3D Map Development - Case Study

Posted Sep 15th, 2014 in News

3D Map Development - Case Study

I've been working with Live Nation for the past few years creating unique maps for their various music festivals. Usually they all take place in Toronto at Ontario Place, but this past summer, I had the opportunity to create a map for the Squamish Music Festival in BC. I thought it might be cool to show the progress of a map, from concept/layout to final.

The Starting Point - I typically get a pdf of the festival plans or layout. Here is an example from the Squamish festival:

CAD map for Squamish

I spend some time learning more about the festival and study the web design for the site. In the case of the Squamish Music Festival, they sent me a brand kit which included logos, color selections and fonts. Super helpful stuff...

Squamish Festival Branding

Once I gather all this information, it's time to plan out the map camera angle. I will trace out a 2D shape that matches the CAD map, extrude it into a 3D object  and then play with camera angles. At this point I will send the client a few options of camera angles. This image is very rough and flat. I need to finalize a camera angle before moving on.

Step One: Camera angles

When the client has approved the camera angles, then it's onto fun stuff like creating roads, buildings, trees, landmarks and stages. This part feels like I'm creating my own little miniature world. Once everything is in place, I will send it over to the client to verify position of items, scale and readability. 

Creating the miniature world

Often there is a some back and forth on the second delivery. It's always helpful to get the map signed off as far as position and layout of items at this point because the next step is lighting and rendering. This can be time consuming since a render can take anywhere from 40 minutes to several hours depending on the level of detail. To cut back on the render times, I've applied my knowledge of render passes which I learned extensively in the video game industry. I keep things pretty simple and render out 3 passes.

Lighting Passes

The first pass is a simple daylight pass to get the direction of the sun and shadows. The second pass is an Ambient Occlusion pass which calculates and renders contact shadows of each object. This is a grey scale render which is then multiplied over the map. The third pass is a render of spotlights to highlight the stage lighting. This pass is totally black where there are no lights so I  can blend it with screen mode, making the black parts transparent. The stage lights are always rendered out separately; not only does it speed up the render process, but it also gives me a great deal of control on the final look of the stages.  If the client decides they want to change the color or intensity of the stage lights, it much easier to go back and render these lights on their own.

The lighting is a huge part of the final look of the map. Once it's all rendered, it's time to composite everything in Photoshop. With the lighting passes set up to blend together, I can go in and customize the look of each area.  If there is an area I want brighter or darker or a slightly different hue, I'll change this in Photoshop. Then, finally, it's time to bring everything together with overlay text and design. 

When everything has been signed off, the folks at Live Nation will use the map on the website and social media platforms. They'll also print it out super huge and place it at various points at the festival. There is nothing so satisfying as seeing your design and illustration at work, so I was thrilled when I received photos of the map in action.

3D map in action at Squamish Music Festival!

I'm so glad these guys are ecstatic about the map ;) We are too!

Join The Image Propeller Newsletter!

Get updates and latest trends in animation, video marketing and illustration straight to your inbox