Many research papers, graduate thesis and other works have been done using 3D Nature's products. You can find information about some of them here.

Research in Photorealistic Landscape Visualisation

Gavin Donaldson-Selby

Dissertation for Master's Degree in Environment and Development

2006 Envirodesign

Apartheid housing policies of the pre-1994 South African government, and the low-cost high-density housing programmes of the post-1994 government, has given rise to numerous urban environmental problems, some of which could be addressed in a cost-effective and sustainable manner through urbangreening, while simultaneously promoting biodiversity. Public participation in the planning of urban greening has been identified as being of vital importance, without which urban greening projects run a high, and expensive, risk of failure. Previous studies indicate that the greening priorities of residents in low-cost high-density housing settlements may differ considerably from those of managers and experts tasked with the protection and extension of the natural environment resource base. A system of participatory decision support is therefore required to reconcile the greening requirements of the community, and the ecological benefits of biodiversity. If language, literacy, map literacy and numeracy difficulties are to be avoided, and a sense of place or belonging is to be invoked, such a participatory decision support system should, ideally, be visually based, and capable of generating realistic eye-level depictions of the urban landscape. New computer-based landscape visualisation applications, which can directly utilise GIS, CAD and DEM data to produce detailed photo-realistic viewsheds, were deemed better suited to the task of visualising urban greening than existing GIS based mapping systems, CAD and traditional landscape visualisation methods. This dissertation examines the process of constructing a 3D computer model of the Mount Royal low-cost high-density housing settlement, situated in the eThekwini Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Visualisations including terrain, natural features, indigenous vegetation, houses and roads were produced and submitted, with a questionnaire, to experts from different disciplines, Mount Royal residents and neighbors. Results from the expert survey indicate moderate support for visualisation in professional decision-making. However, both experts and residents expressed strong support for the accuracy and credibility of the visualisations, as well as for their potential in a participatory decision support system.

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Photorealistic Landscape Visualization: A Step Towards a Digital Earth

Ryan Dey

Ryan recently completed a research paper for his Master's Degree using VNS. This thesis outlines how he used VNS to realistically re-create real-world photos.

Copyright 2005 Ryan Dey.

A Digital Earth is a visualization tool that uses the latest technologies to embed vast quantities of geographic data into easily understood information. By creating three dimensional landscape visualizations that look as photorealistic as current technology allows, it becomes possible to see, explore, and spatially understand parts of the Earth as if we were actually there. This research describes a method that can be used to generate photorealistic computer-generated landscape images, and five such images were created which replicated real-world photographs as closely as possible. This research provides a basis for continued research into the development of a Digital Earth.

Scientific Visualisations - Hintereisferner &Kesselwandferner

Mag. Philipp Rastner

This paper was written as a Thesis study.

Mag. Philipp Rastner Phone: +39 (0)340 32 66 152 Address: Neurautweg 14, 39030 Gais, BZ, Italy.

The DVD for this Thesis shows 10 computer animations that illustrate the dramatic changes taking place at the Hintereisferner and Kesselwandferner glaciers due to the climatic changes of the last 100 years. These animations are a result of the diploma thesis of Philipp Rastner, which was submitted in 2006 at the Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck, Austria. All the animations were done with the programme Visual Nature Studio 2.5, undertaken in collaboration with the Geo Visualization Center of the Applied Remote Sensing Cluster of the German Space Agency (DLR) and the Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology of the University of Innsbruck.

GIS-Based Landscape Visualisation for Environmental Management

Katheryn Jennifer Appleton

Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

© This copy of the thesis has been supplied on condition that anyone who consults it is understood to recognise that its copyright rests with the author and that no quotation from the thesis, nor any information derived therefrom, may be published without the author’s prior, written consent.

Visual communication of landscape information is an important element of environmental decision-making, given both the drive to widen participation, and the growing range of issues where consultation may occur. Visualisation software has improved in recent years, and convincing landscape images can now be generated from Geographical Information Systems (GIS) databases and produced on a desktop computer. However, much previous research in the visualisation field has concentrated on specially-written software running on high-specification workstations, and is therefore less relevant to today’s real-world applications.

Four case studies were undertaken to examine the production and use of GIS-based visualisations. The first compared available software packages, considering strengths and weaknesses in the visualisation process as well as their output. The following chapter used an internet-based survey to gauge viewer perceptions of varying levels of detail in an attempt to determine whether there exists a ‘sufficient’ level for decision-making. The remaining two case studies examined the use of detailed, still-image visualisations in two real-world applications: a proposed cycle and pedestrian path on the fringe of Norwich, and a variety of possible changes around a small river valley in rural Norfolk.

The findings reinforced much of the existing research literature, confirming that GIS-based landscape visualisation is a useful tool for environmental decision-making. Advantages arise through increased accessibility of complex information, potential levels of detail, and enhanced defensibility. Survey results suggested that increased levels of detail do help viewers to relate a visualised landscape to the real world; however, there was no significant evidence of an overall ‘sufficient’ level of realism. A variety of concerns and observations were raised during the consultations with stakeholders, and other caveats were revealed relating to the GIS data used. The findings were used to derive a set of guidelines for visualisation producers, and also identified numerous avenues for further research.

For more information or for an electronic copy of the entire thesis contact Katy Appleton.

3D - Visualisierung von Landschaften mit WCS 6

Boris Stemmer

Graduate Thesis

Copyright Boris Stemmer

In 2003 a research Project on flood risk management was found by the Hessisches Ministerium für Umwelt, ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz (HMULV). Proposals on how to deal with floods in the future in the watershed of the rivers Fulda and Diemel were made. These proposals are scenarios without concrete events. Every scenario has different aims, for example saving expenses, highest environmental acceptation or lowest area consumption.

To make the proposals more physical, “example-areas” where selected for three different actions – digging a bayou, planting alluvial forest and building banks on the foreland - were planned. Unlike the scenarios these actions are very concrete events. One of these “example areas” is a part of the Fulda-valley situated between the towns Rotenburg a.d. Fulda and Melsungen, which the diploma deals with.

In Germany the use of 3D-Visualizations for landscape planning is still very unusual. For the diploma I used WCS6 to make realistic visualizations of the events mentioned before.

Questions were: For what purpose can the visualizations be used in the planning process (mostly in participative processes)? Is it worth while making visualizations with WCS 6 for public participation?

The results of the work are: It is a high effort to created Visualizations of areas as big as the ones in this project. Not for all kinds of participative processes it would be worth spending so much time, but for extensive public participation with large numbers of participants WCS6 visualizations are a powerful tool to get planning across to the public. Nevertheless using VNS would be a big ease while dealing with GIS-Data.

Mountain Shadow Profiles

Ev Wingert

Presented at the High Mountain Cartographers meeting in Val d`Nuria Spain.

Copyright Ev Wingert

Natural shadows whether viewed or captured in photographic images are a normal part of world scenes, mountainous or not. While they represent a major element of landscape perception, they can cause some interference in cartographic representations. In hill-shading work, especially in the high mountains, shadows are often subdued or omitted to allow data to be clearly drawn in normally shadowed areas. In Imfeld’s work on Mount Blanc shown at the left, he used light shadows on the glacier, cast from a northwest light source.

In Patterson’s work for the US National Park Service, he chose to omit the shadows normally cast by the high walls of the caldera at Crater Lake in Oregon. When a perspective view is chosen, the panoramists such as Berann and urban illustration firms such as Bollman Bildkarten Verlag make sparing use of shadows or omit them altogether for the information that they obliterate.

In stereo aerial photographic missions for mapping, flight times are chosen where possible to minimize the shadows that interfere with stereo-plotting, however in missions flown for interpretation, some degree of shadow is desirable to enhance the identification and interpretation of natural and cultural scene elements. While shadows can often represent limitations to the application of aerial photographs, on occasion they can be useful for several different applications.

This presentation is a report on two lines of experiments with the application of aerial photographic shadows for different types of measurement. The first is evaluating the accuracy of US Geological Survey Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and the second is an exploration of using shadows as a method of geo-referencing aerial photographs.

Visualization within the U.S. Forest Service and the Scenery Management System

Gary Huber

Project Case Study Paper

Copyright Gary Huber, 3D Nature

Computer-aided simulation of our public lands is beneficial to ensure that management activities and constructed facilities fit well into the natural environment. On the Bighorn National Forest in north central Wyoming, insect infestation in douglas fir has reached epidemic proportions in the scenic Shell Canyon drainage. Shell Canyon is one of three main transportation corridors crossing the Bighorn mountain range. Douglas fir bark beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) gained a toehold on the south side the canyon in the aftermath of a small forest fire at the lower (west) end of the canyon. Infestation has been advancing eastward up-canyon at a rate of over one mile per year. The western end of the affected zone is estimated to contain 80% infected trees as of 2005. The east end of the zone is currently 20% infected. It is estimated that mortality will exceed 80% overall without remedial action. The stand is almost exclusively douglas fir with minor components of lodgepole pine, englemann spruce and quaking aspen. The infected zone is bounded above and eastward by colder temperatures less favored by the beetle. Spruce predominates in the canyon bottom forming the northern boundary. The opposing north side of the canyon is naturally unforested providing dramatic views from the highway looking across and down the canyon.

For more information, please follow this link.

Human Psychological Response to Landscape Visual Filtering in Animation Design

Marco Ruocco

This Thesis was presented in Marco's work towards a Master of the Arts.

June 2004

Landscape is a valuable visual resource characterized by a specific degree of visual accessibility, which affects the exposure to the resource, human perception, and the outcomes of exploration. The motion along a trajectory allows the viewer to obtain a more specific view of the landscape, enhancing their information-seeking activity through a negotiation with the multiple visual aspects of the environment. As a conceptual tool, we consider this form of mediated exposure to landscape as a visual filter that selects only part of the landscape and temporarily hides the rest. This experimental study aims at verifying the hypothesis that the trajectory of the viewer on the landscape is a determinant factor in what perceptions and experiences are finally achieved. The objective is to show that the visual accessibility properties of landscape are not isotropic, but rather patterned in landscape- and trajectory-specific ways. The experiment consisted of the development of six computer graphics fly-by sequences of three different landscapes (an agricultural plain, a narrow valley, and a steep hill), chosen to represent different terrain types. Each landscape was animated at low altitude in a terrain-following mode, and at high altitude in uniform mode. In a between-subject design, two groups of participants were asked to evaluate and self-report their perceptions, aesthetical insights, spatial knowledge and sense of place impressions on the three landscape in the two altitude conditions. The results of the experiment suggest that the visual landscape is patterned in terms of how accessibility determines experience, since there are differences in specifically predicted classes of responses. For example, the effect of mountain sheltering is felt only at low altitude in a sheltered terrain, and not in any other condition. The landscape seems to offer a different "face'' (in the many dimensions that are considered) according to the trajectory of motion from which it is seen.

Marco says, "It is indicative for potential readers to know that the graphics served a specific experimental research purpose of giving the perception of simulated scenery, good enough to give an impression of realism. It was not research on realism in rendering by itself, like some other researchers might have done, but of realism "good enough" to support the rest of the work."

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Photorealistic 3D Visualization of Late and Post Glacial Landscape and Vegetation Development in the Southern Black Forest, Germany

Martin Pecher (ne Zeh)

Diploma thesis in Geography, University of Heidelberg (Germany)

Copyright Martin Pecher

The first part of the thesis describes the late and post glacial landscape and vegetation development in the Soutern Black Forest (Germany) based on research of existing data, papers and maps. The second part explains the methods and tools used to produce the visualizations. The third part contains the visualizations of 6 key periods, rendered from several camera perspectives (for easier comparison, identical camera parameters were used for each of the scenarios). Please note, paper is written in German.

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