One of the most complicated terrain databases we have made recently is Ras Laffan Port, located 80 km from Doha, Qatar’s capital. It is one of the largest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ports and the world’s biggest artificial harbor.
Any LNG infrastructure is a challenging task for 3D modeling. It is primarily due to many pipelines, tanks, and the overall complexity of such sites. It looks like some unsolvable puzzle if you don’t have precise CAD data. And this is compounded if we are talking about real-time applications because cylindrical objects are the most costly meshes in terms of polycount.
We haven’t had CAD data or any other particular sources except publicly available materials from the Web, so our database is not an exact representation of a given area but a highly precise artist’s impression. We’ve used Google maps to create an accurate shoreline shapefile and locate essential landmarks. Thus, customers can place the database 3D models above their geo-specific terrain to get an accurate geographic representation. The location includes the main and outer breakwaters and the north LNG basin with detailed berths and flare stacks.
Despite the plenty of different details in the scene, only two models are dominant and define the big picture: an LNG jetty and a flare stack. So we have given special attention to these 3D models. We have found several good photos of the jetties and successfully used Modo camera matching for reproducing proportions and dimensions of the details. We’ve used the same 3D modeling and texturing approaches for our oil platform model (for more information, see the “Oil platform 3D modeling” blog article).
We’ve created several types of stones to make the breakwaters’ appearance realistic. We have done some of them as a tiled texture and others as the real geometry maintaining the balance of performance and fidelity. We haven’t paid much attention to recreating real road nets and pipelines because it’s hard to imagine how a customer can use them in such a database.