Capturing our cities with multiscale 3D mesh models

Whether it’s designing a game or a smart city, capturing data at just one resolution often isn’t enough. That’s where multiscale 3D mesh modelling comes in. It allows us to seamlessly integrate data snapped from the street to the sky, covering a range of resolutions – so architects, developers, councils, and government can make better risk management and design decisions.

What is a multiscale 3D mesh model and how does it work?

A 3D mesh model is the structural build of a 3D model. It is essentially a digital twin – a virtual replica of a real object, environment, process, service or system. 3D meshes use X,Y and Z axes to define shapes. We can then use the model to test different scenarios.


Our mesh models start at high elevation from fixed-wing platforms

To produce a multiscale 3D mesh model, data is captured from multiple angles and elevations via aerial photography (from an aeroplane, helicopter, or even drone photography) and street photography (typically on foot). Through advanced photogrammetry techniques, we overlap the images in our 3D modelling software.

The resulting 3D model produces resolutions ranging from a few centimetres per pixel, to a few millimetres per pixel, stitched into a single, precise 3D city mesh for flawless user interaction.


The next stage uses helicopters to photograph at higher details

What are some common applications?

Multiscale 3D mesh modelling offers a wide range of applications – from urban planning and design to event planning and even gaming.

Multiscale models are versatile because their capture resolution lets them work at almost any scale. Users can see great detail from elevation and then zoom down to see precise information from ground level, as a person really would in the real world.

It can also be used to support stakeholder engagement and community consultation (as we saw with Queensland’s largest infrastructure project, Cross River Rail) and provide a historical record of sites before redevelopment.


The last level is street-level enhancement where photos are taken at ground level for the most detail

Multiscale 3D mesh models in action

As with all imagery, to fully appreciate all that multiscale 3D mesh modelling has to offer, it’s best to see it in action.

For this, we can look at three recent projects:

Sunshine Coast Council, Brisbane

In collaboration with the Sunshine Coast Council and the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (Queensland), Aerometrex recently produced a street-level capture of the vibrant Mooloolaba Esplanade.

Part of a larger 3D mesh model created from the sky to the ground, it encompassed a 750 square kilometre model at 7.5cm resolution, a 17 square kilometre model captured at 2cm, and a 2.5 kilometre street-level model .

Our virtual tour showcases the precision and quality of large-scale photogrammetric modelling.

City of Ipswich, Queensland

The City of Ipswich is aspiring to become Australia’s most liveable and prosperous smart city, making the most of new technologies and data to help residents thrive.

Aerometrex provided a dataset that includes multiscale 3D mesh in various 3D formats. This includes a 6cm texture resolution 3D model wide area, a 2cm texture resolution over the CBD and selected areas, and a sub-centimetre texture resolution street level 3D model – as well as classified 3D point clouds and other spatial outputs . You can see the Ipswich 3D mesh model in action.

City of Denver, Colorado

Our Denver model has become one of our most widely used because of its high quality.

It's built from 5cm and 2cm captures with areas of street-level enhanced photography around some of the iconic buildings. Esri uses the model to showcase 3D smart city management with their platform, and the data is available as sample data from the Unreal Engine website and then Create a Cesium Ion account to use the model in Unreal Engine.

Denver 3D: Introducing the next generation in 3D Modeling in USA

With large-scale 3D mesh models, it is possible to build design visualisations and cinematic experiences, opening up a world of possibilities for video games, virtual & augmented reality and more.

City of Unley, South Australia

We built a Classified 3D reality mesh model for the City of Unley, who wanted to invest in smart city planning assets for the future.

The model is based on 2cm resolution aerial photography. We added attribute data to the model so objects in the model can show information when clicked. Buildings are interactive and will show data when selected. Other infrastructure can be queried too, with trees and city-owned features also able to show data.

City of Pau, France

One of the most groundbreaking applications of multiscale 3D mesh modelling was the recent City of Pau project. Over 100,000 2D images of the progressive, picturesque Pyrenees city taken from three perspectives (helicopter, drone, and on foot) were geometrically reconstructed to deliver a model with resolutions ranging from 2cm up to 3mm.

These were then collated into a single 3D city mesh, offering an unparalleled immersive experience for users – with photo-realistic captures of landmarks like the castle, as well as cars, glass and facades.

Uploaded into an interactive 3D platform alongside other data, the model has been used to inform urban planning, transportation and traffic, tourism, risk management, urban logistics and even heritage documentation (by monitoring architectural deterioration).


Our 3D models are ready for advanced visualisation platforms like Twinmotion.

The future of multiscale 3D mesh modelling

When working with multiscale 3D mesh models, the opportunities are endless. From simulating floods, to offering virtual walking tours, locating city damage, and planning public transportation routes, it pays to get a better perspective. And that’s precisely what multiscale 3D models offer.

If you’d like to discuss multiscale 3D mesh modelling for your next project or request a 3D sample dataset, get in touch with us today.


Contact us to talk about multiscale 3D mesh models