Virtual Tour Previsualization
Capturing an iconic historical landmark to bring to the world.
In 2016 I began pre-production work with Bajibot and our Buffalo Trace Distillery partner to recreate their 410-acre distillery as a virtual tour to be built in Unity. Unlike other virtual tours where a camera simply moves through the space allowing you to look around a bit, we dreamed of something bigger. Our goal was to fully recreate the distillery, inside and out, as a 3D world in which the visitor could move freely through the space, similar to a video game. What we were willing to give up in photo quality was made up for in the freedom to explore the environment. My company's task was going to be to take the 3D assets provided by Bajibot, and composite them into a seamless world to run on desktop and tablet devices.To understand how the project would need to be build, we went down to the distillery with the crew to capture over 7,000 photos, drove footage, environmental sounds, and video reference material. While the model team focused on the structural elements, I captured wider shots of spaces and relative placements of buildings, trees, flowers, and terrain elements. Once back in the studio, it was time to start crafting the terrain base. Using Google Maps and Google Earth, I was able to take a snapshot of the distillery area and get a rough model for topography. While it was far from perfect, it help to start placing the buildings and start doing navigational and way-finding tests. As the models started to be delivered, the world started to take shape. Early on the focus was to see how far the photo realism could be pushed. Relying on the drone images, ground-level photography, and satellite images, I started to place the buildings along with trees and other elements to start to replicate what the real environment looked and felt like. With the environment starting to take shape, it was time to start crafting the core of the experience: how tours would work. We were planning on having three tours, each with different interior and exterior stops. We had to balance easy on-screen way-finding and navigation with free roaming controls for more curious users. Once we could navigate through the project easily, we could optimize the visual elements along the tour paths.