Lidar Point Cloud in TouchDesigner?

A laser scan in TD, Im wondering if this is at all possible or has been attempted. Typically we would poly mesh scan data which can take a week! Im dreaming I guess but a point cloud viewer in TD would be awesome in our dome…

Are you looking to visualize the raw points, or do you want them automoatically converted into a poly mesh?

Hi Rob,

Im looking to to visualize the raw points only.

Hi Jonathan.
Others here can probably give you more specific rendering techniques, but can’t think of any reason why TouchDesigner wouldn’t be able to display a large set of points.

You could simply create a geometry point for each point and display them directly, or perhapse use instancing for some more refined results.

What format does the data arrive in typically?

E57 is the newly ‘agreed standard’ format which all should export to however .ptx and .pts are quite common (depends on the manufacturer).

I just looked into the specs of the PTS file format which is easy:

-0.053833 0.265564 0.103424 -309 48 19 5
-0.174194 0.306519 0.097565 -203 72 46 21
-0.399567 0.003235 0.099274 -484 63 37 31

The first three values of every line are always your XYZ positions. Last three values are always RGB color. (number in between is accuracy, more info here). So displaying this in TD would be straightforward. But looking at some example Lidar pointcloud datasets I think the problem is more the huge amount of points.

For instance, here’s the stanford bunny in PTS which has ~30.000 points.

What type of datasets would you like to use?

Well :slight_smile:
Would like to see how many points can be handled. Its always millions and often billions but models can be decimated for various applications. I could get a hold of a model decimated at various degrees for testing, I could share the files if anyone is interested.

If the format is just space separated values, you could easily import them into CHOPs by renaming the file with .chan extension,
or even import it into a File In DAT as a .txt file, possibly specifying a different separate character.
From there you could convert them to Geometry Points and then render them in a SOP, or use Point Sprites for better effects.
Do you have a small sample you want to share we could try on?

My good buddy has kindly provided some .pts scan data at various densities. I’d suggest trying the least dense scan, 20 x 20 (1 point for every 20). The full res. version is 140 million points. The models’ of a megalithic dolmen, see here:
Message me or send an email ( and I’ll send anyone interested the laser scan data.

No-one want to have a play with some laser scan data? I can forward one if you PM me.


Yes, of course! you have a file to share you mean? Does it load ok all those points? I tried a few drag and drops of various formats without any luck some time ago then gave up, I never knew you could rename files to read anything.

I saw really cool data from handheld lidar amateur made for 99$ it seems.
I could not find anyone sharing such data on the net so far, we may have to build one. While I would just love to mess with it in touchdesigner, 2sec I find you the video

Next generation of visuals with that for sure, then you could almost load photos to combine with lidar data, if only you could get perfect xyz position of the camera for every shot.

Some softwares sort of do that already Photogrammetry ones then you can load your shots taken from a drone to map something, This would be interesting tool to 3d map buildings in general. Get real dimensions of a building to load in touch with the real texture.

Yet no one seems to be interested except 3 people.

I also think that AphexTwin clip ‘T69 Collapse’ uses that technique perhaps for the flight through streets.

Facebook is vampirising the forum I suppose

load all points into Meshlab and kill 1/2 of the points?

Hi, you can find databases of cloud archives in many sites and for free. Some brands like FARO have some examples, but there are also libraries if you look for them. I was in the same problem, worse now I do them using photogrammetry that basically is the same. IF you want I can send you a simple example, because they are very heavy. In the end the only way I have had to load that LIDAR data (laz, pts etc) is converting them to a text table such as meshlab, for example.

A little late here! But check out this example by jonny know. Theres a toe example of how to import lidar scan files in glsl:

I used his example in a much more simple project:

Also there is a “point in file” top in the newest experimental build.

Im totally digging pointclouds atm and would be super interested in sharing knowledge!

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Excuse me, where is the case, I don’t see it