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Using the GeoWall  |  Using Walkabout  |  Using Wallview  |  Using Partiview  |  Partiview for Developers  | 


Q: What software do we use?

Being a quasi-funded guerilla group, we spend as little as possible on software. Below are what we use to make movies :

Software that we use on our GeoWall are listed below.


Q: What is a GeoWall?
A: It is a standard(izing) name for a low-cost (under $8000) dual projector 'passive VR' setup. It uses polarizing filters and glasses to display stereo images in full color. There is no head tracking, but if you give demos to tens and hundreds of people at a time, you certainly do NOT want head tracking. For those who know what a CAVE is, a GeoWall is a one-wall CAVE.

For more information, head straight to the Geowall Consortium site, and the geowalltech mailing list archive.

Q: Why the name Geowall?
A: This setup has been most used in science education in Geology and Geography departments.

Q: Are GeoWalls portable?

Yes, but you better be able to aligning projectors! That takes some practice, patience, and mechanical tinkering. Not for a theoretical physicist.

We've moved it about half a dozen times in the Spring Quarter, giving demos around Chicago and at the Aspen Workshop for Education & Outreach in July 2004. The biggest problem is alignment; that takes some trial and error to get the hang of.

Q: What software does Cosmus use on GeoWalls?

After a period of trial and error, the software we use to run our stuff on GeoWalls (i.e. what you need to get to run our content) is:

To make content, we use the following software.

  • Partiview. Free.
  • Pokescope. Excellent for aligning stereo pairs of photographs. $100.
  • Macromedia Director. Allows you to combine audio and visuals in any way you want. Great for using on a digital museum floor, as is done at Adler. $600 academic license, well worth it.
  • Polytrans: A very powerful program that converts between numerous different formats, including Maya (OBJ), VRML and DXF (used for CAD drawings). The demo version is free, but intentionally removes a fifth of the polygons in the final model. The full version costs $500 or $600, and is worth it.

Note that other software is available, often for free. Here are some flowcharts Stephanie Andrews made to show the process of developing exhibits for the Web (Technical, General) and for GeoWalls (Technical, General).

Using Walkabout

Q: What is Walkabout?
A: For our purposes, it is a browser for 3d models that works on GeoWalls. It is written by Andy Johnson at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Electronic Visualization Lab. Go to the
Walkabout Page for more information and for downloads.

Q: How do I navigate in Walkabout?
A: Currently, this is keyboard only. Move with the arrow keys, press W and F to switch between Walk and Fly modes, E and C make you look up and down (i.e. craning your neck), G+right arrow during the Fly mode does a nice rotation around a point.

Using Wallview

Q: What is Wallview?
A: It is a slide show viewer for Geowalls written by Russ Burdick. For more information, go to the
Wallview site.

Q: How do I navigate in Wallview?
A: After you click on the icon and two pictures appear side by side, left-click once on either of the pictures. After that, page down (or space) and page up move between pictures. The left and right mouse buttons permit translation and zooming. Wallview starts on a photo at the same place where the photo was stopped the last time it was viewed (if that makes no sense, you'll understand when it happens...)

Using Partiview

Q: What is Partiview?
Partiview is an open source 4d viewer written by Stuart Levy of the NCSA.

Q: How do I navigate in Partiview?
A: The key is to press a mouse button down, move the mouse, and release the mouse button. Navigation is inertia-based, so whatever you were doing when the mouse button is released continue to happens. If you want to stop movement, click once, without moving your mouse during the click.

  • Rotation / Spinning : left click & hold, then move.

  • Zooming: Right click (and hold!) the mouse and move up and down. (If you have a Mac with a one-button mouse, press the option key as you click that button.)

  • Stopping motion: click once with the mouse.

  • Translation. Press CTRL (and keep it pressed), then leftclick-hold-move. Alternatively, press f once, then do the leftclick-hold-move thing. When happy, stop the motion and press o. You're back in the 'orbit' mode that enables you to do 'everything' else except translation.

    What's happening here is that 'f' changes the mode from 'orbit' to 'fly', and pressing 'o' gets back to 'orbit' mode. Pressing CTRL keeps you in 'fly' mode for as long as it's pressed.

  • Changing the center of rotation. Find the point you want to rotate around. Click on it. Press p. Then press P, i.e. SHIFT+p. (Don't ask why, just do it.). If this doesnt work, try again, you probably didnt choose a point the first time. You'll know when you pick a point successfully if you're command window is open, since the coordinates etc of the point will appear.

If you see buttons in your demo, click them to turn parts of the demo off and on.

Q: How do I right click on a Mac when my mouse only has one button?
A: Press CTRL while you press the mouse button.

Q: What else has Partiview been used for?
A: Check out the Digital Universe at Hayden Planetarium in NY, and how it's used for information visualization and machine learning by Dinoj Surendran.

Partiview for Developers

Partiview has two user guides, one from Hayden and one from Maryland. Everyone should read the first at some point, developers should also read the latter. Bear in mind though that Partiview has a lot more features than are actually documented.

[FEB 07] Perl scripts and utilities

[FEB 07] Flypathmaker : Perl scripts for making flypaths and creating files for rendering in mono, stereo or fulldome environments.

How to use Partiview on a GeoWall

Making flypaths and wf files

How to make MPEG movies with Partiview on Linux.

How to include OBJ files in Partiview.

How parts of the SDSS Movie were made.

How to convert rectangular maps to interactive globes

Dealing with Latitude and Longitude. How to place points on a globe of earth when given their GPS coordinates.

Making thick lines.

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