9 Tips for Opening Massive Point Clouds

Whether you work with massive point clouds regularly or just occasionally, here are tips on how to handle them efficiently.

NUBIGON is the most powerful reality capture engine. Even though it can render unlimited volumes of point cloud data in real-time, you have to be mindful of a couple of things. When opening a point cloud for the first time, NUBIGON converts your data into a high-performance file type called octree. This conversion happens only once and gives you a unique ability to handle massive point clouds with ease.

Here are some important tips to help you make the most of NUBIGON:

1. Keep Your Project on an SSD

SSDs are much faster than mechanical hard disks and they will definitely reduce the time your computer spends to open point clouds.

My recommendation is to go at least with a 500 GB SSD as massive point clouds these days take up a lot of space. The Windows folder, for example, clocks in at 30 Gigabytes, add your personal data, CAD, 3D, and other applications and you will quickly approach 100 GB. So, even with a 500 GB SSD, there will be only 400 GB left for your massive point cloud.

2. Keep Your Source Files Elsewhere

If there is not much space on your primary drive, keeping your data in a different drive will save space.

Since octrees are faster, I always keep my source files (LAS, E57, etc.) on an external drive. On my SSD, I leave the most space for octrees.

3. Move Your Temp Folder

While opening point clouds for the first time, temporary files can get as big as your point clouds. Assigning a folder on a different physical hard disk as your Temp folder will save space for your octrees. 

I prefer using my secondary drive for temporary files. If your computer does not have a secondary drive, you can also use an external disk.

4. Turn Normals Off

NUBIGON computes normals before opening point clouds by default. Although our computation algorithm is faster than industry standards, this action still takes time, especially if you are opening point clouds with more than one billion points.

Normals are not needed for modeling purposes. So if the work you are going to do is purely modeling, simply uncheck the Compute normals box in the Octree Options Window > Advanced.

5. Clean the Data A Little

Some point clouds have outliers so far away from our point of interest that we do not see them. A couple of outliers sound unimportant; however, when it comes to generating octrees for performance, those outliers create big problems. Some of those outliers can lengthen an open action by hours.

In the scan registration software, I always use clipping boxes to get rid of the outliers.

6. Use Ordered Point Clouds

Some laser scanners create unordered or unorganized point clouds; however, most of the registration software gives users the ability to export the data ordered (or organized). Opening an ordered point cloud is faster than opening an unordered one.

The time you devote during the export operation will be more than compensated by the gains from opening an ordered point cloud in NUBIGON.

7. Watch Out for Low Power Mode

Most laptops come with a “Balanced” or “Power saver” power setting as default. With most laptops, you can adjust your power settings to maximize performance.

Go to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Power Options and select “Create a Power Plan.” If your computer lets you adjust the speed of your components, you’ll see three options: “Balanced,” “Power saver,” and “High performance.” Select “High performance” and create a plan name. You’ll then see a screen where you can select your power plan. Select your new plan. Creating a power plan that’s based on “High performance” will maximize the performance of your computer automatically.

8. Stay Away From Overheating

Opening massive point clouds for the first time may take a couple of hours in NUBIGON (recurring opens are instantaneous). This means if you are using a laptop, the fans of your computer may run wildly for the duration of the operation.

A sure sign that your computer is overheating is when your fan is always running at maximum speed. An overheating CPU cuts back its clock speed to escape heat pressure. This results in reduced performance. 

Other than dusting the fans and investing in a good cooler, the next best thing you can do is use a desktop for opening a massive point cloud for the first time. Then transfer your project folder to your laptop and continue working there. Personally, I always use the desktop at the office for the conversion to octrees

9. Do not run any other software

Your computer’s ability to run multiple programs at the same time hinges in part on its RAM (random access memory). If the demands of running programs are outstripping your computer’s memory and processing power, opening point clouds in NUBIGON will suffer a slowdown.

I always restart my computer before the first-time open of a massive point cloud and do not even open internet browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Extensions and add-ons of those browsers are pretty memory intensive and having multiple tabs open further adds to that.

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