One of the most essential parts of the Sandcastle workflow is the development of 3D assets, which we have begun by using the 3D modeling software Houdini. By inputting annotation data and chorographies into Houdini, the Sandcastle team has been able to convert 2D images into 3D objects which will serve as the basis for future downloadable toolkits.
Houdini is a procedural system that works by manipulating nodes in order to achieve a desired object. These nodes can also be annotated by attaching notes to describe their effect and purpose. Below is a Network created by the Sandcastle team to describe the main process we used within Houdini. For more information about how this was created, see the Houdini blog post about Assembling the Network.
Within Houdini, users can create and manipulate objects by interacting with various parameters assigned to the objects they work with. The procedural nature of Houdini allows users to alter parameters that impact nodes on a variety of levels, changing the object they are manipulating without having to go back to each node. This allows for quick alterations of an object's size, shape, position, and general composition. The Sandcastle team aims to import parameter-altering functions into the Unreal game engine to provide users with the tools to create their own 3D manipulations without having to recreate the entire Houdini process from scratch.
Most of the Sandcastle Team's current Houdini work has been done with data obtained from the Book of Fortresses, with plans to examine other chorographies in the future. Example parameter manipulations and how those impact the objects they apply to can be seen below.
Houdini allows users to edit parameters to alter values such as height, width, and orientation without having to recreate the object or edit previous nodes.
Camera parameters can be adjusted to fit 2D chorographies to 3D landscapes
2D objects projected by a camera can be manipulated onto a 3D landscape
Objects can be shifted within 3D space
Objects shifted within 3D space can be adjusted to a camera so they appear the same within the 2D chorography perspective while existing in different positions and scales within 3D space