Axis 3D Surveillance Design Tool

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 27, 2014

Want to layout your cameras in a 3D model showing how far, wide and at what angle they cover? Like so:

Axis has announced a free extension for a popular free 3D modeling software to do so.

IPVM has tested it out and found it useful for cameras generically, not just Axis. Inside this post, we share a video screencast review and analysis of this option.


There are two components of this: SketchUp and Axis Camera Extension for SketchUP. By itself, SketchUp has a global user base built during the time it was owned by Google and given away free. In recent years, Trimble has taken over ownership, but still maintains a free version that claims millions of downloads worldwide.

The major benefit to this offering is that it is a no cost CAD program with a no cost surveillance design module added.  While the depth of tools and features is not as powerful as JVSG or CCTV CAD, it does offer some useful features.

In the video below, we give a short overview of Axis' new Camera Extension plugin for SketchUp:

Recapping the key findings of our walkthrough: 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • Not Just Axis: While the tool is 'Axis-centric' and includes the full portfolio of Axis cameras and mounts, they included a 'generic' option that allows you to customize any box or dome camera regardless of manufacturer. The fields of view adjust according to the cameras details plugged in and the resulting coverage map is useful no matter whose gear is specified.
  • Sketchup Buildings Required: A key disadvantage for many users will be the need to create a base building model in SketchUp before placing cameras. Existing models can be exported from other CAD systems, or might even be available in the public domain, but otherwise need to be created beforehand.
  • Not Clunky: Usually freeware is half-baked or becomes unstable when heavily taxed. The Axis tool/SketchUp combo showed no signs of crashing or even slowing down even after we dropped 50+ cameras over three separate buildings in the same instance. The platform ran well on our standard laptop and did not need a special graphics card or hardware to be useful.
  • Novice Friendly: SketchUp and the Axis plugin are easy to pick up for non-draftsman. No prior CAD knowledge is needed to use either tool, and even a designer with no experience can hit up sample YouTube videos that will get them up to speed in just a few hours.


However, those benefits may not be enough to dethrone full-cost design tools:

  • Nonstandard Filetypes: While SketchUp is a big thing with hobbyists, education, and small business crowd, it is not a mainstream CAD platform used in mainstream architectural and engineering groups. Even if building models are available, they might not be exportable in the '.skb' format needed by SketchUp, nor are the resulting models in the free version of SketchUp importable in most CAD programs.
  • More Details, More Time: The old saying 'garbage in, garbage out' applies to CAD models, and even travels a step further - models are not useful unless they have sufficient detail. Even experienced operators need time to develop the details that might affect camera placement or FoV planning. The simple omission of details like landscaping, facades, or window/door placement can ruin the utility of this solution.
  • No 'Backend' Details: Another drawback of the free solution is the lack of network design or server specification tools. Unlike 'for fee' software that often include generic bandwidth and storage calculators and even ethernet design tools, Axis' plugin for SketchUp does not include anything for backend design. 

Other Offerings / Options

Besides the aforementioned commercial surveillance specific options JVSG or CCTV CAD, there are also:

While many software options exist, using them require differing degrees of training and experience and range in cost from less than one hundred to thousands of dollars. 


Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Phone Camera Calculator Released on Mar 10, 2020
IPVM has released the first-ever Phone Calculator, video surveillance design software that you can use on your phone, without installing an...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...
Last Chance - Camera Course Winter 2020 on Jan 30, 2020
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
Installation Course January 2020 - Last Chance on Jan 16, 2020
Thursday, January 16th is your last chance to register for the Winter 2020 Video Surveillance Installation Course. This is a unique installation...
2020 Camera Book Released on Jan 10, 2020
This is the best, most comprehensive security camera training in the world, based on our unprecedented testing. Now, all IPVM PRO Members can get...
2020 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 06, 2020
The new IP Networking Book 2020 is a 280 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security systems,...
Security Sales Course January 2020 - Last Chance on Jan 02, 2020
Notice: This is the last chance to register for the course. This sales course is customized for the current needs and challenges specific to...
Camera Calculator V3.1 Release Improves User Experience on Oct 17, 2019
IPVM has released a new version of our Camera Calculator, V3.1, with significant user experience improvements, a new development plan, and an...
Axis Suffers Outage, Provides Postmortem on Aug 15, 2019
This week, Axis suffered an outage impacting their website and cloud services. Inside this note, we examined what happened, what was impacted...
Beware African 50,000 IP Camera Contract Scam on Jul 12, 2019
A “Nigerian Prince” scam for the video surveillance market is going around. You, or at least we, could be lucky enough to be the single bidder for...

Most Recent Industry Reports

USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and branding itself as a "COVID 19 - AI BASED NON CONTACT THERMAL...
JCI Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 31, 2020
JCI has made coronavirus cuts, the company told employees in an email that IPVM has reviewed. Inside this note, we examine the cuts made, the...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance business for those new to the industry. This is part of our Video...
FDA Gives Guidance on 'Coronavirus' Thermal Fever Detection Systems on Mar 30, 2020
The US FDA has given IPVM guidance on the use of thermal fever detection systems being marketed for coronavirus, as an explosion of such devices...
Worsen: Integrators Hit Even Harder By Coronavirus on Mar 30, 2020
Integrator's problems have worsened over the past 2 weeks, according to new IPVM survey results. Inside this report, we share statistics and...
Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter of a billion dollars in VC funding, and multiple failures to gain...
Athena CEO Criticizes 'Deplorable' 'Nitpicking', IPVM Refutes on Mar 27, 2020
UPDATE: NBC News Report Cites IPVM On Coronavirus 'Fever Detection' Cameras Athena Security's CEO Lisa Falzone has strongly objected to IPVM's...
Hikvision Admits Sanctions Harming Its Financial Performance on Mar 27, 2020
While Hikvision initially downplayed being sanctioned for human rights abuses, the company is now admitting a significant impact in a new PRC...