Option for ArcGIS Pro to Convert Elevation Raster to open mesh format

06-07-2021 07:14 AM
Status: Open
Labels (1)
Occasional Contributor III

Just like the title says.  I'd like to be able to export an elevation raster to any common mesh format (e.g., OBJ, STL, PLY).


I know this is super easy because I've already built open-source scripts that do it, using nothing but the dependencies that already ship with ArcGIS Pro's default conda instance.  I just think it would be nice to have the functionality included in 3D Analyst.

The problem:

Currently I manage a team that builds a high volume of precise, location-aware architectural models.  We construct the models themselves using an industry standard 3D pipeline but seat the finished product on 3D terrain.  We are not interested in CityEngine.  Our workflow to get this terrain into external, professional 3D tools is:


Terrain to TIN... TIN to Multipatch... Multipatch to Collada... Collada to (SketchUp, Maya, Blender, Meshlab, etc).  This is a bad workflow.  Why, one could be forgiven for asking, do we have to go from a TIN to a Multipatch?  That is because it's not *really* a TIN, it's an "Esri TIN" which is recognized by no mesh software at all, it is only for ArcGIS Desktop/Pro.  So we have to incur the extra step of going to *another* dead-end format (Multipatch) to get it into a broadly compatible format (Collada).


So really my idea is an either/or:  Either,

1. Raster to TIN will generate a compatible, standard TIN file; or,

2. A toolkit like Raster to Mesh gets introduced that allows the user to go straight from a surface raster to a *fully compatible, open* mesh format.


Again, I have scripted this up already; it's kind of funny but we're using ArcGIS Pro as a framework to call processes that allow us to avoid using Esri's dead-end proprietary formats.  It does work but puts us in technical debt.  Please add this functionality to ArcGIS Pro, even if it's stashed behind an extension paywall.  Thanks!

Tags (4)

Hello Open

I manage the Data Interoperability extension which can output OBJ and STL out of the box.  We don't have a PLY writer but that looks like reasonably simple to tackle with Python.  Data Interop is an extension product.  If you can share a terrain raster we can see if it meets your needs.  Work with your Esri account representative or message me directly.


@BruceHarold thanks, I had no idea data interop would do that.  I think we carry a few of those licenses; I'll check and see.  PLY is definitely not a requirement or even optimal, I have just used it in the past because it can be easily constructed as ascii format.


@EricEagle  Data Interoperability is a closely guarded secret!  Let me know if you need help.