While working in 3D-visualization software such as Lumion, features such as OpenStreetMap (OSM) and satellite ground planes can provide some context for your design. They are suitable options for quickly building urban or rural environments relevant to your project’s location, but they’re also limited. For instance, OSM only provides rough building shapes, rendered white, and the satellite maps are flat, often outdated, and the resolution is too low for client visualization. This all got me thinking—there has to be a better way to improve fast context-building without having to sacrifice photorealism. I investigated several options, starting with Google Maps and Google Earth SDKs, but these services do not allow their data to be used outside the scope of Google Maps and Google Earth, such as for architectural visualization.
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