vol 9 num 1

from VizMAP – letting you see where you stand…

Volume 9 Number 1 


About VizMAP

VizMAP Pty Ltd, is a leading supplier of terrain Visualisation and related services to the defence, GIS, environmental, mapping, mining and exploration industries, engineering and construction firms, developers and planners, as well as government administration departments dealing with land, transportation and the environment.

VizMAP's products are designed to be run on reasonably to highly configured graphics computers (PC, Linux and Unix) for public display, group training, mission rehearsal, environmental monitoring, etc. and to enhance management decision making. 

VizMAP is headquartered on Queensland's Sunshine Coast (Australia) with affiliation in Asia, Europe, Africa and the USA and thereby provides support and services to customers worldwide. 

If you need to visualise anything geographic, e-mail VizMAP here with the details. 

For more information about VizMAP visit the VizMAP Web site at http://www.vizmap.com.au.


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A Moment's Notice

"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.

In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

— Cliff explaining the Buffalo Theory to Norm in Cheers

This is funny ;-)

VirtualGeography – the newsletter

G'Day… and Welcome to VirtualGeography
from VizMAP
Welcome to another non-denominational, co-ed, family friendly, mind-bogglingly interesting and totally free VirtualGeography from VizMAP Pty Ltd.

You are receiving this either because you subscribed to VirtualGeography or you have had recent dealings with VizMAP Pty Ltd. If you do not wish to receive further instalments of VirtualGeography, just click on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this e-mail.

Well it's been a busy first quarter for VizMAP with the setting up of a new facility down the road from the old one, TerraTools sales and training in New Zealand and the brand spanking new release from TerraSim of their new exporters for Steel Beasts and OpenSceneGraph just in time for SimTecT 2010 (in Brisbane this year!).

Riding on the back of their VBS2 export plug-in about this time last year and proving to be extraordinarily popular with existing customers and instrumental in bringing in a raft of new ones, the people in Pittsburgh haven't let their guard down and have fully embraced the concept of "serious games". More of that later.

This edition of VirtualGeography marks the first to be spat out of the FreeLists.org mail server. Hope it works!

If you didn't already know, VirtualGeography is a collection of interesting snippets from all over the shop, dealing with industry issues concerning the computer based visualisation of geography and a few other associated (or otherwise) interesting bits and pieces. 

A new VirtualGeography is pushed out every now and then when we've collated enough interesting bits and pieces, which shouldn't be too big a drain on your mailbox if you're not already subscribed (of course it won't be a drain on your mailbox if you ARE subscribed, either This is funny ;-)). The regularity of the distribution may vary depending on what else is going on at VizMAP at the time. If you know of anyone who might like to get VirtualGeography, feel free to forward this to them and ask them to subscribe. By the way, subscription and unsubscription details are at the bottom (click here).

So, g'day to all you enthusiasts requiring to visualise and/or simulate both urban and rural geographic information (GIS), cartography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, digital elevation modelling (DEM) and general mapping.

By the spelling of "Visualisation" you may have already guessed that we're not US based – that's a good thing, or at least not a bad thing. This comes to you from Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, where it's beautiful one day and perfect the next. As a postscript to that, you can have a look at the Maroochydore beach (otherwise known as the Pacific Ocean), now, 1,000m from where I sit as I write this, here.

The link between visualisation and surveying and mapping may seem a little esoteric if this is your first encounter with this sort of stuff, but let me tell you, the bond is significant… but enough of that: on with the show…

I hope you like it. Any feedback you might have is highly appreciated. E-mail me here to make your comments.


Graeme Brooke
VizMAP Pty Ltd

Graeme Brooke


P.S. You'll need an active internet connection to view any images that are in the content. We've done it this way to keep the size of the e-mail to a minimum.

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The Industry's
Two Cents Worth…

Two New TerraTools Exporters Now Available
from TerraSim

TerraSim, Inc. is pleased to announce that the TerraTools Exporter for OpenSceneGraph (OSG) and TerraTools Exporter for Steel Beasts Professional (from eSim games) are available. Release versions can now be downloaded for use by TerraSim customers with evaluation or pre-release licenses; interested TerraTools customers can request evaluation licenses for both new products. Both exporters are fully supported with complete product documentation.

These two new exporter plug-ins extend TerraTools' impressive range of capabilities to generate 3D terrain databases correlated for both visual simulation and semi-automated forces (SAF) applications of constructive simulation. In addition, they give TerraTools users the widest available choice of formats for serious gaming, mission rehearsal, and training.

As with all TerraTools-built databases, projects that are exported to OSG and Steel Beasts Pro are improved by TerraTools Core Urban Details™ processing. Roof clutter, free-standing walls, buildings with interiors, and power lines with wires can be automatically created.

The OSG exporter supports current and previous releases of the OSG baseline (2.4.2, 2.6.2, and 2.8.2) and has built-in support for database paging and texture compression. The Steel Beasts Pro exporter provides users with the ability to produce detailed geo-specific exercise terrain maps using high fidelity source data.

OpenSceneGraph and Steel Beasts Professional exports fully correlated with all other runtimes supported by TerraTools plug-ins. TerraTools supports serious gaming and visual formats with export to VBS2 and OpenFlight. Constructive simulation is supported with exporters for OneSAF OTF, JCATS, JointSAF CTDB for OTBSAF and JointSAF, GDB for MÄK VR-Forces, and more.

Read that full story here
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VizMAP: So – that begs the question, "What is Steel Beasts?"
from Steel Beasts

Steel Beasts is a virtual simulation of contemporary armored and mechanized combat, focusing on small-unit tactics. It models individual weapon systems in detail yet is able to keep track of several company teams in a single scenario.

Steel Beasts places the user in the position of a crew member of a virtual fighting vehicle, such as a main battle tank, an infantry fighting vehicle, or a support / reconnaissance vehicle, within a mission. Missions (also called scenarios) can be played in solitaire mode against the computer, or in network mode against (and with) other users and computer controlled units over a local area network (LAN) or the Internet.

Missions are created on a contour map using context-sensitive menus and click and drag techniques. Once created, a mission can be played from the commander's, gunner's, or driver's position (or from an observer's position) looking out into the virtual 3D battlefield, in combination with a contour map. Individual missions can vary widely in complexity, from simple, in which the user might be just the gunner in a single tank, to large and complex, in which the user might assume command over a company or more of a mechanized task force. It all depends on what the mission designer has created.

Steel Beasts features a variety of armored and unarmored vehicles, as well as infantry. The technical strengths and limitations of fighting vehicles from different nations are accurately modeled to allow the user to learn how an opponent might employ his weapons and to respond appropriately.

Read that full story here
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VizMAP: "…and OpenSceneGraph?"
from OSG

The OpenSceneGraph is an open source high performance 3D graphics toolkit, used by application developers in fields such as visual simulation, games, virtual reality, scientific visualization and modelling.

Written entirely in Standard C++ and OpenGL it runs on all Windows platforms, OSX, GNU/Linux, IRIX, Solaris, HP-Ux, AIX and FreeBSD operating systems.

The OpenSceneGraph is now well established as the world leading scene graph technology, used widely in the vis-sim, space, scientific, oil-gas, games and virtual reality industries.

Read that full story here
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Hardcore Stuff
(hardware bits)…

2010 Masters Tournament in 3D – Are You 3D Vision Ready? 
from nVidia

Look out golf-lovers, the 2010 Masters Tournament coverage starts on Wednesday, April 7. With the help of Sony, IBM (the Tournament's technology partner), and Comcast, the Tournament will be streaming in 3D live from Augusta National Golf Club at www.masters.com/3D .

This marks the first time in history that a live sporting event will be streamed over the internet in 3D, and is surely an event not to be missed!

If you’re an NVIDIA 3D Vision owner, you’ll be able to catch all the 3D action—check out the schedule below for timing.

Make sure your PC is up to date with all of the latest drivers and 3D Vision Video Player that supports video streaming. Check here for a quick guide on how to fire up the player, and then you’re ready to swing away!

Read that full story here
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Softcore Stuff
(software & data bits)…

Virtual Brisbane
from Position

The world of 3D visualisation is rapidly maturing, at least in applications designed for city planning.

This is not so much about the model itself. Practical 3D modelling capability has been around for the best part of two decades. Rather, it’s about the interfaces that now exist between GIS and visualisation, and the ease with which the data can be gathered.

Some of these features of the new world of 3D imagery were on view recently with the release of Virtual Brisbane, a new model created by town planners at Brisbane City Council. It includes every building and structure within a five kilometre radius of the city centre, around 80 square kilometres.

The model is a 3D planning tool that can be integrated with GIS datasets. It is capable of real time viewing, rendering and analysis. It will be a powerful tool when council needs to engage with the community about future developments in the city.

The model depends heavily on Pictometry oblique imagery; visualisation software is supplied by K2Vi in Auckland. The council purchased both products from AAMHatch. The same technology has been used to create models of the urban cores of Hobart and Melbourne.

Virtual Brisbane is the next generation planning tool for the digital age. It replaces an old cardboard model which was only ever wheeled out for major planning meetings.

The new model will be updated on a regular basis. The camera system is a small-mass unit which fits easily into light aircraft and is relatively cheap to operate. It will deliver snapshots in time, enabling progressive updates that will provide council with an authoritative record of development activity across the city.

The most exciting thing about these models is their potential to re-invigorate planning processes. Council planners, developers and politicians will be able to engage them interactively. An architect will be able to access a 3D model of a proposed building to visualise how it will look in the real environment. Land-use and zoning classification areas can be dynamically displayed, with a transparent overlay of the proposed future building envelopes.

Read that full story here
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A Recent

Desert Village Revisited for Steel Beasts
from VizMAP
Given the new exporters from TerraSim, I simply had to get Steel Beasts, build something in TerraTools, export it into Steel Beasts, and then blow it up!

Luckily, TerraSim has made an entire Tech Note, including data, on how to create and then export their "Desert Village" into Steel Beasts. This is available to existing TerraTools customers – all you have to do is organise an evaluation license for it from VizMAP if you are in Australia or New Zealand, or TerraSim if you are not, and are therefore probably unhappy that you aren't.

Click on these small resampled images to view the full screen images from the VizMAP website. Bear in mind that these are just screen dumps from a dynamic, interactive, 3D "flythrough".

If you would like more information on this project, or need your own similar project performed, let VizMAP know

If you have a need to dynamically visualise your geographic data, let VizMAP know your requirements…
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That's Different…

Ordnance Survey offers free data access from BBC

Mapping agency Ordnance Survey (OS) has launched a service offering free and unrestricted access to most of its map data.

After months of public consultation, OS OpenData was launched on 1 April by Communities Secretary John Denham.

He said he hoped it would attract "a new wave of entrepreneurs" to reuse the data in innovative ways.

However Ramblers, the walkers group, has expressed disappointment that OS' paper maps have not been included.

"We are very disappointed that the walkers maps have been left out of it," said a spokesperson from the group.

The group had lobbied for the inclusion of the paper map ranges – called Explorer and Landranger – during the consultation, he added.

The maps retail for up to £15 in shops and walkers describe them as essential guides.

Guardian newspaper journalist and campaigner for free data Charles Arthur agreed that the omission made OS OpenData "not quite all we hoped for" but said that overall he was very impressed with the initiative.

"It's going to be the acid test of how making a product free can expand the market and generate new commercial services. We view it as a big win for the Free Our Data campaign," he told BBC News.

Read that full story here
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Whazzup Next –
with 20/20 Foresight…

Check these sites for events to look out for in the Vis/Sim, GIS, LIS, Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry calendars…
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A Parting
Smile... it's free.

Global Terrorist Security Alerts
From Grime

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588 when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide". The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the French who are on a heightened level of alert: Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose".

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile and as usual are carrying out pre-emptive strikes on all of their allies 'just in case'.

Canada doesn't have any alert levels.

And in the southern hemisphere …

New Zealand has also raised its security levels – from "baaa" to "BAAAA". Due to continuing defense cutbacks (the airforce being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath), New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is "I hope Australia will come and rescue us".

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, mate". Three more escalation levels remain:
"Crikey!', "I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend" and "The barbie is cancelled".

So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Smile... it's free.
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Letting you see where you stand…

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…that's all, folks. For now…