Heartland Project

A Photo & 3D Graphics Merge

This was one of the more challenging projects we were involved in and one of the longest.

AltaLink, an electrical utility company that manages the electrical grid through much of the province of Alberta, in Canada, approached us to provide photo and 3D graphic composite images of the proposed route of a transmission line through Central Alberta.

They were looking at two different routes for the project, which meant that our work was extended over a huge area surrounding the capital city of Edmonton. 

The project had several different requirements that the client wanted accomplished:

  • Computer generated 3D models of all the proposed tower styles had to be built to exacting detail and scale.
  • Panoramic photos that would be stitched together showing key areas of the proposed right of way had to be captured and digitally constructed on a computer.. Each of the panoramic photos were located and geo-tagged using GPS coordinates.
  • With many of the panoramic image, computer alterations were done to the images to clear forests, and fill ponds, etc. to represent what the right of way will look like.
  • Tower locations were then located on the photos using GPS coordinates. 
  • From the tower coordinates and location of camera, distances from camera to towers, as well as elevations were calculated.
  • Using the plotted distances from camera, towers were placed on the panoramic images and sized using calculated size, relative to elevations and distance from camera.
  • Once all the towers were placed, sized and rotated to the correct orientation, power lines were digitally added between each tower and visually enhanced with lighting affects and weight factors.
  • This was done at a number of locations through the proposed right of ways.
  • Final images would be a composite of the computer rendered 3D tower images, complete with wires, and the panoramic photos of the different locations. 

This project extended over the better part of a year, and added some other elements to the task at hand, namely the weather. There were a number of days on-site that had us out in the elements in sub-zero temperatures. We were mostly concerned about the digital cameras we were using. The Hasselblad cameras, lenses and PhaseOne digital backs never failed us, a tribute to their construction.

These images are representative of some of the final images we produced for our client. At one of our meetings with the client we overheard the project lead engineer comment that the illustrations we provided were the best he has ever seen.

Our hard work and attention to detail paid off!

Here are some samples of the challenges and images we produced.

We were also faced with another challenge as a result of the scope and time frame of this project – how do you stay on top of the other work coming in from other clients?

This was probably one of the busiest years of our working lives, but also one of the most fulfilling. We would do it again in a heartbeat!