Posted on December 16th, 2009

Virtual cruise tour project is rolling out

CleanCruising.com.au is by far the most innovative cruise retail web-site in the world. Having won several prizes for their comprehensive web-site containing thousands of cruise itineraries. It was therefore an honour to be approached with the request to find a way to visualise every one of more than 6000 cruise itineraries in an attractive way.

The first cruises have rolled out already. Visit the links below and click on
42 night Cherry Blossom Cruise
7 night Western Caribbean

As the Google Earth data is getting richer and more attractive by the day, it only makes sense that a solution is sought in a virtual tour of the cruise on Google Earth. Clean Cruising already uses Google maps extensively. Well Google Earth is what we do best as you can see on our web-site PlanetInAction.com

However, a smooth and interesting tour was not so hard to achieve but how to keep it short? How do you run by 10 exciting destinations lying hundreds of miles apart in less than two minutes? We had to really pull out the stops on this one to find a way to zoom from port to port while showing each port in the context of the location. Another problem posed by Google Earth is the fact that we had to display stylised text on the Google Earth screen. Unfortunately Google Earth does not provide a way to render text so all text elements needed to be pre-rendered into images which are then displayed in Google Earth. For this we used the excellent Imagemagick command line image processor. Below an image of the hundreds of parameters controling the various aspects of the application.

Clean Cruising upped the ante a bit further and decided they wanted to show the correct cruise ship in the context of the port. For this all of the worlds cruise ships needed to be modelled and textured with images taken from the real ships.

Clean Cruising had already spend many months collecting cruiseship imagery and more than once sent out photographers to get that perfect picture. In the case of the world's largest cruiseship, "Oasis of the seas", they even sent out a helicopter to get worlds only top down deck photo.

We were contracted to create detailed ship models that should be included in the cruise tour for which we used Google Sketchup of course.

The first few ships were supplied by another modelling contractor but those ships needed a lot more work to bring them up to the standard required by Clean Cruising. Eventually we gave up on the supplied models and rebuilt them from scratch because our techniques achieved much more detail and greatly reduced file sizes.

Clean Cruising is now using our tour generating software, models and imagery to generate comprehensive tours that are gradually rolled out on the cleancruising.com.au web-site. This data will involve many gigabytes of Google Earth Tour files but also many terabytes worth of High definition video footage captured through Google Earth Pro. Thanks to the support of HD in YouTube, we will eventually be able to show all this footage via YouTube. The video below is available in resolutions up to 1080p

Clean Cruising also wanted tours that would show of the immaculate detail of their 3D ship models (Models build by us of course). So we extended the cruise tour generator and enabled it to generate Ship tours. With this program the client can record amazing camera sequences in Google Earth and import them into the program. From there, these camera sequences are translated to the intended ship location and rendered into a ship tour.

This video is one of their first auto generated ship tours. Camera motion synchonisation, ship wake and shadow are all managed by the application.

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