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Mapping & 3D Modeling 101—A Fully Revamped Course for 2017

BY Zacc Dukowitz
15 May 2017

We’re excited to share the news that we’ve just completed a full overhaul of our course Mapping and 3D Modeling 101.

Big congratulations are in order for Lewis Butler and Trevor Duke, the course instructors and owners of Icarus Aerials. Lewis and Trevor have worked tirelessly to bring us a 2.0 version of Mapping and 3D Modeling 101, and the end result is a beautiful series of reshot videos, new resources, and a course that is hugely improved to provide even more value for commercial pilots looking to beef up their skill sets.

Read on to learn about the value of expanding your product offerings as a commercial UAV pilot with mapping and 3D modeling, or jump straight down to find out what’s new in this revamped version of the course.

Already a student of Mapping and 3D Modeling 101? Jump down to a section just for you.

How to Make Money with Mapping and 3D Modeling

If you’re curious about mapping and 3D modeling with drones, you’re probably wondering how you can turn this skill set into actual income.

Big picture, construction, agriculture, and real estate applications for UAVs are booming these days, and all of these applications incorporate mapping and/or 3D modeling.

3D Robotics—which looked like it was on the brink of ruin not too long ago—recently announced a huge series D funding round of $53 million for their construction-focused platform for drone data called Site Scan.

And after laying off 300 people only a few months back, French drone maker Parrot just announced the launch of a Professional drone line aimed at small and medium construction, agriculture, and real estate businesses, indicating a lot of confidence in the future growth of these applications for UAVs.

So how do maps fit in?

We’ll share an example to help illustrate how powerful this drone pilot skill set can be.

When construction companies are bidding on multi-million dollar real estate development jobs, they need to stand out.

Typically, they’ll stress their experience, their reputation, and that they are on top of all the best construction technology. The goal here is to show that they can build better, faster, and more on schedule than their competitors.

As you might imagine, having aerial maps and models during the bidding process can offer a HUGE advantage to winning business. Not just in saving the construction company time, but in putting together a sexier bid and building trust with the developers.

And, during actual development, construction companies can save thousands in project surveys by using aerial maps for monitoring and to show progress.

Using an unmanned aerial system can help answer important questions like:

  • Is the grade correct?
  • Is the drainage correct?
  • How much dirt do we need to fill?
  • Is the 2nd floor level?

Of course, the construction industry is just one place where mapping and modeling can offer a strong return-on-investment. There’s also agriculture, real estate, mining, oil & gas surveys, and more…and as we said above, the use of UAVs in these these sectors is growing rapidly.

Mapping and 3D Modeling 101 provides a comprehensive introduction to hardware, software and technique for this nascent industry. I sincerely appreciate the knowledge and real-world experience shared by Lewis and Trevor in this wonderful course, which delivers actionable insight into the tremendous market opportunity for UAS-based photogrammetry and orthomosaic photography.”

                – Jim Brammer, Owner at Soaring Vistas Media

Want to learn more about Mapping and 3D Modeling 101? Get started here.

But Isn’t It Expensive to Get into Mapping / Modeling?

With existing equipment (your DJI or 3DR drone, or any model that takes high-quality imagery) and the right trial software, you can generate maps and models for free…TODAY. The software we cover in this class either has a free demo/trial, offers small maps for free, or you can pay by the month or by project.

It’s more approachable to get into this type of aerial work than you might think.

What’s New in the Revamped Course?

We’ve included more details, new content and topics, and all new videos with higher production value, with the overall goal of providing the most up-to-date resources out there to get pilots up and running with mapping and 3D modeling.

Here’s an overview of what’s new in the revamped version of Mapping and 3D Modeling 101.

1) Discussion of Ground Control Points

The course now includes a detailed discussion of ground control points, with a six minute video dedicated to covering what ground control points are, placement, and how to increase the accuracy of a map even if you don’t have access to ground control points.

These new materials will be most valuable to those pilots who want to increase the accuracy of their maps and measurements but don’t have a background in surveying.

We’ve found this approach ideal for drone pilots like us, who aren’t professional surveyors but who do want to find ways to increase the accuracy of our approach, with the goal of augmenting our workflow so we can deliver a better end product for our clients.

2) New Animations


There are new animations sprinkled throughout the course, and new and improved visuals have been created, many with the aid of multiple camera angles.

The course now contains animation covering how the height at which you fly will impact sidelap and overlap, with props used to better describe sidelap and overlap. There are also new definitions and prompts in the videos during discussions of key concepts and ideas.

Finally, there is an enhanced explanatory animation of 3D modeling, and how the entire process works.

3) Higher Overall Production Value 

That’s right. This new and improved version of the course looks way better than the previous version. (In the original course, the videos were comprised of single angle DSLR shots. No more!)

The new videos were recorded on professional grade equipment in a studio setting with multiple camera angles, mics on our instructors Lewis and Trevor, and professional lighting. On the post-production side, the videos were professionally edited, including the audio.

All of these changes have led to a huge improvement in the quality of the videos, and to the overall experience of taking the course for our students.

4) More Apps Covered


As the drone industry grows, so do the number of apps that support commercial pilots.

To keep up, the number of apps used for mapping, modeling, and related efforts has been expanded in the new version of the course, and the screencast that covers the different apps is now shiny and new, with crisp audio and visual.

The screenshot above shows all the apps recommended by Lewis and Trevor (note that not all of the apps in the screenshot pertain directly to mapping and modeling, but rather represent a full suite of apps to support commercial drone ops in general).

Here are the apps that have in-depth demos in the new version of the course:

DJI Mission Planning Software

  • Maps Made Easy – iOS only
  • Drone Deploy – Android & iOS
  • Skycatch Commander – iOS only
  • Pix4D Capture – Android & iOS
  • DJI Gs Pro – iOS only

Key Course Info

Wondering what Mapping and 3D Modeling 101 looks like? Here’s an overview.

Key Course Details:

  • 15 lectures and 2+ hours of video instruction
  • Special focus on DJI and 3DR models / software
  • Special focus on using Drone Deploy and Maps Made Easy
  • Private student forum to ask questions, network, and share your work
  • Lifetime access (self-paced course can be viewed on mobile, tablet, etc.)

Who This Course Is for:

  • UAV pilots and businesses who want to expand their product offerings to more than just photography and videography.
  • Surveyors who want to be early adopters and integrate UAVs with their existing survey methods.
  • Existing experts in mapping and modeling who can benefit from using UAVs to capture data in a cost effective way.
  • Individuals and businesses who can benefit from receiving up-to-date actionable information at a relatively low cost.
  • Marketing and sales departments who can benefit from showing sites and buildings in a cutting edge way to prospective clients during pitches.

Want to learn more about Mapping and 3D Modeling 101? Get started here.

I’m Already a Student of the Course—What Do I Need to Know?

Already a student of Mapping and 3D Modeling 101?

Here’s what to look for in this revamped version (which is included with your existing course access at no extra cost):

  • Demos for all apps have been updated, with improved visual and audio
  • New apps have been added (see full list here)
  • New discussion of ground control points
  • New animations and props throughout the course to better illustrate key concepts
  • New videos, with much higher production value overall

Finally, it’s important that we extend a big THANK YOU to all Maps and 3D Modeling 101 students for all of your helpful feedback. The improvements that have been made were largely in response to your notes. We couldn’t have done this without your help and support.


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