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Preserving colonial era church ruins with drone mapping

Digitally preserving American colonial era-structures using drones, go-pros and Pix4Dmapper.

In order to help save these National Historic Landmarks, the Sheldon Church Ruins and Brick House Ruins, photography company Abovit Aerialography used Pix4Dmapper to digitally preserve the American colonial era-structures and assist in the design of potential support structures.

OrganizationAbovit Aerialography
CountryThe United States
IndustryCultural Heritage
Project DateMarch 2015
Project MembersThe Preservation Society of Charleston, The Historic Charleston Foundation
Number of Images847
GSD6 cm

Preserving an architectural treasure

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Recognizing the potential loss of this architectural treasure, the Preservation Society of Charleston listed the Brick House ruins as one of the “seven-to-save” sites in 2013, committing to help support efforts to save the building.

The Brick House Ruins from Abovit Aerialography on Vimeo.

Capturing the images

Both data sets were composed of nadir, oblique, and terrestrial images:

  • Nadir images were acquired with a DJI Phantom from two different flights using Pix4Dcapture (a mobile flight planning and execution application from Pix4D).
  • Oblique images were taken by manually controlling the drone, ensuring at least 60% of image overlap.
  • Terrestrial images were shot from a GoPro camera, held by hand or mounted on a tripod, giving close-up details for the 3D model texture.
driver flying a DJI Phantom drone and capturing images
getting terrestrial images with a gopro, mounted on a tripod

A 3D model of the past

Images from various shooting angles – nadir, oblique, and terrestrial, were processed together in Pix4Dmapper. With some clean-up of sky points, a clear 3D model was generated.

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From the reconstructed point cloud, the 3D models were then completed for the Preservation Society of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation.

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New opportunities in an historic city

“I am excited about the opportunities that Pix4D is providing me in such an historic city,” says Michael Damrich of Abovit Aerialography in Charleston, South Carolina. “I will be lecturing to both foundations, the Preservation Society of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation, in December on the methods I used and will be explaining photogrammetry and how Pix4D made the models possible.”

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