3D Campus-a cunning plan

In the process of working together with Rich to build the 3D campus on Google Earth, I had a cunning plan. It was a plan so cunning that you could call it a fox that has just been made professor of cunning at Exeter University! We need photos to be able to add textures to our 3D buildings and we have had some great, and some amusing submissions. Unfortunately it can take some time to process the images when back at the ranch to make them suitable for use with Google Sketchup.

Sketchup is a fantastic piece of free 3D software designed to be used with Google Earth to make 3D models of buildings. You can however use sketchup for many other things, such as detailed floor plans, it is available for both PC and Mac. While taking photos to use on our Northcote House model I hit upon the idea of being able to process the images directly with the camera I was using on my iPhone. I discovered a fantastic application called AutoStich which can automatically stitch 2D panoramas suitable for using as textures in sketchup.

Suddenly, I was able to do in seconds what had previously taken hours to do. Certainly money well spent as the app only costs £1.19 producing some quite stunning results (cooliris slideshow). I was also able to check my results while taking images, instead of going back to the ranch and discovering a problem later.

So here are a few examples to show you all what I’ve been up to, including a picture of the finished model. If you click this picture you will be taken to the Google 3D warehouse so that you can view it on the web and in Google Earth, together with the other buildings that have been accepted into the Google Earth 3D layer, for people around the world that are making use of the GeoWeb to search for location based information.


A 2D stitchup produced on the iPhone


Actual texture used on the 3D model

Detailed model of Northcote House

Expect to see both Richard and I taking photos of buildings as we help to build the virtual university. We hope to link all the possibilities afforded by the GeoWeb together so that we have a premier example of location based information searches at Exeter for an incredibly diverse range of uses with cross platform mobile support.

I have been using the following software, Google Earth (3D GeoWeb visualisation software), Google Sketchup (3D building design), GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), Dropbox (cloud data synchronisation) – All these applications are free and cross platform allowing me to work on any computer, any-time, anywhere. I also purchased a copy of AutoStitch for the iPhone.

The future is bright, the future is cunning!

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