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Nov 15 2011

3D Geospatial For Real—not a simulation and Kitely, on-demand Opensim

Thanks to the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, their time-lapse photography at very high ISO that helps to share some of what their eyes may well see, and of course Michael Koenig for his care and smoothing of the HD video, with some loungy score, too.
Take five (minutes) and watch it on HD in a darkened room. You might find yourself pausing, reviewing, and spending 20 minutes enjoying.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

I was fascinated by an orange wiggle, that turned out to be the astoundingly well-lit India-Pakistan border, around 1000 km long.

Meanwhile, I’m forming some plans for next semester’s course, and have realized that it may well be possible to offer students training in multi-user virtual environments without hacking one of the lab workstations to image it as an Opensim server. Thanks to the incessant business analytics of Maria Korolov over the past few years, it was possible for me to quickly get caught up in the new and improved options for cloud hosting of Opensim regions.

Right away it became clear that the business model of Kitely was quite compatible with my modest but area-expansive needs for real-life terrain simulations.  I’ve found it quite easy to get set up with a single region, and that’s a really big start.  I was able to use the latest beta Second Life 3.2 viewer to connect to the latest Opensim 0.7.2 stable release, tweak terrain and set up a few flexi-prims to test the weather.  Nice work technically, and a very nice pricing scheme for my sort of use.  I’m also very sympathetic to Ilan Tochner’s philosophy of “just keep building new regions”—it’s a consistent theme with cloud solutions, and refreshing to see it in connection with Opensim.

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Feb 04 2010

A visit to ScienceSim Geography regions – OpenSim with turbo boost

I don’t have much to say about these regions that hasn’t been written already, and my views have been less aesthetic than Shenlei’s.
But in the interest of boosting the bandwidth by which I can share OpenSim, I’ve invested in a much newer Adobe Premiere Elements than I’d been using for the past five or so years. It’s a gas to have it multi-thread while rendering, and I have direct-to-FLV write. Trying to share as much of the motion and fidelity via YouTube as I possibly can, I’ve crafted a video resolution that is a multiple of my Hippo / SL viewer screen. The FRAPS video direct to AVI (sorry, it’s Win XP) is 1600 x 1140 @ 10 fps. Yup, those are video frames. In the interest of surviving an upload, I’ve rendered them highly time-compressed, with output at 1515 x 1080 @ 15 fps. As of tonight there’s no sound, no intertitles, just the rushes.
oops, if I read the YouTube Instructions for best formats, I should have trimmed the width to 1440, which is a multiple of 16.
Also, I have more direct upload options now with Premiere 8 than I had with my (recently demised) copy Premiere 1.0. Go Figure ;^)

While the Windows box grinds out the video print, I’m over here on Ubuntu blogging in a tab of 64-bit Chrome and it is fine & fast.

For these videos, I visited ScienceSim Geography22_44 region and set the view to wide angle, then sat up at about 500 meters and watched the regions rez their terrain. For some folks, it will rank right up there with watching lead-based paint dry. For geography folks I’m hoping that these few minutes of sped-up video will convey, by dogged repetition, the primacy of regions in the provision of virtual environment simulators.

By the way, I’ve got a task: I need to find a better buzz word for the GIS community. I’ve been advised by some serious and well-intentioned (not to mention well-informed) folk that terms like “virtual” and “immersive” are actually boring to GIS’ers. So I’ll need to think about how to convey the concepts of “Mirror World”, “Multiuser Virtual Environment”, “Immersive Connected Experience”, “Third-Person Virtual World”, and related concepts into a catchy moniker. Hopefully, one that is not presently trademarked, either!

I’m trying to remain serious about this, but some of the options are treacherous. Geography in Social Media has a possibly awkward acronym; maybe it can be saved in recognizable form as “GIS for Social Media” or “Geography for Social Media”: GFSM
The term “3D Map with Me” is terse, slightly ambiguous

Here is the video chopped as it was when uploaded with 1515 x 1080 resolution. Problem with that is that by not preserving dimensions at a multiple of 16, and saving my viewer’s aspect ratio rather than the (standard since 16mm film) 4:3 aspect, my upload is clobbered into something perhaps suitable for a smartphone. So please consider this the Smartphone Version of last night’s rushes:

Then, once again with feeling, or at least with a little more rest, there is what I hope to be an HD-friendly moving vision of OpenSim, as it appears on the ScienceSim Geography regions. Yes! After it ripened on the YouTube servers for a few hours, I now see all the higher-res versions available. At 1440 x 1080, this is pretty close to what I see on my screen with a live Hippo viewer.

And after a day’s cogitation: anyone care to comment on the term: “Social Immersive Media GIS” as a moniker? Oops — I used “immersive” 8^(

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