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twistedpolitiks
02-05-2010, 03:56 PM
hi, i am currently working on a project that takes place in Malibu, CA. i have been trying to find something to make a realistic terrain for the area i am animating. so far ive tried using a grayscale map in Layout, then deforming the object to the map. this does the job for a quick and dirty terrain, but it isnt smooth, nor is it detailed. ive tried a third-party program called terragen 2, but i cant get the grayscale to make the terrain the same. so my question is whether or not there is a plugin that i could use my grayscale map on, or maybe geo-referencing? any help would be much appreciated.

Corey

SplineGod
02-05-2010, 07:24 PM
Terragen, Vue, and theres several DEM to obj converters. From there its getting the realistic textures etc. You might find some satellite photos/google earth images of the area to map onto the object.

bcicio
02-08-2010, 07:05 PM
I'm a novice, but here are the steps I use to bring a USGS DEM topographic surface into LW:

STEP 1
You need to create a free account at the GeoComm.com website so you can download any of the USGS DEMs. Once you create your account, click on the state you need on the U.S. map (http://data.geocomm.com/dem/demdownload.html), then the county, then choose "Digital Elevation Models (DEM) - 24K", and then find the DEM you need. In your case, you can find the Mailibu DEM here:

http://data.geocomm.com/catalog/US/61069/2389/group4-3.html

Click on the green download arrow, not the gold. The gold is a fee-based premium (faster) download - but the green takes less than a minute and it is free. You'll wind up with a .gz file which WinZip will unzip. Unzip it to a new folder on your pc. You'll see that there are a bunch of *.DDF files, but you will basically wind up only using one in the next step.

STEP 2
Download AccuTrans 3D from here:

http://www.micromouse.ca/downloads.html

It is a fully functional program but they request $20 if using beyond 30 days.

Install and run AccuTrans and choose "Open (All Known Formats)" and it will see only one of the .DDF files in your folder. Pick it to open. A 3D colorful surface will appear on your screen which you can spin by dragging.

STEP 3
File > Save As > "Lightwave 2 (Huge Objects)", and then just click on the green "OK". (I don't know what all the settings do - but you could screw around with them later.)

STEP 4
Open the newly created .LWO file in Modeler and you get this image.

Hope this helps those looking to import USGS DEM terrains. :thumbsup:

bcicio
02-09-2010, 04:50 AM
STEP 4
Open the newly created .LWO file in Modeler and you get this image.

Sorry. What I meant was you wind up with a model like you see in the image. You don't just get an image.

twistedpolitiks
02-09-2010, 11:28 AM
awesome. thank you for the detailed guide. this is exactly what i needed.

twistedpolitiks
02-09-2010, 01:08 PM
ok so i guess i spoke too soon.

the method bcicio explained is definitely the one i want. however, the DEM's from the website are not high enough resolution. does anybody know where i can get really high resolution, high enough to where roads will be calculated with the geometry? if you have to pay its fine, im just looking for a really high resolution DEM, or other type of "image" so i can convert it to a height map in lightwave.

bcicio
02-09-2010, 01:30 PM
Sorry, twistedpolitiks. Those from the USGS are the only ones I know of and are based on their 7.5 minute topographic quadrangle series. The level of detail you are looking for down to roadway geometry would probably rely on very localized surveys, if they exist at all, and not over a broad region. But I could be wrong.

MicroMouse
02-09-2010, 02:47 PM
The highest resolution DEMs available from the USGS have 10 meter spacing between the elevations.

Wayne

twistedpolitiks
02-09-2010, 06:54 PM
so is there another file format that would achieve similar results?

MicroMouse
02-09-2010, 11:12 PM
You can get the DEMs from http://seamless.usgs.gov/

For 10 meter sample distance you have to use National Dataset (NED) 1/3 arc second maps. Some parts of the US are available in NED 1/9 arc second which is a sample distance of 3 meters but there is very little at this resolution.

Scripting and cookies must be turned on and popup blocker turned off.

I was going to make some instructions for accessing that site but can't seem to download from there tonight. Might be some setting in my browsers preventing it and I will try again tomorrow.

Wayne

bcicio
02-10-2010, 02:54 PM
I've been able to access and download the NED data. But I haven't been able to figure out how to bring that file format into LW.

MicroMouse
02-10-2010, 10:48 PM
Allow popups and cookies in your browser

Go to http://seamless.usgs.gov/

Click on map of USA

After map appears on new page, go to right side of map.
Click on "download" and then click 'elevation'
Select 1/3" NED.

Use the tools on the left side and find Malibu, CA and zoom in.

Once you have zoomed in and found what you want, on the left side under "downlands" click on the rectangle and draw a rectangle of the wanted area on the map or use any of the other tools to select an area.

A new window in the browser will open.

Click "modify data request"

Scroll to "elevation"

Change to "National Elevation Dataset 1/3 arc second", if necessary.

Change "ArcGRID" to "BIL_16INT"

Click "save changes & return to summary"

Click "download" link and another window will open saying that your order is being processed. If after a while another window doesn't open so you can download your request, refresh / reload the window. I had to do this refresh with both IE8 and Firefox and never had to do this with older browsers and don't know what changed.

Your map will be stored in a zip file with a name similar to 20049707.zip

Inside you will find a file with the same name called 20049707.bil which is the data for the DEM. Extract this file and change the file extension from .bil to .bin

Open file output_parameters.txt and you will see listed the number of rows and columns in the DEM. "Resolution in x direction" and "Resolution in the y direction" is given as 0.00009.259 degrees and if you multiple this by 108000 meters per degree you get a spacing of 10 meters.

Open file 20049707.hdr in Wordpad. The number of rows and columns is given again as NROWS and NCOLS. BIL tells us that binary integers are stored in the file. NBITS states 16 bits per integer. SIGNEDINT indicates there could be both positive and negative integers in the file. The NODATA value of 32767 is used to indicate there is no elevation for that data point which could have been caused by a river being at that location.

Start AccuTrans. Use the "File -> Open DEM As -> Binary As DEM" menu command. Select the file to read and a dialog box will open.

Under "Byte Order" select the "Intel" radio button.
Under "Variable" select "Interger (2 bytes)
Under "Start At" select "NW Corner"
Enter the number of columns in "Columns" and click the "calculate rows" button.
Enter "10.0" in both the "X Spacing" and "Y Spacing" edit boxes.
Should you need the NoData value enter it in the appropriate edit box and check the check box.
Click "ok" and your DEM will appear in the view window.

Alternate: You could also download your DEM by selecting "GridFloat" instead of "BIL_16INT". In this case extract the file with the .flt file extension and change it to .bin. In the "Binary File to DEM" dialog box, under "Variable" select "Float" instead of "Integer (2 bytes)" Otherwise the procedure is as stated above.

Use the "File -> Save With Options" menu command to open a dialog box. Select under "Save file type" "LightWave 2 (huge objects)", leave output scale factor at 1. Click "Save", pick file name to save to and set parameters in the next dialog box that opens.

Wayne

bcicio
02-11-2010, 04:40 AM
Thanks, Wayne. I would have never figured that out.

hunter
02-11-2010, 12:22 PM
I'm a novice, but here are the steps I use to bring a USGS DEM topographic surface into LW:

STEP 1
You need to create a free account at the GeoComm.com website so you can download any of the USGS DEMs. Once you create your account, click on the state you need on the U.S. map (http://data.geocomm.com/dem/demdownload.html), then the county, then choose "Digital Elevation Models (DEM) - 24K", and then find the DEM you need. In your case, you can find the Mailibu DEM here:

http://data.geocomm.com/catalog/US/61069/2389/group4-3.html

Click on the green download arrow, not the gold. The gold is a fee-based premium (faster) download - but the green takes less than a minute and it is free. You'll wind up with a .gz file which WinZip will unzip. Unzip it to a new folder on your pc. You'll see that there are a bunch of *.DDF files, but you will basically wind up only using one in the next step.

STEP 2
Download AccuTrans 3D from here:

http://www.micromouse.ca/downloads.html

It is a fully functional program but they request $20 if using beyond 30 days.

Install and run AccuTrans and choose "Open (All Known Formats)" and it will see only one of the .DDF files in your folder. Pick it to open. A 3D colorful surface will appear on your screen which you can spin by dragging.

STEP 3
File > Save As > "Lightwave 2 (Huge Objects)", and then just click on the green "OK". (I don't know what all the settings do - but you could screw around with them later.)

STEP 4
Open the newly created .LWO file in Modeler and you get this image.

Hope this helps those looking to import USGS DEM terrains. :thumbsup:

Just in case you didn't know. If it's just one quad and you're not stitching together several. LW will load the SDTS files natively. Just select all files instead of images and you'll see the .DDF files available to you. You can then apply that to a sub-D plane and use it for displacement. You can then take advantage of LW displacement rendering features without the gigantic polycount in the interface.
And I've never come across anything with the level of detail with roads and such. You can see in this image I did of the Mammoth Lakes area in California (4 quads stitched together) if you go to high on sub-d render level you can see the 10 meter lines showing up. D'oh!
Here's a good tut if you need to stitch multiple sdts quads together as a grayscale map. You can also get the quads loaded in to google earth so it's easy to map the satellite imagery on to your model

http://www.creativecrash.com/tutorials/digital-elevation-model-dem-terrain-displacement#tabs