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Case study: how to plan successful photogrammetry workshops

The Cantau college uses PIX4Dmapper to train professional surveyors. They ran a workshop in Cameroon to share knowledge with other students.

Photogrammetry is a widely recognized game-changing tool in the field of 3D scanning. Along with the use of drones and aerial mapping, it saves time, money, and work for people in the field, and makes results easy to share. The return on investment of drone mapping is proven and popular. Working with drone photogrammetry software is easier when users are familiar with the features of the technology.

Pix4D offers various types of training and webinars worldwide on how to master Pix4D products and apply them in desired workflows. Other organizations also plan their own training courses in surveying or photogrammetry with Pix4D photogrammetry software. One example is the Lycée Cantau in Anglet, France. The Lycée Cantau is a technical vocational school that trains students to become professional surveyors. It is a specialized school that teaches courses in the use of static LiDAR, terrestrial and aerial photogrammetry, and the creation of BIM models. These students, the majority of whom are drone pilots, participated in a project in Cameroon. They went to schools in Ombessa and Yaoundé to train students with 2 and 5 years of higher education as well as local operators in the use of drones and PIX4Dmapper.

Group football team photo
The students worked with local schools to learn about drones

The project partnered with French professional surveying firms, six of whom joined the team that traveled to Cameroon. Together they raised €45,000 to fund the project. The trip itself took place in March 2020, as a 10-day trip funded 100% by private sponsors. A second follow-up trip is planned for March 2022, during which other Cameroonian professionals can be trained.

Project details

UserLycée Cantau
LocationOmbessa and Youndé, Cameroon
HardwarePhantom 4 Pro V2
SoftwarePIX4Dcapture, PIX4Dmapper
Total images captured2,000
GSD1.5 cm (0.5 inches)

Working in the field

As soon as they arrived, the Lycée Cantau team worked with the Cameroonians and their colleagues in the workshop. The sessions were led by the surveyors from the French companies, with the help of the students. This broadened the training potential, building on the knowledge that the French students already had. This exchange became an example of international collaboration and integration as techniques were shared across cultures and workplaces.

This project in Cameroon aims to initiate a new generation of surveyor students familiar with 3D scanning. They will be able to use a drone for data collection, analyze their results and apply the information gathered to 3D mapping projects. PIX4Dmapper was the ideal tool for this project because of the wide range of features it offers, allowing them to work in both 2D and 3D, as well as to measure, annotate and inspect the places they surveyed. The organizers also brought their own equipment, which allowed them to work with familiar tools.

Team circled around a DJI Phantom 4
Discussing the best practices for using a rotary drone

Workshop participants learned to work with PIX4Dmapper outputs: point cloud, orthomosaic, textured mesh, and animated videos of the sites. This is essential to ensure that participants are familiar with the most modern tools of photogrammetric surveying and do not learn outdated techniques or practices.

In addition, the workshop also made use of thermal scans and conducted moisture surveys. These tools are particularly useful in Cameroon, a sub-Saharan country with arid climates. The workshop therefore not only shared generic photogrammetric knowledge but also geographically relevant information that will be useful to future surveyors attending the workshop.

A point cloud of rural buildings
The outputs of PIX4Dmapper include sharp point clouds

Shaping the future of surveying

The integration of modern technologies in surveying and mapping is already underway, but the tools must be used worldwide or there may be a disconnect between international projects. For Lycée Cantau, the students from the school participating in the trip had the privilege of sharing and passing on to their peers the topics and information they learned at school - an important way to check if you are really retaining the information you are being taught! Similarly, the Cameroonian schools that took part in the workshops had access to professional software and equipment as well as specific training, which enabled them to take full advantage of the surveyors' knowledge.

Team circled around the controller for a DJI Phantom 4 Pro
Showing how to use the hardware is as important as understanding the software

3D for exchange and sharing

The sharing of 3D technology is widespread around the world. Pix4D has organized workshops in several countries to encourage and equip more people to use drone surveying and photogrammetry, while users of Pix4D products have also set up their own similar events, as in a recent example in Tanzania with Flying Labs.

Point cloud from Pix4Dmapper
PIX4Dmapper's outputs are useful in analyzing terrain

Key elements of the success of this Cameroon workshop included balancing finding the right audience to deliver a course to, inviting industry professionals to ensure accurate educational content, and bringing the project to bear where it would make a difference - rather than holding the workshop in France where the software and techniques may already be in use, this course was held with an entirely new population who may not have had access to drone mapping before.

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