Virtual Terrain Generation with MetaVR Terrain Tools for Esri ArcGIS
MetaVR™ Terrain Tools extension for Esri® ArcGIS® for Desktop leverages the significant infrastructure of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology and enables users to turn their geospatial data into real-time 3D terrain from within their GIS software. Terrain Tools complements MetaVR's image generator Virtual Reality Scene Generator™ (VRSG™).
Terrain Tools map view in ArcGIS of MetaVR’s virtual replica of the Kilo 2 MOUT site at Camp Pendleton, the resulting real-time textured and wireframe views of the 3D terrain tiles rendered in VRSG. The 3D geospecific and geolocated models were built externally in Luxology Modo and Autodesk 3ds Max. Then they were placed on the terrain with VRSG Scenario Editor as part of the terrain workflow.
Building on the industry standard ArcGIS platform, MetaVR's Terrain Tools extension combines powerful 3D terrain building functionality with an accessible and intuitive interface that can be easily understood by anyone with a comprehension of geospatial data concepts and some experience with ArcGIS. With this product, MetaVR can focus on the terrain composition while taking advantage of the significant GIS functionality provided by the Esri product line.
In addition to creating real-time terrain in MetaVR's Metadesic round-earth terrain format for rendering in VRSG, the key features of MetaVR Terrain Tools for ArcGIS include:
The following example shows use of Terrain Tools and Esri’s CityEngine to create an urban environment. CityEngine generates procedurally created models from building footprints and road vectors using Open Street Map (OSM) data.
In the above example, the 3D models of buildings in Dubai were extruded and textured from OSM data. CityEngine exports models in the popular FBX file format, which you can convert to MetaVR’s model format and render in VRSG.
The following video gives a 7 minute overview of Terrain Tools:
Metadesic terrain format
MetaVR's Metadesic (MDS) round-earth terrain format is ideal for aerial and air-to-ground training applications, which require vast areas of terrain fidelity both in the air and at ground-level. Terrain Tools is currently used to build terrain for many manned and unmanned aircraft simulators and for joint fires and JTAC simulation training. The round-earth terrain format has many benefits; most importantly, the terrain models the earth to a high degree of accuracy over its entire surface. This level of accuracy is vital for targeting applications and determining intervisibility.
Another critical advantage of the Metadesic format is its segmented database representation. Terrain built in Metadesic format is comprised of relatively small, self-contained terrain tiles that fit together seamlessly but can be built separately. This property enables a high degree of parallel processing of terrain since many different machines licensed for ArcGIS and Terrain Tools can build tiles for a given area at the same time.
Within the ArcGIS interface, coastlines and road networks can be digitized and cut out from geospecific imagery using Terrain Tools. At runtime, VRSG generates simulated 3D ocean or multi-textured, animated, normal-mapped water surfaces in the regions identified as water, or blends road textures with underlying imagery. The terrain tiles seamlessly match complete water tiles generated by VRSG.
In the example above, MetaVR Terrain Tools was used to create the terrain mesh of the high-resolution representation of the shoreline of the jetty off the coast of Kismayo, Somalia. The bathymetry data in the terrain enhances the fidelity of where the shoreline meets the 3D ocean generated by VRSG at runtime.
MetaVR Terrain Tools for Esri ArcGIS version 1.4 requires any license level of ArcGIS for Desktop 10.2 and above (Basic, Standard, Advanced) with the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension.
Note: There is currently no roadmap to support ArcGIS Pro, as ArcGIS Pro uses a completely new developer SDK and does not contain the 3D APIs required for Terrain Tools. ArcGIS Desktop continues to evolve and will be supported by Esri for many years.
Additional terrain-building machines can use either ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcGIS Engine version 10.2 and above. This flexible licensing for additional terrain-building machines is attractive because of the significantly lower cost of an ArcGIS Engine license compared to that of ArcGIS for Desktop. Note that at least one full license of ArcGIS for Desktop is required to run Terrain Tools. In addition, Terrain Tools must be installed on each machine on which terrain will be built.
Esri ArcGIS Desktop 10.5 can be purchased directly from Esri. If you plan to purchase ArcGIS solely for using Terrain Tools, ArcGIS for Desktop Basic will be sufficient. (The additional features in ArcGIS for Desktop Standard and Advanced are not required for Terrain Tools.)
You can order the MetaVR Terrain Tools for ArcGIS directly from MetaVR.