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Submitted by Timothy Faulkner, posted on August 08, 2001

Image Description, by Timothy Faulkner

Hi everyone,

I run a 3D Visualization portal site at and have gotten a few e-mails asking what I am doing in Urban Visualization.

I am currently working with the RealSite modeling group in producing a real-time visualization tool for the urban models/terrain that they generate. RealSite allows us to semi-autonomously generate large-scale geospatially accurate urban models, and makes use of either aerial or satellite photography for modeling and texturing. We also have the ability to apply hand-held photography to the extracted buildings for even higher resolution textures.

These models can be saved in a variety of formats, and imported into production tools such as 3D Studio Max, and VRML viewers.

A few partial screen shots from the viewer can be seen above. The upper center picture shows the extent of the models that we can create. This is an overview of downtown Atlanta with a textured terrain. The bottom right shot is a close up view of some of the architecture we can extract. This is an example from the city of Salt Lake, Utah, and shows a spired building in the foreground. The bottom left shot is a capture of a fully textured Atlanta model. The textures in this case came from aerial photography.

The InReality viewer provides the user an intuitive interface to navigate within the environment, and create animated flythrough. The user is also able to perform tasks such as mensuration, and line of sight analysis.

For larger pictures of these sites, along with more detailed models visit the following links. I'll be putting up information about this project along with the other ones I have worked on at my web-site in the next few weeks after I get back from SIGGRAPH.

RealSite/InReality Information:

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    August 08, 2001, 04:28 PM

    nice pics
    you should scrap that app and go for a game
    i'd like to see a big ass godzilla crush that city ;)


    August 08, 2001, 05:15 PM

    Nice post style :)


    August 08, 2001, 05:24 PM

    Hm... It looks kind of neat... It's probably one of those programs I would download, play with for a several hours, think is enourmously impressive, but probably never run again...

    But it looks nice though...


    August 08, 2001, 05:25 PM

    "geospatially" I love that word.

    Yeah, I agree. Trash that app and put your knowledge to some use by making a game out of it!!



    *SMASH!* *CRASH!*



    August 08, 2001, 05:35 PM

    Cool, I've been pondering the idea of making my hometown (population about 80.000) in 3D... think it would make an interesting scenery for my 3D engine. I know it's a bit of an undertaking, probaly way to big but I got time. How do you get information about the height of the terrain? Or is it all "just" buildings on a flat board? Either way, looking cool.


    August 08, 2001, 05:35 PM

    Nice.. there seems to be something seriously wrong with the shadows on the right hand side of the image in though. Speaking of shadows, did you have to strip out shadows from the air photos, or did you align them with the rendered shadows, or how did that work?



    August 08, 2001, 05:50 PM

    Nice pics! The only complaint I have right now is that part of the lower south-east tower of the Salt Lake Temple is clipped and some of the surrounding buildings are missing from the lower right image.
    You use texture mapping on the bottom left image can you do the same for the buildings for images like the top one? That would provide one sweet layout.
    At least your work is progressing, I fill like I am stuck in reverse right now.


    August 08, 2001, 06:00 PM

    Not only that, but the Borders across the street from the temple is NOT TEXTURED. I mean, I can understand not texturing the temple, but Borders?? :)



    August 08, 2001, 06:00 PM

    Not only that, but the Borders across the street from the temple is NOT TEXTURED. I mean, I can understand not texturing the temple, but Borders?? :)



    August 08, 2001, 06:20 PM

    I'm wondering if you could get more details on your model. Having more details could allow for example Fireguards to do complete analysis of possibilities to fight a fire before even getting there.
    (It could save a life.)

    Its the same for police, contruction worker...

    think about the possibilities,


    August 08, 2001, 07:25 PM

    hehe thx man
    just had to be different ;)


    August 08, 2001, 08:58 PM

    yeah, I can just see that.

    "GUYS, WE HAVE A CODE RED" *siren* *camera cuts to the burning building with people jumping out of windows in order to avoid getting burned alive and a little kid is yelling MOMMY MOMMY while chunks of steel reinforced concrete crumble and fall through flights of stairs, instantly killing the last specimen of the endangered spotted owl, who somehow made its way into that particular building*

    "Um, ok, hangon, let me enter this into our brand new FireManager 2.0b... should only take half an hour..."



    August 08, 2001, 09:17 PM

    I don't mean to sound skeptical or be an ass, but what exactly is the point of this, I mean it would make a nice flight sim (we all know how terribly exciting the are ;), i guess. but as a standalone app, huh?


    August 08, 2001, 09:45 PM

    Um.. everything from landscaping to satellite communications installation to urban demographics?


    Ben Vinson

    August 09, 2001, 01:42 AM

    Yeah what do you want? People post 100s of "stand alone" landscape renderers.. What's the point? To learn, experience maybe... I think it looks kinda cool and agree that it should be made into King of the Monsters 2001 hehe.

    Richard Garand

    August 09, 2001, 02:09 AM

    it's not that hard, you just need to implant tracking devices in everyone at birth, and have advanced 3D cameras everywhere in the building to give real-time updates on obstructions. A trivial task, I am sure...


    August 09, 2001, 02:48 AM

    I think the point is that people's taste are different. I would personally love to walk around gigantic areas, perhaps just more detailed than this... What do you mean go outside?? =)

    Gruner Weg

    August 09, 2001, 03:58 AM

    This is very similar to the existing program "Canoma". What does your program have as advantages over that ?


    August 09, 2001, 05:09 AM

    golt, man, I think you're going insane. =]

    Wim Libaers

    August 09, 2001, 08:08 AM

    Much more practical: cruise missile targeting data! Hey, great idea: you sell the program to the US army for targeting data, and then you make a version for firefighters and sell that to Iraq! And then the game version comes...


    August 09, 2001, 08:08 AM

    I think it looks f*king great.

    Really realistic textures. Very neat.

    But you should *definately* make a game out of it, as others have said. It'd be a waste not to.

    Bemmu Sepponen

    August 09, 2001, 09:30 AM

    I've attempting to photograph the shops in my home town, Tampere.
    I'm not going to make a 3D model out of it, but just wanted to say
    that yes, it is an undertaking. I currently have photographs of
    200 shops and I'm making a user-commentable shop database out of them.
    Current efforts (in finnish) at

    And about the application we're supposed to be commenting on, it
    seems gorgeous. Great vehicle for snipers to carry out their
    assassination plans :).


    August 09, 2001, 10:53 AM

    Oh guys and gals here are some comments back at ya all ...

    Infurn & Buster : Gozilla Rules !

    Godzilla game oh man, I grew up on Godzilla, Ultraman, Mothra
    love that idea. :-) but making a game is the easy part making
    one that gets published is the hard part. I've actually gotten
    a game to market but got screwed by the publisher. More on that
    story sometime.

    Geekster : Terrain heights

    To get terrain information you need a digital data such
    as DTED. Check out VTP for
    information on terrain visualization. You can get DTED0
    which is about 1km post spacing. We use much higher levels
    of DTED but those are not available to the general public.

    Goltpoat : Shadows

    Any shadows in the imagery are left in, as long as you use
    imagery taken at the withing a small time frame the shadows
    will be consistent.

    Genu & Libaers : Detail of the model...

    We can get down to a lower resolution but of course that takes
    more effort. Things as small as 1m can be modeled. We have
    one model of Quebec city that was used at the last America's
    Summit that made use of 6 inch photography ... sweet !

    Imagine having a viewer in the truck, with realtime GPS updates
    showing the best route to get to the fires. :-)

    NEGA : to answer that question. Urban planning, learning a
    new city, anti-terrorism, communications, and of course big
    monster games just to name a few.

    Gruner Weg :

    Canoma is quick and dirty tool for making pretty looking models
    from photography. Thats it, good for creating a small set of
    buildings to put into 3D Studio Max.

    RealSite/InReality allows you to create large areas quickly, and
    be geospatially acurate. You can measure the distances between
    points in 3D. With additions scientific applications can be
    developed for wind patter analysis when a new building is
    designed, flood plain analysis, and many other ideas.

    See you all at this years SIGGRAPH ...



    August 09, 2001, 01:33 PM

    What? Insane? Don't make me assault you with my toothbrush. I will ASSAULT you with my TOOTHBRUSH. Sorry. Where's my medication. Toothbrush.



    August 12, 2001, 01:04 AM

    3 words for you:
    "Alien Invasion Simulator"


    August 13, 2001, 07:27 AM

    Dude, you can clearly see that another square picture has overwridden the lower right part of the screen, over the non-textured buildings.


    September 02, 2001, 05:23 PM

    looks nice at a distance

    get in close and its manked!!

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