Self-Directed Courses

Introduction to photogrammetry in journalism: Capturing your world in 3D

Instructor(s):   Ben Kreimer
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This self-directed course features course content from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas' massive open online course (MOOC) titled “Introduction to photogrammetry in journalism: Capturing your world in 3D”. The four-week course took place from June 27 - July 24, 2022.

Thanks to support from

The course was taught by Ben Kreimer, a creative technologist working on enduring journalistic and communications applications for drones, 360° video, photogrammetric 3D reconstructions, spatial audio, volumetric video, and other emerging and emerged media technologies. He created and curated the content for the course, which includes video classes, readings, exercises, and more.

 The course materials are broken into four modules, along with an introductory module:

We encourage you to watch the videos, review the readings, and complete the exercises as time allows. The course materials build off each other, but the videos and readings also act as standalone resources that you can return to over time.

We hope you enjoy the materials. If you have any questions, please contact us at journalismcourses@austin.utexas.edu.

Meet the Instructor

Ben KreimerBen Kreimer is a creative technologist working on enduring journalistic and communications applications for drones, 360° video, photogrammetric 3D reconstructions, spatial audio, volumetric video, and other emerging and emerged media technologies. Through global collaborations with journalists, scholars, students, artists, mission-driven organizations, and businesses, he focuses on democratizing access to hardware and software tools, including the use of open-source platforms and low-cost hacks and materials.

As BuzzFeed Open Lab Beta Fellow in 2015, he designed open-source 3D printed 360° camera kits for reporters and co-produced many of BuzzFeed's early 360° videos. The first received over 6 million views. Ben has consulted on multiple National Science Foundation funded projects, and done interdisciplinary work with Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, the Ford Foundation, USC Annenberg, the University of Nebraska’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, Georgia Tech’s School of Building Construction, The Times of India, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade innovationXchange, CCTV Africa, African Wildlife Foundation, Antiochia ad Cragum Archaeological Research Project, Drone Journalism Lab, and other international organizations.

Ben has presented his work globally at conferences, including Media Party Africa and the Digital Innovators’ Summit in Berlin, and universities, including Daystar University (Nairobi), the University of Hyderabad, NYU, Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. He has given media and technology workshops at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, University of Oregon, NBOstorylab in Kenya, and Electric South’s AR/VR Lab in Cape Town and elsewhere. He is a 2019 Forbes 30-Under-30 honoree for his contributions to the media industry.

National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, the Washington Post, and other global media outlets have covered his work.

Introduction Module: Welcome to the introduction module of our course! 

This module provides a video introduction to the course, outlining the topics covered in the four modules. After watching the video, please explore the rest of the introductory materials, including the syllabus, information about optional tools, and recommended readings. 

This module will cover:
- An introduction to how the photogrammetry capture process works through two use cases 
- An introduction to how photogrammetry is used for augmented reality storytelling 
- An introduction to the mapping potential of drones and photogrammetry 


1. Welcome video

Watch Video   

2. Course syllabus



1. How Photogrammetry Works [Ken Merryman, Diver]

2. After Volcano Eruption in Guatemala, Re-creating a Truck Covered in Ash [Niko Koppel, New York Times]

3. The drone pilot whose maps are saving lives in Zanzibar [Katie Prescott & Sarah Treanor, BBC News Tanzania]

4. How video game rocks get made [Phil Edwards, Vox ]

Module 1: Introducing photogrammetry

The photogrammetry process dates back to 1849, and was originally used for map making. Today it’s still used for making maps, as well as many other types of two-dimensional and three-dimensional visuals. In this module we will explore how photogrammetry works, and see examples of how it is used in journalism and other industries.

This module will cover:
- The origins of photogrammetry
- A high level overview of the photogrammetry process from start to finish
- Inspiring journalistic use cases for photogrammetry
- Inspiring use cases of photogrammetry from other industries

 Video Classes

1. The Origins of photogrammetry

Watch Video   

2. Introductory photogrammetry use cases

Watch Video  

3. Q&A with guest speaker Chad Davis

Watch Video  

4. Q&A with guest speaker Uttam Pudasaini

Watch Video  


1. Basic Terms [Ben Kreimer]

2. Expedition Nebraska [Nebraska Public Media]

3. Using Drones to Make 3D Models on Deadline [Matt Waite and Ben Kreimer, American Journalism Review]

4. High-Resolution Aerial Mapping of Nepal’s Urban Centers Aids Urban Planning During COVID-19 [Nepal Flying Labs, WeRobotics]

 Optional Resources

1. Tenement Museum Virtual Tour Using Photogrammetry [Philip Kennicott, Lo Bénichou, Shikha Subramaniam and Kolin Pope, The Washington Post]

2. After Solitary [EMBLEMATIC]

3. Explore the IS Tunnels [The BBC]

4. This sculptor builds what's going on inside our heads [Joshua Barajas, The PBS NewsHour]

Module 2: Strategizing: When and how to tell stories with photogrammetry

Like any tool, photogrammetry is great at performing some tasks and bad at others. In this module we will focus on the storytelling strengths of photogrammetry, and how they can best serve you and your storytelling needs.

This module will cover:
- Photogrammetry for immersive media and two-dimensional media
- Using photogrammetry for environmental and spatial storytelling
- Using photogrammetry for structural and object-based photogrammetry

 Video Classes

1. Planning for Photogrammetry: Capture Subject Materials and Publication End Goals 

Watch Video  

2. Planning for Photogrammetry: Capturing Objects, Landscapes, Structures, and Interiors 

Watch Video 

3. Q&A with guest speaker India Johnson

Watch Video 

4. Q&A with guest speaker Alexey Furman

Watch Video


1.  Photogrammetry for Journalism: Documenting reality in 3D [Henry Keyser, Theodore Chryssos, Jessica Buchleitner, Northwestern University Knight Lab]

2. Aftermath VR: Euromaidan (2019)  [Alexey Furman]

3. Explore the haunting remains of an Antarctic whaling boomtown [Vicky Stein, PBS NewsHour]

4. Atlantic Editor Bennet on His Magazine’s ‘Salons [Greg Marx, Columbia Journalism Review]

 Optional Resources

1. ONA Journalism 360 Photogrammetry Capture Guide [Ben Kreimer, Journalism 360]

Module 3: Introduction to photogrammetry capture

There is no better way to learn a new tool than to use it yourself. In this module we will cover some of the practical do’s and don’ts of photogrammetry capture with hand-held cameras and drones, including guided exercises using the Polycam app. We will also explore LiDAR technologies, and look at sources that use pre-existing photogrammetry and LiDAR data.

This module will cover:
- Planning and executing a handheld camera (or smartphone) photogrammetry shoot
- Planning and executing a drone-based photogrammetry shoot
- Open source datasets, crowd sourced data sets, and collaborative projects
- An introduction to LiDAR technologies and open source LiDAR datasets

 Video Classes

1. Introduction to Module 3 and Polycam 

Watch Video 

2. Polycam Photogrammetry Demonstration

Watch Video  

3. Performing Drone-Based Photogrammetry Captures and Crowdsourcing Photogrammetry Image Sets  

Watch Video  

4. Q&A with guest speaker Faine Greenwood  

Watch Video  

5. Q&A with guest speaker Khadija Abdulla Ali  

Watch Video  


1. Polycam [Ben Kreimer]

2. Photogrammetry Capture Tips [Ben Kreimer]

3. Crowdsourcing Culture for 3D: Modeling Through Social Media [Julia Peters]

4. Mapping Makoko Using Drones and Canoes [Anton Marshall, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team]

5. When 3D Technology Enters The Cultural Repatriation Debate [Min Chen, Jing Culture & Commerce]

 Optional Resources

1. An End-to-End Guide to Photogrammetry with Mobile Devices [Jonathan Cohrs, Mint Boonyapanachoti, Sukanya Aneja, Willa Köerner, Minkyoung Kim, The New York Times Research & Development]

2. How Notre Dame is being rebuilt from 50 billion scraps of data [Pauline Bock, Wired]

3. Unearthing the Truth [The Economist]

4. Chapter 4: How to Make Maps with Drones [Faine Greenwood, New America]

5. Resources [Ben Kreimer]

Module 4: Introduction to photogrammetry processing and publishing photogrammetric content

In this final module we will go through the processing stage of photogrammetry, and see how the photogrammetric content we’ve made can be quickly shared with audiences. We will also step back and consider how photogrammetry is a foundational process and tool within the broader context of emerging 3D technologies and platforms.

This module will cover:
- Photogrammetry processing tools
- Basic content delivery and distribution
- Looking to the future: volumetric video, the metaverse etc.

 Video Classes

1. Processing Photogrammetry Images in Full-Featured Software and Exporting Your 3D Model

Watch Video  

2. Future Applications of Photogrammetry: Volumetric Video and the Metaverse

Watch Video  

3. Q&A with guest speaker Mohammed Maisha

Watch Video  


1. AR Journalism: Homeless Realities AR experiences [Robert Hernandez, JOVRNALISM]

2. Will the Metaverse save journalism? [Thomas Seymat]

3. What is the Metaverse, Exactly? [Eric Ravenscraft, Wired]

4. Shoe Monolith [Ben Kreimer]

5. Module 4 Key Terms [Ben Kreimer]

6. Photogrammetry software programs [Ben Kreimer]

 Optional Resources

1. Resources [Ben Kreimer]

2. RealityCapture How-To Guide for Photogrammetric Image Processing [Ben Kreimer]