Leveraging 3D Modeling and Printing Skills as a Service: Mapping the Abbey of Chateliers and Church of Ars-en-Ré

Leveraging 3D Modeling and Printing Skills as a Service: Mapping the Abbey of Chateliers and Church of Ars-en-Ré

In order to explore how to better expand and improve their services, French photography and photogrammetry-based service provider Unautregard teamed up with Planète Sports &Loisirs and 3D Arcwest, to capture, 3D model, and 3D print the ruins of the Abbey of Chateliers and the church of Ars-en-Ré: two cultural heritage icons of the Île de Ré, in France.

Project Info

3D modeling and printing skills

Project Description

Exploring ways to expand and better their services, the participants developed a project to present what can be achieved by combining aerial photography, photogrammetry-based 3D modeling, and 3D printing.

“First we had to select iconic buildings on the island which were aesthetic enough to highlight their aerial capturing, and interesting enough in terms of volumes to be 3D printed.” said Guy Dentan.


Each participant brought up different elements to the project: Guy Dentan from Unautregard added his photography and photogrammetry-based 3D modeling expertise, Michael Morin from Planète Sports &Loisirs his aerial photography skills, and Killian Jouan from 3D Arcwest his 3D printing experience.

The project comprised three stages: capturing the aerial images, processing them into 3D models using Pix4D software, and 3D printing the resulting meshes.

Data Acquisition

The data acquisition methods and equipment had to be adapted to two different environment conditions. The ruins of the Abbey of Chatelier, constructed in the 12th century, are located in the middle of fields in a rural environment, while the church of Ars-en-Ré, a building dating from the 15th century, stands with its emblematic black and white bell tower on a square in the center of the village, in a densely built area.

Abbey of Chatelier

To capture the ruins of the main building and remains spread on surrounding fields, the equipment chosen was a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced drone and an iPad Mini to control the drone with Pix4Dcapture in ” Free Flight Mission” mode.


Two 20-minute flights were necessary to capture the 851 images used as input.

Church of Ars-en-Ré

In order to reconstruct the church and its tall steeple with high precision, and to overcome the challenge posed by a densely built surrounding environment, the team chose a DJI Inspire 1 drone fitted with a Zenmuse X5 camera, and an iPad Mini to control the drone flight and image capture with Pix4Dcapture in “Free Flight Mission” mode.


Seven 20-minute drone flights were necessary to capture the 1222 images used as input

Achieved Results

 Abbey of Chatelier

The processing Quality Report of this project outlined a GSD of 1.06 cm / 0.42 in. The mesh generated by Pix4D was optimal upon completion of calculation; it offered unparalleled realism and a very high level of detail. Shrubs around the ruins were cleared using Pix4D editing tools to make the model ready to print in 3D.


Church of Ars-en-Ré

The processing Quality Report of this project outlined an impressively low GSD of 0.7 cm / 0.27 in, and as in the case of the abbey, the mesh was edited in order to remove unwanted elements before 3D printing. All the cars that were parked around the building were suppressed with the Pix4D software editing tools.


Advantage of This New Technology

Guy Dentan of Unautregard

“I am constantly seeking to understand, master, and associate the best technologies available on the market to create an innovative package of products and services. It is a genuine work philosophy.

I simply don’t find it interesting to develop what already exists. For this project, we had to combine drones, digital photography, Pix4D software, 3D modeling, and printing to form a coherent set to satisfy or create customer needs.


A sales pitch is a lot more convincing when showing the complete process with images rather than delivering long explanations. I spend a lot of time making videos of my different projects to share with future customers and their feedback is always excellent since Pix4D models and exports are of outstanding quality.”

To try the software, DOWNLOAD HERE or sign up for PIX4D CLOUD.

Author: Guy Dentan

Categories: GIS

About Author

GIS Resources

GIS Resources is an initiative of Spatial Media and Services Enterprises with the purpose that everyone can enrich their knowledge and develop competitiveness. GIS Resources is a global platform, for latest and high-quality information source for the geospatial industry, brings you the latest insights into the developments in geospatial science and technology.

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.