As part of a new urban renewal project we obtained the previous master plan as a PDF (naturally). Reading through it we felt that we needed to understand what was proposed and how the proposals would look in 3D.
It’s a largish urban area and previously we would never even dream of modelling it at such an early stage of the project. Too much work to model in SketchUp and certainly not to just understand part of a report. Things have changed and now we are aware of what CityEngine can do we’re starting to modify how we approach jobs.
You wonder why I’m interested in CityEngine? Well I can see how it is changing our work and what it will change for us in the future. Less than a month into a project and we’ve modelled an entire urban area in less than 1/2 a day, just to understand something better.
Pre-CityEngine we would never have done this.
This is a fun quick tip, instead of assigning a specific colour to each floor and building when not use the built in colorRamp function. Search for it in the help file for detailed usage here’s how I’ve used it:
I’ve taken a centre point and coloured the rooftop of each building using the colorRamp function. Basically it checks to see how far it is from a chosen point (fixed in the rule file) and normalises it so the value is between 0 and 1 and then uses that value to pick a colour in the depending on your chosen colorRamp.
I know you’re probably all fed up of this by now…. You can view my presentation at the GeoDesign summit here, or at the ESRI video site (you can download it for offline viewing too!) or eventually on ESRI’s Youtube site
Okay this will be the last post I do specifically about the Geodesign summit, I promise! I will write about my ideas stemming from it though and believe me I had a lot of ideas for blog posts. I’m still writing stuff about CityEngine so those who come here looking for code can skip these posts if they like….
There are some concepts, thoughts and ideas that are still with me over a week later that came directly from the Summit. I figure if they’re still in my head I need to acknowledge them and write something.
I’ve divide this into separate blog posts for ease of reading, but they were written as one long one, you can thank me later.
- Better at telling stories
- Lazy is smart? (phew I must be very smart)
- A Bill of Rights for the planet?
- Conversations and short attentions spans
- A transactional database of the world
- Internet of things
- The emergence of true Geodesign
I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a Wacom Cintiq device. In our line of work hand drawing is important still and the amount of tracing (I mean digitizing) I do hasn’t decreased.
Prior to that I need to justify it to myself and my colleagues that a mouse and keyboard just isn’t going to cut it for much longer…
Here’s what you need:
- Wii remote (an old one will do without the sensor thingy)
- Smoothboard.net software + infrared pen, you can get a kit from here I would recommend a dual pen with button and pressure sensitive nib, that way you can use it on a hard and soft surface
- Wii battery cover with camera tripod fitting (you can make or buy one)
- Projector (we have an old one but I recommend something that’s bright short throw and high resolution)
- PC or laptop with Bluetooth!
Really the infrared pen is the difficult bit to get, you can make it yourself but I suggest you get it from people like this http://www.infraredpen.co.uk/index.php/ (not a product endorsement but that it is where I got my kit and it came pretty quick.
Basically it all worked for me. Follow the install instructions and it really is incredibly simple. One thing I would warn is that if you’re using the Wii remote at home you might find it wants to connect to the Wii rather than your laptop.
I’m using an old Wii remote, a Dell Vostro 3300 laptop (with windows 8 see here), getting the angle of the wii remote (it has an infrared camera in it) is crucial. Also it takes some getting used to drawing whilst keep your shadow out of the way.
Here is a picture of me, I’m not in a dark room, it’s the camera adjusting for the brightness of the projector.
Bottom line here: don’t discount cheap workarounds this setup works very well with ArcGIS, don’t make this stuff just buy it from someone who does. We’ll be taking this setup to a meeting with some people we’re working with in a couple of weeks. Instead of them drawing on a piece of paper and then digitizing it into the GIS we’re going to draw directly into the GIS.
Side note: this didn’t seem to work with CityEngine, It’ll try and figure it out and get back to you…
You might well have guessed from the numerous blog posts and tweets that I have got quite a bit out of the last week or so!
Professionally the GeoDesign summit was very successful I got into discussions with a lot of people. Some of those discussions will lead me into a new direction at work but that is another blog post.
I’d like to thank a few people at ESRI for the massive opportunity they have given me as well as support. The following is a run down of those I met and have had conversations with that I can remember easily for blogging, please don’t be offended if you are not here, there were so many I had to choose just a few to write about!
<Note to self start>
This is a brief post and it is a message to my future self, should I ever find myself with a set of MXD files that just will not let me edit them without ArcMap repeatedly crashing.
The background is this: for a particular mapping project we have a nice map layout with logos and text and a legend (that’s another story). Recently I started to encounter a very serious problem, I’d start editing, you know the sort, zoom in click click click zoom out, pan zoom in, click click click… But at regular but random in their occurrence intervals ArcMap would stop, the windows display/desktop would corrupt and multiple icons of ArcMap would appear on the taskbar and the whole PC’s screen would have difficulty refreshing. I would have to, more often than not, end the ArcMap process and loose all my edits. I had lost hours of work and spent lots of time trawling the help forums for a solution
I tried everything, I used MXD doctor to create new MXDs which seemed to stop the crashing temporarily, I even went an created a new user profile which actually worked for a small time. Finally I had had enough, I went through every element of the MXD and recreated it all, one of the logos was a PNG, for consistency I recreated it as a JPG as all the other images on the page layout were JPGs. I now don’t have any crashes, no restarts and no need to recreate an MXD. For whatever reason ArcGIS must not support fully PNGs images in my particular setup.
So if you ever have ArcMap crashing when editing, panning and zooming, I suggest you check to see if there is a PNG image somewhere on your page or data layout.
</Note to self end>