3: User interface

In this section:

3.1: General
3.2: Point clouds
3.3: Align
3.3.1: Origin
3.3.2: Align
3.3.3 Reset Position
3.3.4 Axis
3.3.5 Flip
3.3.6 Rotate
3.4 Options
3.5 Slices
3.5.1 Two Point Slice
3.5.2 Slice from Plane
3.5.3 CSV (professional version only)
3.5.4 Vector
3.5.5 Outline
3.5.6 Position Slice
3.5.7 Plane from Slice
3.5.8 Align to Curve
3.5.9 Step Slice
3.5.10 Attach to Plane
3.6 Clipping
3.6.1 Clipping in slices
3.6.2 Point clouds
3.7 Shader
3.8 Clash Detection
3.9 Viewpoints
3.10 Rendering VPC files
3.11 Point cloud not displayed correctly


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3. 1 General

Point Clouds for Rhino features a very simple user interface. You’ll see a number of tabs which separate the key controls in the plug-in into logical sections.

In many sections you will see the two buttons below:

  • The “+” button adds an item to the current list.
  • The “-” button removes an item from the current list.


3.2 Point clouds

When you click the plus icon, you can choose whether to load a VPC file from your local machine or a network location – either Zappcha or a Point Cloud Server. For more information on Zappcha and Point Cloud Server, see sections 4 and 5 respectively

To add a point cloud (or point clouds) to your document, press the button on the Point Clouds tab and select whether you would like to load your VPC file(s) from your local machine or a network location. When a point cloud is added and selected in the displayed list, a number of options become available which control the appearance of that point cloud in the Rhino view windows. Note that you must first select the point cloud in order for these options to work:

  • Quality – determines the density of the rendered point cloud. The higher the quality the better the appearance, but the slower the performance.
  • Point size – increase or decrease the size of points. Useful to highlight certain points to make the clouds look more solid when visualising.
  • Render – enables you to draw using intensity, colour or ramp values.
  • Filling – fills gaps in the point cloud data by intelligently sampling the point data.
  • Ratio – controls the power of the filling setting for distance.
  • Opacity – adjusts the transparency of the selected point cloud(s).
  • Brightness – adjusts the brightness of the selected point cloud(s).
  • Contrast – adjusts the contrast of the selected point cloud(s).
  • Zoom – centres the Rhino view on the currently selected point cloud(s).
  • Restore  – this button restores any points that you’ve deleted from the selected point cloud(s), restoring the point cloud to its original converted state.
  • Clash detection – detects clashes between point clouds and meshed surfaces. See section 3.8 for more.
  • Server  – see section 5 for more information.
  • X, Y, Z – the position of the selected point cloud(s) in Rhino.
  • Scale – adjusts the displayed size of the selected point cloud(s). Can be scaled up or down.
  • Align – used to manipulate the position and rotation of the point cloud(s). See section 3.3 for more information




3.3 Align

This set of tools is used to position and rotate the selected point cloud(s) within Rhino. Let’s look at each of the different tools in more detail:


3.3.1 Origin

Selecting your newly created point will highlight it yellow

Position a Rhino “single point” on the selected point cloud. Select the newly created point, which will highlight it yellow, and click the Origin icon. The point cloud will be moved to X,Y,Z 0,0,0 centred on the selected point.

Learn more about the origin function in this video.







3.3.2 Align

Two selected polylines have turned yellow

Create two Polylines, one horizontal and one vertial (note that the horizontal line MUST be created first). These represent a new axis for the selected point cloud. Select both polylines, highlighting them yellow, and select the Align icon. The point cloud will transition to align with the new axes.

Learn more about the Align function in this video.

Note: use Axis, Flip and Rotate to correct the orientation if the point cloud doesn’t align correctly.




3.3.3 Reset Position

Resets any of the Align or Origin operations back to the original location/rotation of the point cloud(s).


3.3.4 Axis

Selects which axis (X, Y or Z) will be affected by the Flip and Rotate operations.


3.3.5 Flip

Flips the selected point cloud(s) 180° around the axis you have selected.


3.3.6 Rotate

Rotates the selected point cloud(s) 90° around the axis you have selected.


3.4 Options

The Options tab, with the settings described on the right

The options panel features settings that affect all point clouds.

  • Lighting – adds dynamic lighting to the scene. The light source is always behind your current position.
  • Rendering – removes point cloud(s) from the view displays.
  • Snap – if “Point” is enabled under the “Osnap” settings of Rhino then the cursor will automatically snap to the nearest point in the point cloud.


3.5 Slices

Slices are a way to quickly visualise a section through the point cloud(s). Slices can only be created on orthogonal views and not on the main perspective view unless using the Two Point Slice (see section 3.5.1).

The slice is visualised in the viewing windows by a solid line passing through the data. Above and below the line are dotted lines representing the width of the slice.

The slice can be manually moved by clicking and dragging the solid slice line or by using the stepping function. See section 3.5.10 for more information.

Here you can see a slice in action. In the top left you can see the top-down view of the slice; the other three views show you the position of the slice within the entire point cloud. On the left you can see the Sliced tab. Note that the colour of the slice matches the selected colour in the tab.


Learn more about slicing in this video.

Note: It is possible to have multiple slices active at any one time, so long as they are not in the same view.

Each slice has the following properties:

  • Lock – prevents the slice from being moved.
  • Colour – selects the colour the slice will appear as when the Highlight option is ticked.
  • Name – lets you give your slice a meaningful name to help you identify it.
  • Width – in units of the current document, such as metres or mm.
  • Perspective – enables whether you want the slice effect to be visible in the main perspective view.
  • Attach – attaches the construction at the slice position when turned on. When turned off, if you move the slice the construction will stay at the previous slice position.
  • Clipping – selecting this means that any clipping you do will only affect the points within your slice. See section 3.6 for more information on clipping.
  • Highlight – highlights your slice with your chosen colour.
  • Native – allow the slice to also affect native Rhino objects.

At the top of the slice window, you’ll find two additional additional buttons:


3.5.1 Two Point Slice

Creates a slice between two user points; very useful for slicing point clouds that aren’t aligned to the construction plane. Simply click the Two Point Slice button, then click two points inline where the slice is required.

Learn more about the Two Point Slice in this video.


3.5.2 Slice from Plane

Turn on CPlanes in the Arena4D tab…

Adds the selected slice from the Named CPlanes tab to the Slice tab within Point Clouds for Rhino. In order to do this you must first add a slice to the Named Cplanes tab; see section 3.5.7 for more detail. Make sure Named Cplanes is turned on by right clicking on the “Arena4D” tab and selecting “Named Cplanes”.

Learn more about slice from plane in this video.







… then select the Named CPlanes tab to see the slices you’ve saved as CPlanes

Select the Named Cplanes tab followed by the Cplane slice to be added and it will be shown in the Rhino views as three axes. Now click the slice from plane icon.

At the bottom of the slice window are seven buttons:


3.5.3 CSV (plane analysis, professional version only)

Creates a text-based CSV (comma separated values) file containing X,Y,Z, RGB, intensity, classifications, and distance data (distances are calculated from the centre of the slice outwards in both directions).

Learn more about plane analysis in this video.


3.5.4 Vector

This generates a vector drawing of your slice. To use, make sure your slice is positioned as required within the point cloud data, position the view to full screen where possible and squared to the slice, then select Vector. The resulting Rhino drawings will be centred around the middle of the sliced data. These drawing can then be exported from Rhino in any format you require.


3.5.5 Outline

Used in the same way as the Vector option above, but the resulting drawings will be an outline of the point cloud data within the slice rather than showing a line representing the points.


3.5.6 Position Slice

Click directly where to position the active slice within the point cloud.


3.5.7 Plane from Slice

Adds the currently active slice to the Named Cplanes tab. Newly created Cplane(s) can be seen under the Named Cplanes tab.



3.5.8 Align to Curve

This icon allows you to convert a traditional orthogonal slice into one that aligns with a curve. To use this feature you must have first added a curve or line to the data. Select the slice to align, then click Align To Curve. Now, clicking anywhere along the curve or line will align the view and slice to that point on the curve. Note: ensure that no Rhino object is selected, including the curve or line, before clicking Align To Curve.


3.5.9 Step Slice

The two step buttons at the bottom of the Slices tab allow you to move a step through the currently selected slice. The distance each step takes can be set in the Slices tab. The “direction” the step moves in will depend on how you have the slice oriented.


3.5.10 Attach to Plane

Aligns the view construction plane with the slice position. “Attach To Plane” means that the construction plane in the slice view will follow the movement of the slice.


3.6 Clipping


The clipping tab in the plug-in

The clipping tab is used to select areas of point data (called clips) that you wish to hide or unhide. The four main controls of the clipping tools are:

  • Select  activates the clip tool in the current active window. Use the left mouse button to add points to the clip polyline and the right mouse button to end the selection.
    All data within the polyline will be added to the clip and will turn green.
  • Unselect works in the same way but unselects everything within the polyline.
  • Invert toggles the effect of the select and unselect tool. Instead of selecting everything within the polyline you will select everything outside the polyline.
    Once data is selected it will turn green in the main viewing window.
  • Remove removes selected clips.

Learn more about clipping in this video.

At the bottom left of the clipping panel are four buttons:

  • Select all selects all the points in the currently enabled point cloud(s).
  • Clear  unselects all the points in the currently enabled point cloud(s).
  • Invert inverts the current selection.
  • Hide  will make selected points become invisible/visible.

Professional version users will see an additional three buttons:

  • Delete removes the points in your clip from the point cloud.
    Note: to restore the point cloud back to its original appearance, see section 3.2.
  • Copy copies the points in your clip to a new point cloud. The plug-in will ask you to set a new file name for the new point cloud.
  • Plane through points adds the currently active clip to the Named Cplanes tab. Newly created Cplanes can be seen under the Named Cplanes tab.

Watch this video to learn more about deleting and copying clips.





Here you can see a selected clip highlighted green in the point cloud

As well as creating individual clips you can group a series of clips into a clip group. For example, you may have made a number of clips to isolate a chair in a room. You can select all these clips and create one single clip group by pressing the Create Clip Group button,  located in the clipping tab beneath the top box.

Individual clips or clip groups can be applied at any time by either double-clicking them in the list, or clicking the Process button  opposite the table.

There are two Delete Selected buttons;  the one next to the top window in the clipping tab deletes all individually selected clip(s), while the one in the group section deletes all individually selected clip group(s).

Note: This option does NOT unselect all the points in the currently enabled point clouds. For this to happen, select the Clear button.



3.6.1 Clipping in Slices

If you perform any of the clipping actions while you have a slice active, only data within that slice will be affected.

For example, you may have a slice cutting through the floor of a room, meaning only the floor is visible. Creating a new clip whilst this slice is active will ensure only data from the floor is selected.


3.6.2 Point Clouds

The cloud icon, and the drop-down menu that lets you choose whether to convert the selected area into a native Rhino point cloud object or a VPC file

Point Clouds for Rhino provides the ability to convert your clips into native Rhino point cloud objects, or save them as Veesus VPC files.

Once you have used the clipping tool to highlight an area of interest, select either “Rhino” or “File” from the option at the bottom right of the screen and press the cloud icon.

Learn more about generating Rhino Point Clouds in this video.


3.7 Shader

The Shader tab. See right for descriptions of all the settings. Note the button in the top right that looks like a rectangle with a triangle at the bottom; this is the “apply to all views” button

The shader panel provides control over the planar shader. The planar shader colours data along a plane or vector from the construction plane out, and is a great way of seeing differences in height on surfaces that might otherwise look flat.

The shading is enabled per view. Once enabled/disabled in one view you can apply this to all others by clicking the rectangle button in the top right corner.

Once the shader has been enabled you can change its direction by changing the X,Y,Z values in the shader tab. If your point cloud is aligned to the planes, the X,Y and Z values should add up to 1, with the value 1 being placed in the plane direction you wish to shade. If your point cloud is not true to the planes then you will need to offset the values to align the shader (for instance, you may have X = 0.054, Y=-0.041, and Z=0.998.)

A simpler option is to align the shader to your current view direction. Pressing the eye icon will set the X,Y,Z values for you and set the shader “zero” point to your current view position.

The rest of the options in the shader tab are as follows:

  • Range – sets the distance over which the shader will calculate values, in whatever units you are currently working in.
  • Offset – determines the distance from the shader zero point to start calculating from. Useful for moving the shader along the axis without changing the construction plane.
  • Repeat – how the shader should act once it has gone beyond either the start or end location as calculated by range + offset. The options in the dropdown include:
    • Clamp – continue with first/last colour.
    • Stop – don’t apply colours beyond range.
    • Repeat – loop through the colours again.
  • Colours – lets you choose between your own custom colour palette in the shader, or to use the entire RGB hue values.
  • Blend – changes how much the true colour of the point cloud shows through the shader.


3.8 Clash Detection

Clash detection at work in Rhino. Each red cross denotes a clash between the point cloud and the meshed surface

When activated, this function will detect when point clouds and meshed surfaces come into contact, and the clashed areas will be highlighted with a red cross.

Turning the clash icon on/off will display or remove clashed areas.

Note: visual performance will be reduced with clash enabled.

Learn more about clash detection in this video.










3.9 Viewpoints

The Viewpoints tab, with three viewpoints saved in it

Viewpoints are a fast way of repositioning your view position in each view. If you have a view positioned in a way you would want to recall later, click the Add button to save it. To remove viewpoint(s) highlight and click the Remove button .

Double clicking a saved viewpoint, or selecting it and pressing the Tick button will put all the views back to their saved positions.

















3.10 Rendering VPC files

The Render Properties. To find these, open the document properties and select “Render” under “Document Properties”

Veesus point clouds can be rendered within Rhino using the Veesus Point Cloud Renderer plug-in. First select the “Render Properties” from the Render pull down menu, specify both the resolution and background colour.

Note: resolution is limited unless a licensed plug-in is used.


The Render pull-down menu

To render a point cloud, select the Render pull-down menu. Selecting “Render Preview” will produce a quicker render of the point cloud(s) and “Render” will produced the most detailed render.

Note: the higher the resolution and the more point cloud points you render, the more time it will take for the rendered image to appear.

Functions within the Render window such as Exposure and Post Effects operate in the same manner as the standard Rhino Renderer.



3.11 Point cloud not displayed correctly

There are conditions that may stop a point cloud being displayed:

  • If the point cloud is not displayed correctly in the shaded view, try turning off “ground plane” in Rhino.
  • Some VPC files are “protected.” Protected files disable export functions and users can add an expiry date to the data. Once the expiry date has passed you will no longer be able to view the data.
  • The point cloud file(s) may have been moved from its original directory location. If this is the case the point cloud will have to be re-loaded from its new location, or moved back to its original location.

Any point clouds that have not been loaded correctly will be shown in red in the Point Clouds tab. If your point cloud data is not visible, check with the person who provided the VPC file whether they protected and enforced an expiry data on the files you were provided.


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