Modeling Sutrito Tower

Google Earth has a representation of Sutrito Tower contributed by user “kirschbaum” here.

Whoa, trees! When did GE add those? They really help sell the scene.  Without them…

Something's not quite right here.

I don’t want to be mean to someone who’s giving away his creation for free to the rest of us… but this really won’t do. The trees can help hide the misalignment at the bottom — which is really the Google elevation model’s fault, not the model maker’s.

Trees help sell the scene.

But the tower itself still kind of looks like a bunker.

It’s possible to create models in Google Earth using photo textures with an “alpha channel,” so you can see through parts of the building.  That’s exactly what we want here, so I went out to take a few pictures on this beautiful blue-sky weekend. The blue made it easy to “chroma-key” out the background. I only had a good angle on the southwest-facing side of the tower, so I cloned that onto the other sides. I think this exaggerates the number of antennas, but I’m okay with that. Voila:

Oh , that’s much better. I’ve submitted this to GE, but you can download it now. Let’s see it against the scene up top.

Aw yeah!

Hey, I can see my house from here:

Now zoom in

…and enhance:

And download if you want to.

It seems like you always have to fudge something to get alignment with the terrain model in GE. The virtual terrain here falls away much more steeply on the right than it does in reality, hence the odd stilt-like configuration. The Street View photo texture helps hide it if you don’t look too close.

This view may look familiar:

Hmm… actually, that’s too many antennas on the east side. I’ll have to fix that later. I could also probably use lower resolution photo textures. I just noticed that the Sutrito model is 4 MB! Almost all of that is texture; the geometry is dead simple.

While I’m recreating time-lapse videos in Google Earth, I noticed a missing spire here, and had to do something about it:

That’s the steeple of All Hallows Church in the Bayview. As with all of these models, I started building it in Building Maker, imported it into SketchUp, and then threw away the original model, keeping only the aligned-photo “scenes.” SketchUp can use those photos/scenes, and gives you much more control about how to apply the photos as textures, and to which surfaces.

I’m definitely still learning, and would welcome any suggestions or questions in the comments.

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