView can be displayed with or without a black outline that traces the silhouettes of these calculated shapes. Enabling point color silhouette better defines the edges of shapes within the displayed point cloud, improving the visibility of objects.

Click the toggle next to Point Cloud Silhouette to turn this feature on (blue) or off (gray).

The Clipping Tool

In SiteView, users can hide or expose regions of a point cloud by using clipping panels in Clipping Tool mode

Note: You can also view the clipped region in the Plan Viewer as an orange region lined by dotted lines.

Show Clipping Tool

Click on the Show Clipping Tool  button in the Capture Viewer toolbar. The clipping panel menu offers clipping panel sliders to adjust the positions of the clipping panels along the named axis, the option to lock to and view the extremes of each clipping panel, the ability to download the point cloud region inside a volume defined by the clipping panel(s), and the option to reset all clipping panels.

Clipping Plane Sliders

Clipping panels are planes perpendicular to the X, Y, and Z axis. Each axis has two clipping panels that start at the ends of the point cloud, and users can adjust the clipping panel positions along their corresponding axis to show or hide sections of the point cloud. For example, the Z-axis has one clipping panel that starts at the very bottom of the floor and a second clipping panel that starts at the very top of the ceiling.

Lock or Unlock the Clipping Plane

Users can view cross sections of the point cloud from all six directions of the 3D space by using the lock functions.  To lock the clipping panel, click on the Lock to left view or Lock to right view buttons on the side of the clipping panel sliders. Click the button again to unlock them.

Download Point Cloud

Once you have set a volume within the 3D space using the X, Y, and/or Z clipping planes, you have the option of downloading the point cloud within this defined clipping volume. This point cloud section will be saved to your computer as a PLY or XYZ file within the Downloads folder.

Reset the Clipping Tool

To restore the default clipping plane settings along the X, Y, and Z axis, click on Reset. The entirety of the point cloud will be displayed again.

Matt is the author of this solution article.

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