How to Split or Crop Point Clouds


Some point clouds can be very large, which makes them difficult to work with and process. In these cases, the point clouds can be split up into smaller, more manageable files.


This guide covers the steps for splitting a point cloud into tiles based on a grid using Global Mapper and CloudCompare.

Global Mapper


Screenshots are from Global Mapper v19.1, but the steps should be the same for later versions of the software

Steps

1. Load your point cloud file in Global Mapper


2. Click on the Digitizer tool



3. Right-click on the model, then select Advanced Feature Creation Options > GRID



4. The cursor will change to one with a GRID icon and label. Click anywhere on the model.

5. In the Grid Setup window that appears, specify the Number of Grid Rows and Number of Grid Columns. This will determine how many tiles to split your point cloud into.


In this example, we will be using a 2 by 2 grid to create four tiles.



6. Click on Calculate Grid Cell Sizes to Fill Rectangle


7. A Grid Bounds window should pop up. Just press OK.

8. The Grid Setup window should look like this. Press OK to create the grid.

9. The full grid should be selected by default. If not, select all of the cells.

10. Right-click on the point cloud layer in the Control Center then select Layer > EXPORT




11. Select the point cloud layer and choose Lidar LAS File for the export format



12. In the Lidar LAS/LAZ Export Options, go to the Tiling tab and select Use Selected Area Feature(s) for Tiles under Tile Layout. Press OK.



13. You will be prompted to select grid cell naming and to determine the boundary. You can just go with the default (<Area Display Label>) and press Yes.



14. After that, you’ll be prompted to specify a save location for the cropped point clouds.

 
The naming convention for the output files will be <filename you specified>+<grid cell naming>.


15. That’s it! You may have to wait a while for your point clouds to finish exporting.


Have a long corridor or irregularly shaped site?

Point cloud files will not be created for grid cells that are empty.
There is no need to deselect these in step 9.


Don’t want a grid?

You can use this same workflow for cropping any shape, not just a grid. To do this,

  1. Create the shape/feature that you will use to crop the point cloud
  2. Select it
  3. Export the point cloud layer, and select “Use Selected Area Feature(s) for Tiles” in the Tiling tab again

CloudCompare

Steps

1. Open your point cloud file in CloudCompare.



2. Select the Tiling tab and check the box next to Tile input file.

3. Choose the number of tiles that you’d like to split the original point cloud.

4. Select where the tiles will be saved and click Apply.

Note: Point cloud files will not be created for empty tiles.


I still can't do it!

We wrote these articles to equip you with everything you need to get the job done on your own, but we understand that sometimes this isn't sufficient.

If you're stuck, you can connect with our support team by clicking the support button on the top right corner of your user portal.