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Weir Farm 3D oblique map

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#1
Tom Patterson

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The US National Park Service continues to publish 3D oblique (bird’s-eye view) maps of large-scale park sites. Here is our most recent example of Weir Farm National Historical Site, Connecticut, a small park that commemorates painting and the visual arts.

 

http://www.shadedrel...images/wefa.jpg

 

Alex Tait and Tim Montenyohl of International Mapping produced this piece for the NPS. They used Sketchup to model the buildings and Vue to render the landscape and natural environment. A lidar DEM underlies the scene.

 

The map depicts three distinct types of New England stone walls, rock outcrops, and specific species of garden plants. You can see photographs of people inserted into the scene. Like always, finishing the art involved a large amount of Photoshop retouching.

 

We produced the map for an orientation brochure and to pinpoint the location of landscape paintings on the site. It will also serve as a wall map at the visitor center.

 

For the full-resolution “getting into the weeds” version, go to:

 

http://www.shadedrel...EFA_cropped.jpg


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#2
Mike Boruta

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Impressive work! I tip my hat to Alex and Tim. Thanks for sharing this Tom.



#3
DaveB

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Wow, that looks like it took a lot of work! Great job, Alex and Tim!


Dave Barnes
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#4
Tom Patterson

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There is phenological inconsistency in this scene: the apple trees in full bloom represent early spring compared to the larger trees that are in full leaf. Now with summer weather frying the US east coast, I wish that turning back the calendar was as easy in reality as it is on a 3D map.


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#5
David Medeiros

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I had the chance to see a little of how Vue works recently here at the Spatial History Project and it looks impressive. NSD on steroids in some ways. As detailed as this scene is it seems that Vue can certainly go a lot further if needed.

 

That got me thinking about these kinds of 'realistic' scene renderings and how far will we go with them before it becomes simpler to take an oblique picture?  There must be a significant amount of work put into an image like this in terms of creating models, textures, retouching the DEM, setting the layout etc.  The result is very realistic but just abstracted enough to still be much easier to read then a photo, but it's approaching the point at which instead of adding realism we will need to start taking it away in order to maintain the benefit of a representation over reality.


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GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#6
amtait

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David, your question is a very good one, why not just use an oblique air photo? I think that you have provided the answer as well, "the scene is abstracted to be much easier to read than a photo."

 

I think it is very important in creating 3d map images like this NOT to try to emulate photorealism, and though there is a semblance of realism in this scene the departures from photographic and numeroud and very important. In creating views like this, we are very much abstracting reality and our treatment of vegetation in particular takes great liberties! Here is a short list of some of the many things we abstract or change from a realistic view of the scene:

 

- vegetation removal (we clear whole trees, sections of forest, etc.)

- tree modification (mostly trimming and making smaller to be able to see buildings)

- moving buildings for clearer view

- modifiying the DEM to emphasize rises or valleys

- varying the timing of bloom and leaf out for trees (as Tom pointed out we have varying spring time points in the scene)

 

Thanks for the compliments from others and I would definitely say that Vue is like NSD on steroids. It is a great program to work with once you get up to speed. It is a little harder to work with geo-referenced data but it has so many tools for creating landscapes. I have long promised to put together some Vue tutorials and after NACIS 2014 organizing is over, may actually get around to it...


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Alex Tait
VP, International Mapping, Ellicott City, MD, USA

#7
David Medeiros

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Thanks Alex,

 

I think you or Tom may have had a conversation with the creative directer at Spatial History about Vue a while back. He was showing me where (in this map or another just like it), the terrain raster was edited in PS to create the little berms along the road path edges. It's details like that that make this kind of work really outstanding in my opinion, and worth well more than an oblique image of the same area.

 

To be clear, I am in no way advocating replacing this kind of work with oblique images. I like this too much! Just musing about the trajectory we are on.

 

I wonder if this scene includes any modification to the DEM so that it's not all a single plane but a bent plane from foreground to background so that what's in the fore ground is slightly more planer and what's in the background slightly more oblique?

 

Edited to add: or I suppose the opposite could be done, bending the background up to reduce the visual compression towards the horizon from an oblique angle?


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#8
amtait

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Yes, I talked with Erik about Vue and recreating landscapes, one of the great uses it can be used for. The "ecosystems" in Vue are particularly useful for recreating past vegetation.

 

We often make modifcations in the DEM, including the curved plane. But for Weir Farm we didn't curve the plane, it sits atop a hill and falls away in most directions so naturally sets the center up from the surrounding area!


Alex Tait
VP, International Mapping, Ellicott City, MD, USA

#9
Tom Patterson

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David,

 

The PowerPoint presentation linked below shows a portion of the map developing in stages from a coarse mockup for determining the viewing parameters to the final art with labels.

 

http://www.shadedrel..._powerpoint.zip

 

With each stage the map becomes more refined and realistic in appearance. It is my opinion that basic 3D oblique views with blocky buildings and flat textures work perfectly fine for orientation and navigation purposes, and they are easier and cheaper to produce than highly rendered scenes like Weir Farm. I create highly rendered 3D art chiefly for maps that also serve as a brochure centerpiece. My hope is to inspire people to visit the site, allow them to understand the geographic setting and environment at a glance, and encourage exploration.

 

Just where to draw the line with realistic rendering, as you point out, is a good question. Another question is just how much detail to show. For example, the shrubs, flowers, and rocks in the final Weir Farm art represent only small fraction of what is actually there. The temptation to include every tiny detail, an obsessive quest, was unnecessary for depicting that place in a plausibly realistic manner. Instead, we attempted to give the final art an impressionistic quality.

 

Following up on what Alex said, the Weir Farm map is notable for what it purposely does not show. For instance, the continuous forest canopy in the upper left hides several private homes in that area. In the PowerPoint show, going from slide three to four, you will see that the employee parking lot (bottom middle of the scene) receives a covering of grass. It was distractingly prominent and visitors can't park there, so we decided to remove it.

 

Tom


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