Public Art with Augmented Reality and Blender
Augmented reality artist/developer, Nathan Shafer, has plans to illustrate the history of Exit Glacier in Seward, Alaska via 3D modeling using popular open source modeling software, Blender. The finished result will allow young scientists, school children, and other visitors to use mobile devices equipped with Shafer’s app to view reconstructions of the 5 former termini that were present before the significant, visible shrinkage that illustrates the larger issue of glacial recession.
In Shafer’s words:
I make digital pieces and upload them into the real world. I am modeling in Blender, because it has proven to be the most dynamic and efficient 3D program for what I do. In AR the name of the game is efficiency. 5000 polygons is about the max for any model in a browser. I am building some models that are literally 3 miles long, so I have to condense. I am using geodata provided by Kenai Fjords National Park to generate NURBS that will approximate the height of the glacier, sort of give me a box to work in. The look of the glacier is being rendered using a mix of plug-ins and lightning effects, which oddly enough never look the way you want them to when they translate into an AR browser and get the real world all around them. The model is being skinned with actual photos of the glacier using the node-based compositor and textures, after that is done, we want a scanline rendering that runs an algorithm calculating the actual sun over the virtual model (hopefully in real time, which is very hard).
Shafer is using Kickstarter, the popular fundraising site to fund his project, and you can read more about it there.
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