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What is a scene layer?

Scene layers are optimized for displaying a large amount of 3D data in a scene. Scene layers are used across the ArcGIS platform in applications like Scene Viewer, ArcGIS Earth, and ArcGIS Pro. A scene layer is one of four layer types: a point scene layer, a point cloud scene layer, a 3D object scene layer, or an integrated mesh scene layer. Once a scene layer is published as a service layer it becomes a web scene layer.

You can combine scene layers with other content in a scene and work with them together. For example, you might make a scene layer partially transparent, or swipe scene layers to visualize a scene with and without 3D content. To snap to scene layer features, enable snapping and hover near a feature. The pointer snaps to geometry that corresponds to the enabled snap agents such as an endpoint of a line or a point.

All scene layers can be packaged into a scene layer package (.slpk). A scene layer package should comply with the Indexed 3D Scene layer (I3S) format. The I3S format is an open 3D content delivery format used to disseminate 3D GIS data to mobile, web and desktop clients. Use the Validate Scene Layer Package geoprocessing tool to evaluate a scene layer package file to determine its conformity to I3S specifications.

Create a scene layer with the Create Scene Layer Package tool and then upload it to ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online. Alternatively, a 3D object or point scene layer can be created by sharing a web scene layer. This creates a scene layer with an associated feature layer, which provides richer statistically information to be used for symbology and to use in a definition query.

Point scene layers

To ensure fast visualization in all clients, cached point scene layers are used to display large amounts of point data in ArcGIS Pro and a web scene. For example, you can use a scene layer to display the trees in a city using preset layers.

Point scene layers are automatically thinned to improve performance and visibility at greater distances. Automatic thinning means that not all features are displayed at greater distances. As you zoom in, additional features are displayed until you reach the highest level of detail, when all points will be shown.

A point scene layer can be created using the Create Scene Layer Package geoprocessing tool, which generates an .slpk file on disk. This file can then be previewed directly inside ArcGIS Pro, and then uploaded to ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online using the Share Package geoprocessing tool to be published as a service layer.

Example of a point scene layer

An example of a point scene layer

Point cloud scene layer

Point cloud scene layers provide fast display of large volumes of symbolized and filtered point cloud data. They are optimized for the display and sharing of many kinds of sensor data, including lidar. Point cloud scene layers help share 3D point cloud content across the platform.

A point cloud scene layer can be created using the Create Scene Layer Package geoprocessing tool, which generates an .slpk file on disk. This file can then be previewed directly inside ArcGIS Pro, and then uploaded to ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online using the Share Package geoprocessing tool to be published as a service layer.

A point cloud scene layer supports point cloud data in LAS, Optimized LAS (.ZLAS), LAS dataset, and LAZ format. Individual and folders of LAS, ZLAS and LAZ files can also be used as input to the Create Scene Layer Package tool.

Note:

A LAS dataset that references LAS and ZLAS files can also be used to create a point cloud scene layer. Any symbology and point filtering that has been applied to the points of a LAS dataset layer will be used to create the point cloud scene layer. A default elevation symbology and no point filtering will be used to create a point cloud scene layer when individual files or a folder of files (LAS, ZLAS, LAZ) is used as input. To optimize the point cloud data and define properties such as symbology and filtering, use the LAS dataset as input.

Example of a point cloud scene layer

An example of a point cloud scene layer

3D object scene layers

A 3D object scene layer can be used to represent and visualize objects such as buildings that are explicitly modeled in three dimensions. A 3D object scene layer is typically used to create large city models that can be shared. The objects can be displayed with textures or with color symbology depending on the content that is being visualized. 3D object scene layers are true 3D objects and only absolute height can be defined.

Example of point and 3D object scene layers

An example of point and 3D object scene layers

A 3D object scene layer can be created using the Create Scene Layer Package geoprocessing tool, which generates an .slpk file on disk. This file can then be previewed directly inside ArcGIS Pro, and then uploaded to ArcGIS Enterprise or ArcGIS Online using the Share Package geoprocessing tool to be published as a service layer.

Integrated mesh scene layers

Three-dimensional mesh data is typically captured by an automated process for constructing 3D objects out of large sets of overlapping imagery. The result integrates the original input image information as a textured mesh including 3D objects, such as buildings and trees, and elevation information. Integrated mesh scene layers are generally created for citywide 3D mapping. They are often captured by drone and cannot be restyled.

Example of an integrated mesh scene layer

An example of an integrated mesh scene layer
Note:

When an integrated mesh in a projected coordinate system is added to a scene, it is added in local view with the basemap and default elevation source removed. An integrated mesh with a geographic coordinate system, such as WGS84, is added to a global scene with both the default basemap and elevation source.