LIME allows virtual 3D models to be loaded from a number of sources. Load models from conventional disk files in standard graphics formats (e.g. obj, fbx, 3ds, stl, ply). Digital elevation or other grid surface formats are also supported (see here). Or take advantage of modern cloud connections to load models from services such as V3Geo and SafariDB.

We know that working with photogrammetric and lidar data often involves very large 3D datasets. In the past this meant splitting the 3D data into many sections, and working with a limited subset so that computer hardware and software did not get overloaded. With LIME, two critical features ensure that you can scale your projects to include high resolution 3D models and even multiple localities or scales of data:

  1. Tiled model handling using level of detail (LOD) and out of core rendering.
  2. Connections to cloud sources to dynamically load high resolution models over the internet, without having to first manually transfer or share gigabytes of data files.


Tiled models

Tiled models comprise a hierarchy of files, where the original high resolution 3D model is progressively simplified into several LODs, and each LOD is split into increasingly fine-grained tiles until a threshold is reached. Every tile stores the filenames to its children. The result might be thousands of files on disk, but it is only necessary to load the coarsest level of detail into LIME and the viewer takes care of upping the resolution of the 3D model as you zoom in.

The advantage is that you can seamlessly move from overviews of a section to detailed close-ups without compromising on resolution or computer performance. In addition, you can easily hop between different localities, models, hand samples etc, within the same LIME session.


3D models from the cloud

Today’s web technology means that we have the potential to access data over the cloud as never before. Even though tiled 3D models are extremely efficient to load and visualise, they have conventionally been challenging to manage and share with colleagues, sponsors or in classrooms, due to the very large datasets and many thousands of files. To get around these issues and facilitate sharing, we have created V3Geo as a repository for 3D models in geoscience.

In LIME, hundreds of V3Geo public model are just a couple of clicks away using the custom interface to the database. Load a model from the cloud in a few seconds to start visualisation and interpretation. If you have a V3Geo account, you can log in to see your own model contributions (public and private) and those shared with you by another V3Geo user.


Virtual outcrop model loaded from V3Geo cloud source (Gerace, VOG Group,

If you work for a company that is a sponsor of the SAFARI project, you can also log in and connect to around 500 virtual outcrop models using the custom SAFARI connection in LIME.

Tiled models and cloud access – two ways that LIME is making the use of virtual 3D models easier than ever before.


Further reading

Buckley, S.J., Ringdal, K., Naumann, N., Dolva, B., Kurz, T.H., Howell, J.A., Dewez, T.J.B., 2019. LIME: Software for 3-D visualization, interpretation, and communication of virtual geoscience models, Geosphere, 15(1): 222-235. doi:10.1130/GES02002.1.

Buckley, S. J., Vallet, J., Braathen, A. and Wheeler, W., 2008. Oblique helicopter-based laser scanning for digital terrain modelling and visualisation of geological outcrops. International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, 37(B4): 493-498.


© Virtual Outcrop Geology Group, NORCE Norwegian Research Centre, Bergen, Norway

Log in