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Building LA

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I have been asked to create a series of video projections for The Pied Pipers Musical Theatre Group’s upcoming production of Singin’ in the Rain. Since I won the NODA national poster competition I have been pretty busy. At the moment, everyone wants me to design backgrounds that are to be projected for 3 different shows.

Singing in the Rain is first- after getting some information from BAWDS I was able to work out a frame size.

First challenge:  The director wanted a fly-through  through 1920’s LA to the Graumans Chinese theatre.

Well it looks like SketchUp Make could solve this problem.  I could use it to generate terrain and place buildings accurately – or so I thought.

Thing is, right now, I don’t use windows at home. I have an ancient Mac mini, so I tried installing SketchUp Make on that.  Latest version installed, only to tell me when starting that the OS was the wrong version and so it wouldn’t run- thanks apple

Linux doesn’t have a version, so I tried to install SketchUp under WINE. this installed and ran (sort of) but there was no 3D view. So in desperation I contacted Mike who had a windows laptop and was able to extract chunks of landscape and the Hollywood sign and Chinese theatre to a number of .3ds files.

First up – let’s make the land.

Opening up a copy of 3ds max one lunchtime, I was able to import the landscape.  As part of that, mike had very acurately placed the hollywood sign for me. I also had 30 or so chunks of land

3D terrain Data for Hollywood

Terrain Data extracted from SketchUp

Opening Photoshop I loaded the textures into a large file and using the 3D view as a guide, arranged the textures together:

unfiltered landscape

Hollywood Textures

Then I went through each layer cropping the footer display to create a large texture that could be mapped onto all the planes at the same time.

LaLand

Texture when cleaned up

Back in max, I combined all the landscape planes together and then made another plane above the land with roughly the same density as the merge plane object. I then applied a Conform spacewarp to the object and suddenly my new plane was fitting snugly over the Holly wood hills

making LA_3

Combining the landscape planes

I now had a single surface with no co planar polygons. I made a snapshot this mesh and deleted the faces and vertices that hadn’t been affected by the conform operation.

making LA_4

Single surface generated from the terrain data

Slap the text ure on and VOILA!

making LA_5

Texturing the landscape

It’s not 100% but its a lot quicker than manually editing and welding thousands of verts and performing countless STL checks

a quick render:

making LA_6

Rendering the Hollywood hills

And I was ready to swap out the HOLLYWOOD sign for the earlier HOLLWOODLAND sign. I fudged it a bit but it still looks pretty good:

making LA_7

Hollywoodland sign

Next Up I will add the Chinese Theatre, and then populate the Rest of LA with generic buildings

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