New map engine is struggling with trees/water?

I am making an assumption here. I think Drone Deploy changed the way they process images a few months ago. In some ways its better i.e. Plant health is way better. But here is an issue I have never had until recently.

The lake on left is rendered correctly. The lake on right shows ground from Google Earth

The dark shade in trees is actually Google Earth trees.

Both the images above export giant holes which I guess I am supposed to fill in manually ?

I work in Florida so not capturing water or dense tress is not an option. It appears the new processing engine gives up on complicated stitches? This is not acceptable because the exported image now has giant holes in the image wherever there are trees and water?

Can you please look into this?

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@WaterWiz water is always going to be a problem because there are no consistent features to get tie points from, but I too have been having issues with trees processed in both terrain and structure mode. Structure was worse. Trees are tough because they can be quite a bit taller than the terrain you took-off from leading to a lack of overlap. They also suffer if there is any wind.

@Kaitlin_Blando, this looks similar to the results from my maps that we are troubleshooting.

I would point out that I have over 2 years of imagery under same scenario where this was never an issue until a few months ago?


Exactly. Two years here and I’ve never seen this problem before. I have two maps into engineering right now so we’ll keep this thread updated now that I know it’s not an isolated incident.

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Hi Aaron,

I’m James from DroneDeploy. I work with our computer vision team on photogrammetry.

You are absolutely correct that we changed our processing algorithm in July to improve our point cloud quality significantly. Part of that change was making is more “certain” of the location of a point in 3D space, and thus more accurate. It also allowed us to better resolve thin structures in maps such as lamp poles, pipelines, and other complex equipment.

The downside as you’ve seen is that, particularly in our “structures” processing mode, we are now more prone to discarding all the points that make up moving surfaces. That includes trees that are moving in the wind, and clear/reflective water with a constantly moving surface.

We will continue to tune this over time, but for now if you are looking for high coverage, I recommend using our “terrain” mode for processing. It includes aggressive hole filling which resolves flat surfaces for lakes, and more faithfully recovers something tree shaped on a windy day.

If this workaround (or the terrain output) is unacceptable for another reason, please let me know and I will bear this in mind as we iterate.


What is terrain processing mode? I have never heard of this?

Thanks for addressing this!

When you upload your photos you have the choice of terrain and structure processing. The program will typically default to structure if you have oblique images, otherwise it will choose terrain processing. If you are concerned with ground contour accuracy then you will want to choose terrain mode. If you are trying to make pretty 3D models with vertical elements then use structure mode. If you are trying to model a whole site in structure mode then the flat/horizontal surfaces and homogeneous areas will suffer.

Hi Aaron,

When you click “upload” in a dronedeploy project, you can choose either “Terrain” or “Structures” map type.