Pelco's 3D Design Tool Reviewed

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on May 25, 2012

Despite living in the age of computer aided design, many designers and engineers take to 'paper and pencil' during video system design because the software based alternatives are simply too expensive or too awkward to use. A few surveillance design tools do exist but are often either limited in functionality or hundreds of dollars.

In a surprise, Pelco has elected to just "give away" such a piece of software. In this note, we overview Pelco's "3D Camera Design Tool", describe the strengths/weaknesses of the software, and summarize when it is most useful.

Regular readers may remember Pelco has another utility called the Pelco Camera Tool, a free 2D offering that we previously reviewed and found quite useful. This 3D Tool is more powerful yet more complex.

Below is a screencast reviewing the software, how the interface works, and what to expect when using it:

Note, as shown in the User Guide and in a press release [link no longer available], this tool is an OEM of Feeling Software / Fortem's 3D Pro Design, which costs thousands per license.

If you are interested in learning more, here is Pelco's own tutorial on how to use the 3D camera tool:

In general, the software guide [link no longer available] was straightforward in describing software features and does a good job of explaining basic operation.

Below we contrast 'Strengths' and 'Weaknesses' of what we found especially useful, insightful, or limiting:

Strengths

  • Free download from Pelco's website.
  • Works with common 'CAD' format .dwg files
  • Easy to take a '2D' only floorplan and make it '3D' through automated process
  • Includes scaled reference models of people and cars for planning camera locations and lens specification.
  • The 'bill of material' export provides a simple, easy to understand way to share critical design details with field installers.

Weaknesses

  • The software is more of a 'visualization tool' than a true 'design tool', because it lacks or omits important details like cabling, power, server locations, network/storage design, and lighting details.
  • Base drawing information must be drawn in a certain way in order to be successfully imported. For example, windows have to be drawn properly or they will be imported as sections of walls.
  • The software only imports 'simple details' like walls, doors, and windows, and can not display complex features like columns, cased openings, and ceilings without substantial tweaking of imported drawing.
  • Camera selection is limited to Pelco products. However, general substitutions with other manufacturers can be made based on similar performance specifications.
  • Our test computer met all the minimum requirements, but the software intermittently locked up a few times during the evaluation period.
  • The software becomes unwieldy and cumbersome when trying to navigate large plans, and would require too much 'rework' of base drawings for productive use.

In all, we expect this tool to be most useful for those designers who may not have a firm understanding of spatial relationships in camera design, or for use in smaller jobs. The Design Tool might be helpful 'walking a customer' through a proposed system, especially when justifying proposed camera counts. Understanding exactly the cameras needed to 'see' an area through simulation could help the integrator defend a design or permit the customer to prioritize the most important views.

Alternatives

The two most commonly cited camera design tools are JVSG's CCTV Design Tool and CCTVCAD's VideoCAD.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Camera Course Winter 2020 on Jan 10, 2020
This is the only independent surveillance camera course, based on in-depth product and technology testing. Lots of manufacturer training exists...
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...
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...
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,...
Milestone Launches Marketplace Where Nothing Is For Sale on Feb 26, 2019
The central announcement at Milestone's annual conference MIPS is Marketplace, which Milestone compared to Uber and Match.com for its ability to...
AI Video Tester Released on Apr 02, 2019
IPVM has released the world's first AI video tester that lets you see how various AI models (including from Amazon, Google, Microsoft and YOLO)...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
The 259 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It includes our manufacturer favorability rankings and individual...
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...
Video Surveillance 101 Course Opened on Dec 12, 2019
IPVM is adding a Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the most important terms,...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Axis and Genetec Drop IFSEC 2020 on Jan 23, 2020
Two of the best-known video surveillance manufacturers are dropping IFSEC International 2020, joining Milestone who dropped IFSEC in 2019. The...
Multipoint Door Lock Tutorial on Jan 23, 2020
Despite widespread use, locked doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry, and thousands can be misspent on locks that leave doors quite...
Avigilon Shifts Cloud Strategy - Merges Blue and ACC on Jan 23, 2020
Avigilon is shifting its cloud strategy, phasing out its Blue web-managed surveillance platform as a stand-alone brand and merging it with its ACC...
Verkada Paying $100 For Referrals Just To Demo on Jan 22, 2020
Some companies pay for referrals when the referral becomes a customer. Verkada is taking it to the next level - paying $100 referrals fees simply...
Camera Analytics Shootout 2020 - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Jan 22, 2020
Analytics are hot again, thanks to a slew of AI-powered cameras, but whose analytics really work? And how do these new smart cameras compare to top...
Intersec 2020 Final Show Report on Jan 21, 2020
IPVM spent all 3 days at the Intersec 2020 show interviewing various companies and finding key trends. We cover: Middle East Enterprise...
Vehicle & Long Range Access Reader Tutorial on Jan 21, 2020
One of the classic challenges for access control are parking lots and garages, where the user's credential is far from the reader. With modern...
Clearview AI Alarm - NY Times Report Says "Might End Privacy" on Jan 20, 2020
Over the weekend, the NY Times released a report titled "The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It" about a company named...
Favorite Camera Manufacturers 2020 on Jan 20, 2020
The past 2 years of US bans and sanctions have shaken the video surveillance industry but what impact would this have on integrators' favorite...