There are a lot of questions focused on the details of every Diorama model we build. There are intricacies that make all of the difference in the world as to the quality of the finished product. Let's talk about 3 different projects and the details associated with the project. The 3 projects are in different stages of completion — a completed project, an in-process project, and a new project that just had a kick-off meeting with the customer.
December 7, 1941 is a day that we will always remember — the attack on Pearl Harbor. A joint project with the National Park Service, Autodesk, and WhiteClouds allowed the creation of a new experience for visitors to Pearl Harbor — an extremely accurate diorama model of exactly how the USS Arizona looks today, along with artifacts resting on the ship.
The wreckage of the USS Arizona still contains approximately 500,000 gallons of oil that are still slowly seeping out of the ship's submerged wreckage. Almost 80 years after its demise, the Arizona continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day. The National Park Service wanted to determine the condition of the hull with concerns for a massive rupture that would result in environmental damage. The USS Arizona is the grave site of the remaining 948 sailors who perished on December 7 — 229 bodies were recovered from the total 1,177 serving at the time.
A combination of laser scanning (capturing digital information about the shape of the ship by measuring distance between the scanner and ship), subsea LiDAR (light from a laser to trace the outline of the ship), SONAR (emitted sound pulses measuring their return after being reflected), and photogrammetry (creating 3D models from 2D photographs), and 3D Printing (creating a finished object adding material layer by layer) were used to build this exact diorama model. These technologies (image above) were used to assess the ship's condition without the sailors' remains being disturbed. With all of these digital technologies, it took over two years to produce the final digital model.
This 6' ship diorama had over 2 Million polygons that had to be painstakingly colorized from the black and white digital model and took months to complete. An iconic Coke bottle and cooking pot were also replicated (including barnacles) as they sat on the bow of the ship
This joint project allows visitors to experience the ship and its artifacts through 3D Printed diorama models.
Actual image of a cooking pot on the bow of the USS Arizona
Diorama model of the cooking pot
Actual image of a Coke bottle on the deck of the USS Arizona
Diorama model of the Coke bottle
Brigham Young University (BYU) is located in Provo, Utah, next to the Wasatch mountains. WhiteClouds was commissioned to build an architectural diorama (10'x12') showcasing the beauty and geography of the campus with a special emphasis on the huge variety of trees and their historical significance.
Using advanced technology, we pre-programmed multiple iPads to control the LEDs for each building. Matching cabinetry and glass walls finish off the aesthetics of the architectural diorama. To enrich its effectiveness, we used augmented reality on mobile devices to combine the digital and physical diorama features. Traditional model-making processes along with various 3d printing technologies were used to emphasize the realism of the stone-looking buildings. (The final diorama includes all 88 buildings). Roads, sidewalks, and parking lots were 3D printed with a sandstone-type finish. For statues needing extreme details, high-definition 3D Printers printed details as small as 16 microns (about 1/6 the size of a human hair). Design and fabrication of the architectural diorama took approximately 6 months. To see a complete overview of the BYU project, click here.
The initial phase of the project was to build a small section of the campus (two images below), highlighting pathways and landscaping around the Karl G. Maeser building. This was used to successfully attract donors for the funding of the project.
WhiteClouds was commissioned to create a museum diorama to demonstrate the lock systems on the Erie Canal. A lock is a method for raising and lowering water levels to allow ships to navigate waterways. The completed diorama features Hugh White’s Saw Mill and an old-fashioned homestead near lock 38 in Cohoes Falls, Albany County, NY as it may have looked in 1835. The simple way of life is depicted in the layout, the vegetation and even the mule and farmer towing the barge up the canal. The design of this project took approximately 30 hours and the fabrication was completed a short time later.
The present Erie Canal rises 566 feet from the Hudson River to Lake Erie through 35 locks. From tide-water level at Troy, the Erie Canal rises through a series of locks in the Mohawk Valley to an elevation of 420 feet above sea-level at the summit level at Rome. Continuing westward, it descends to an elevation of 363 feet above sea-level at the junction with the Oswego Canal, and finally rises to an elevation of 565.6 feet above sea-level at the Niagara River. The original "Clinton's Ditch" Erie Canal had 83 locks. The Enlarged Erie Canal, built between 1835 and 1862, saw this number reduced to 72 locks. Today, there are 35 numbered locks — although Lock No. 1 is usually called the Federal Lock -— plus the Federal Black Rock Lock.
Once a WhiteClouds project begins, the first order of business is a kickoff meeting to review all of the deliverables, to work through the project timelines, change order processes, and clarify communications methodology between WhiteClouds and the customer. Historical documents, images, articles, are all helpful in fabricating a diorama. WhiteClouds wants the customer to be ecstatic when they receive their museum diorama and any documentation that can be supplied early on in the process has a huge impact to the success of the project.
The finished museum diorama is 86" x 40" x 12" and was created in full-color. The diorama includes the Erie Canal, dikes, locks, water features, one man, a tow mule, saw mill, homestead and a barge. The diorama has full landscaping, topography, roads and trails around the canal reflective of the early 1800s.