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Month: July 2013

Less is more? Modelling an Historic Arab City Centre in 3D using CityEngine

Less is more? Modelling an Historic Arab City Centre in 3D using CityEngine

UPDATE: I’ve added more images at the bottom of the page…

So I can’t really share with you everything about a project but I can share some of the screenshots.  This is an urban renewal project we’re doing in Iraq.  One of the issues with 3D is how to visualise proposals for clarity.   My view is that “less is more”, try and make something photorealistic and people’s expectations of accuracy go through the roof, make the models more diagrammatic and you have the “it’s just a diagram” as an excuse for errors!


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Curb your cynicism – #esriuc 2013 San Diego

Curb your cynicism – #esriuc 2013 San Diego

Welcome back....
Welcome back….


Many of you will know that I’m at the ESRI UC in San Diego this week, hence the tweet and blogfest I’m having.    This is my first large conference of any sort not just a few hundred people more like 10-15000 people (and by that I mean geogeeks and proud of it).   Conferences for me are all about learning new techniques and connecting (or networking) with people.   It used to be you only got to meet them once have some conversations and then wait till the next conference to try and pick up where you left off.   Of course with twitter now many of the people I meet I already know (at least their online persona at any rate…) thanks to social media I have continuity I can still meet new people but my conversation with them no longer stops when I get on the plane back home…

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Now where was I going with this post….?  Ah yes you geo-people can be a cynical bunch, more often than not so I am as well.   Perhaps it’s a post-modern rejection of the optimistic 80s thing?  Who knows?!   The trouble is we’re in danger of truly damaging our ability to respond to challenges that present themselves.   If the attitude is always “I wonder why they’re doing that, what’s in for them?” rather than “That’s interesting, I’d like to help out.” what does it say about us?

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The ESRIUC – 2nd Annual 3D Mapping and Lidar Forum

The ESRIUC – 2nd Annual 3D Mapping and Lidar Forum

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San Diego Convention Center, in a word: big

Well if you monitor my twitter feeds I’m in San Diego attending the ESRIUC 2013.   More specifically I came to present my thing about CityEngine i.e. an update to my previous presentations on “the Instant City”.   Apologies to those who have already seen it/something similar from me!

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Senior Executives get very comfy chairs at their seminar #awesome

To be honest I was planning something more ‘interactive’ and more of a live demo, but in the end not only did I ‘bottle it’ I also run out of time to organise such an endeavour.    Nevermind I hope to up my game for the Geodesign Summit in Europe in September.   I think it went down well judging by the conversations I had with people (you can correct me if I’m wrong in the comments section below!).

So what did I do today?   Well, first I thought I’d attend the ‘Senior Executive Seminar’, not just to feel like a ‘senior executive’ although that appeals to me obviously.    I really wanted to hear Jack speak, but actually I was more interested in the Philadelphia story presented by Adel Ebeid.   As I’m interested in cities I was hoping for some insight and inspiration I could take back to some of our city master planning projects, I was not disappointed.   As usual the one I went for wasn’t the one that stood out for me, that honour goes to John Heltzel’s presentation a snappy and fast paced affair that dealt with real world management of responses to disasters.  To be honest a complete eye opener for me, refreshing in it’s real world practicality.

I then popped over to attend the 3D Mapping and Lidar Forum as really this is why I am here.   Lots of stuff on Lidar as one would expect I just wish I worked on projects that used and could afford it!

Three presentations stood out for me, probably because they were on my breakout session (and therefore in my understanding range).

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Proper workflows from Tal

Top of my list goes to Tal  Aisenberg from WATG, finally someone who is in my industry and ‘gets’ CityEngine.   I can’t tell you how often I have doubted my sanity when talking about how transformational CityEngine is for our industry and here is someone who gets it.   His presentation was far better than mine and refreshingly didn’t use Powerpoint.   I look forward to working with him and sharing rule files in the future,is this the start of a proper CityEngine UK user group? I hope so.

Kevin Devito from CyberCity3D as far as I can gather a small but highly innovative data provider who can make you 3D cities from their own propriety in-house software and some stereo imagery.   He and I will have words about what 3D data he can get me I’m sure.

David Burdock comes from E-on software gave a great a quick live demo of the new Lumen RT GeoDesign plugin for CityEngine.  I’ve been aware of the software but never fully appreciated quite how well it plugins and provides support to the CityEngine concept.  I also like the idea of minimal intervention and the ‘one button solution’  seems to sit well with me.

A big thank you to all those who I spoke to, I know there were people I didn’t get a chance to say hello, I’ll put it down to my jetlag….

A highly productive and interesting day though, I think I’m going to get a lot out of this ESRIUC…. now I’m off to bed as it’s all catching up on me….

For those who are interested here is my PDF version of my presentation.  Also if you’re interested in CityEngine and want to talk about real world uses (not just how ESRI thinks it should be used) then drop me a line or if you’re at the UC come say hi….