When Model Builder is used to initially set up an Autodesk Infraworks project, Bing Maps provides the imagery. However, the resolution of the imagery is usually very fuzzy. If imagery of a higher resolution is needed, the Bing imagery can easily be swapped out with something better.
But wait…why even bother to use Model Builder at all?
Model is a quick way of setting up your site. It applies default imagery, topographic surfaces, existing roadway layouts, and even building locations; all of which are fairly up-to-date. Roadways and surfaces can be exported to AutoCAD Civil 3D and used to reach a final site design. A major functionality of Model Builder is that it locates the site relative to known coordinates in the world. This means that other data, as long as it is geographically located, can be imported, translated, and rotated automatically to align with the Model Builder site. So, although you may not want to use all the resources that Model Builder provides, it is a great jump start into your project.
There are many resources/websites where better imagery can be obtained.
Free imagery exists. You may find imagery posted to your local municipality’s website. You can also download free imagery directly from USGS, which is much better than Bing imagery. But it isn’t the very best. But if free is what meets your current needs, USGS is a great resource.
If you want super crisp imagery and are willing to pay, there are many resources that can be utilized to generate high-definition site imagery. Some of the best resources that provide quality data will cost money and come in the form of an annual contract, cloud credits, or per download pricing. Such a subscription may benefit your company’s business model if used on an ongoing basis.
My choice for a high-resolution imagery resource is ArcGIS ArcMap (ESRI). Yes, you do need a subscription but if you have it, you might as well take advantage of it. With ArcMap, you can export the image to whatever resolution is needed.
Now back to Infraworks.
Here is a bird’s eye view of my site with the Bing imagery loaded.
I have found high-resolution imagery which will replace the Bing imagery. I downloaded these files to my Infraworks model folder. The download included a world file. A world file is a text file which provides the program with the insertion base point coordinates and rotation parameters that help the program to place the file in its proper location. The provision of a world file is a very important prerequisite for deciding what resources to use for imagery.
To turn off the default imagery, open the Surface Layers dialog from the ribbon on the Manage tab > Display panel.
In the Surface Layers dialog, under Ground Imagery & Coverages, turn off the Imagery layer by clicking the light bulb off. Click OK to continue.
Note that if the imagery being imported does not cover the entire site, it can be overlaid on top of the original Bing image. Just make sure the new imagery is dragged to the top of the list in Surface Layers.
To attach the new imagery, open the Data Source panel from the ribbon on the Manage tab > Content panel.
In the Data Sources panel, click the small triangle to the right of the Add File Data Source button; then from the pop-out menu, click Raster.
Browse to the file location, select the file, and click Open.
The file is attached, but it requires some configuration. In the Data Sources panel, right-click on the imagery and click Configure.
In this instance, an XML file defining the coordinate system was not provided so the coordinate system must be set manually.
Click the exclamation glyph next to Coordinate System to browse for the coordinate system. Double-click on the coordinate system to select.
Click Close & Refresh.
The results are displayed below.
Using high-resolution imagery in site renderings will set your presentations apart from the amateurs. Determining where your final imagery will come from is one of the first decisions to make while defining your visualization workflow. Then you will be on your way to consistently creating impressive 3D models.
– Cyndy Davenport