Sub-surface 3D using Esri CityEngine

oilrig_demo

In case you didn’t know from our blog Esri CityEngine can handle many types of 3D, not just city data!  Here we are using the cool capabilities (additional layer control and bookmarks amongst other things) of CloudCities to control the geology layers.

OilRig DEMO from Elliot Hartley at Garsdale Design Limited on CloudCities.

Life Changer

Last Thursday evening at the CityEngine: Hollywood’s VFX Tool for Massive Cities event, I finally got to meet someone very important in my life.  How important? Well ‘life changing’ important, okay not like meeting my wife and kids, but to say this person is only a small part of my life story would be disingenuous.

Upon meeting this person I couldn’t help but rather embarrassingly tell them that I regarded them as someone who had significantly affected my life.  He looked embarrassed, he laughed awkwardly and generally I’m sure he thought I was quite mad.

So who was this ‘gentleman of significance’?  Well his name is Pascal Mueller and he is the creator of CityEngine.

I'm on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you're wondering)
I’m on the left, Pascal is on the right (in case you’re wondering)

Yup if you have read this blog more than once now you get it.  Before I came into contact with CityEngine I was drifting aimlessly through a career from Geographer to Planner never quite at home with it but content nonetheless.  Then on a project I was working on using SketchUp I became massively lazy, many will recognise this levelness of lazy as the kind that makes you trawl the Internet for many hours, possibly days looking for a work around to a work process you have just got very tired of doing.

  • I found CityEngine.
  • I downloaded CityEngine.
  • After a few minutes of using CityEngine and reading up about it I realised this was a game changer.  No, really.

The rest is history, I’ve made a business out of CityEngine services and met a whole new generation of people getting interested in 3D urban modelling.  It’s opened the door for me in the emerging academic field of Geodesign.  I’ve been asked to speak at conferences about our use of CityEngine.  People now specifically seek out our company for advice.  Genuinely it has changed my life, it is changing my life.

The lesson here is simple: don’t think for a moment your idea for a software product is worthless, it may just change someone’s life and they may just thank you for it.

Thank you Pascal.

GUEST POST : BRINGING SPATIAL DECISION MAKING TO THE MASSES (EsriUC 2015)

Quick note from GeoPlanIT’s Elliot Hartley: Ruskin Hartley (yes my brother) attended this years Esri User Conference in San Diego on behalf of Garsdale Design Limited, I asked if he could write a couple of guest blog posts for us, this is his first.

esriUC2015_ruskin

Geography is everywhere.  Of course, being a geographer I would say that. But for many people geography means a list of state capitals and perhaps the atlas published by the National Geographic.  I’ve just come back from the 2015 Esri user conference in San Diego and saw first hand that this is changing quickly. While much of the discussion was about new software and tools, the most exciting change is the way these tools are deployed.

Just as Google maps has transformed the way we navigate our world (when was the last time you used a paper map?!), spatial decision support tools are transforming the way we understand the world around us and how we make collective decisions. GIS – geographic information systems – is the tool enabling this transformation.

GIS is not a new technology. It’s at least 40 years old in its modern incarnation and I’ve been using it for about half this time. Having just spent a few days at the Esri user conference, it is clear that the power of GIS as a decision support tool is on the verge of being brought into the heart of the public domain. It’s exciting and has the potential to transform the way we live, work, and govern.

A number of trends are converging to make this possible.

  • Data is being collected in real time and near real-time. Our GPS enabled smart phones are at the front line of this data collection revolution. They are being rapidly joined by an army of drones, and matched up with unprecedented satellite images being updated on a daily basis.
  • Data is shared and available 24/7 on the cloud rather than being hoarded on hard drivesFrom the latest Landsat image, to a live twitter feed, to projections of sea-level rise, we all have access to curated and constantly updated datasets.  Served up through a geoportal, you can quickly find what you’re looking for and know that you’re accessing current data.
  • Powerful GIS analysis and publishing tools are available online. I no longer need a UNIX workstation,  thousands of dollars of software, and an expensive plotter to conduct and share an analysis.  Using ArcGIS online, or one of the other freely available online tools, I can quickly publish and share work.

Bring these three threads together and real-time analysis is available to anyone. In the classic production cycle, experts would take weeks to conduct a static analysis that was shared with the decision makers as a printed map. There was no way quick or easy way to interact with the results. Most of your time was spent preparing the data, rather than conducing the analysis. In the end, the decision maker had to accept what the map said – or risk another lengthy cycle to change things up. It was the classic top-down approach.

Now, I can throw the data up a on a web-site — pulling data feeds from many different places — and give the users simple ways to explore and visualize the data. They can dig in and draw their own conclusions. Or I can walk them through a story map to help them understand what is going on.

This will fundamentally remake the way decisions are made. The environmental review process for development and land use projects can become interactive. Companies can understand spatial trends in real time. In essence, decision making will become democratized as everyone has access to relevant data and analysis.

Does this mean GIS professionals will whither away? Far from it! Rather than just being the folks you go to to make a map, they’ll be at the core of how we collaborate and make shared decisions. Sounds like fun to me!

This will change everything. (FibreGarden to dig)

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Just a quick post to say something exciting happened whilst I was away at GISWORX last week, DigitalDales (trading/operating as FibreGarden) has started to dig in the ducting that will carry the community Fibre network.   This will be great for Garsdale Design as well as residents up Garsdale and Dentdale who will when completed have a word class fibre optic broadband network.   This will change everything around here.

To find out more read David’s blog, those in this area will probably have met David and you will see him driving up and down each dale trying to organise wayleaves and sort out network routes.  His blog posts are regular and a really good read, if you’re a rural fibre broadband supporter you must read it.

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GISWORX2015 Conference, Dubai

 

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Nicely produced conference material

Last week Garsdale Design (that is myself and Matthias) attended, exhibited as well as conducted a workshop at the Middle East’s premier annual Esri GIS conference called GISWORX held in Dubai.   This is hosted and run by GISTEC an Esri Distributor. Those who follow me know I’ve been before, in fact I was the guest speaker the first time around (The Power of Play).

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GISWORX2013 Guest Speaker…. Elliot

If you want to see Matthias in a suit click on to read more… 🙂

CityEngine and Bank Barns? Built Heritage meets Geodesign

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Variant versus True Bank Barns in CityEngine??

 Imagination is required to use CityEngine, I’ve said this before and I say it a lot in our 3DPathFinder CityEngine training sessions (shameless plug).   The power of the rule file is in it’s ability to be used in other contexts and is often only limited by your imagination.  Some of what I think Geodesign is also about this, connecting up other peoples workflows, joining disciplines together to form a coherent team.

Take the humble rule that places a parapet around a roof top and places a satellite dish inside, this is the same rule that I use to make my infamous “procedural sheep”.  Get your head around that and the world is yours (in a metaphorical sense).

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What do you mean you haven’t heard about my Procedural Sheep??!

 

This leads me to a little rule file I adapted yesterday, my colleague and friend Matthias had created a couple of rule files for a client (Philadelphia University’s Geodesign course).  One rule file coloured a surface depending on the steepness of a slope, which clearly when drawing a path or a road can be useful.  The other rule file was one that placed arrows facing down a slope in a grid pattern, think about water run-off and this is cool, useful stuff.  

Read more

Thoughts on my time with Garsdale Design so far

 
profile_Matt
 
Finally I take the time to write my first post on GeoPlanIT. It’s been too long, but too being busy for these kinds of things is usually a sign that ‘business is good’.
 
Read a bit more about my background here and follow me on Twitter: @MattB3D 
 
I wanted to share some thoughts and experiences about my time with Garsdale Design so far:

I must say the knowledge that Garsdale Design staff combines is very deep and very well balanced, evenly among Architecture, Heritage, Urban Planning, GIS, 3D Modeling and Visualization. Everybody has their own field of expertise, interests and great specialization. Having said that, it becomes clear that we are proud to be able to address an extreme range of different jobs. And this shows in the people that contact us from many sectors, from all around the globe. This feels wonderful.
 
The services we offer are unique. The consulting we provide is rooted in deep knowledge of theory, but also practice – which is essential.My own expertise is 3D graphics. I’m specialized in modeling, texturing and rendering detailed cityscapes. I hope I can further explore this field in future. As we will be growing as a company, I hope to get a hold in the visual effects and game industries, providing unique services to produce high-quality 3D city content.
 
A simple example of a visualization of data provided by our friends at CyberCity3D.

 
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In future blog entries, I will cover more technical topics and experiment with applications of procedural modeling that shall inspire everybody and show the capabilities of CityEngine and other tools I know.
 
I am looking forward to continue the great time I’ve had so far in the team!
 
Matt
 
 
ps..
If you have not had not seen mine and my friend Cyrill Oberhaensli’s ‘Favela’ project, have a look here: