Week One Newsletter

Week One (01/20/2012)

Week one. A week of exploration, brainstorming, cooperation and overall excitement. Our small four person team compiled of students who are beginning their first semester on a fifteen week, client based project. Despite the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday we hit the ground running, meeting with our advisers, MK Haley and John Dessler, and our client Mr. Dave Bear from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry based on Carnegie Mellon’s main campus. My teammates, Cintia Higashi, Sun-Moon Hwang and Siddhesh Vichare named myself, Sean McChesney, as the team’s producer for our inaugural project based semester.

After speaking with our client we were confronted with the task of developing a web-based virtual tour that has a large focus on interactivity for the guests. This tour will be of a proposed construction project coined High Point Pittsburgh set to be placed on top of the UPMC building in downtown Pittsburgh. This venue will fill 65,000 square feet of dining, meeting, wedding, retail and observation spaces and serve as a major tourist attraction for Pittsburgh’s many sporting, entertainment and educational opportunities.

Mr. Bear stressed the usage of high quality Gigapan Images to showcase the incomparable views from the multiple observation posts and the 360-degree glass walled enclosure. Another requirement of Mr. Bear’s is to link the virtual tour to social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to spread the word of this unique establishment. The overarching theme our client wanted to make sure we included was the ability for guest interaction while taking the tour. This detail will separate our virtual tour from others available that merely act as a fly through tour rendering the guest a viewer as opposed to an integral component in creating a unique experience each and every visit.

In our Monday meeting the team was given three hundred gigabytes of files relating to architectural, design and feasibility studies conducted on the project and we spent the first two days sorting through the materials we were given. The biggest asset we were handed was a working Rhino file which Sun-Moon was able to transfer into Maya for a complete 3D render. From first glance we saw a few aspects of these working files that would need to be fixed and cleaned up prior to use on the web. For example the elevators were without doors, benches were floating in the middle of rooms and the model has no apparent textures to give the building the photorealistic qualities our client requested.

During our second meeting with the client we straightened out some points of confusion and are foreseeing the accompaniment of an architecture student and an architectural artist to help finalize the interior design of the building. The client informed us of numerous environmentally friendly aspects of the building that were not specified in the design documents. We demonstrated the ability to pull certain information from a guest’s Twitter or Facebook account once they have logged in. This information we will implement throughout the tour to ensure a unique experience for everyone who visits the site.

As we move forward into week two we are going to research smooth implementations of the massive Gigapan images into the tour, dive deeper into cleaning up the high polygon models we were given and collaborate with the architects to finalize an interior design plan.