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I soar over the Grand Canyon ; I glide between the mountains of Hawaii or along the cliff face in Scotland. At times, I ascend beyond the planet's atmosphere to observe the luminous lace that covers the nocturnal skin of the continents. I let myself be guided, every day, in the labyrinth of Apple's aerial screensavers. My television transforms into the window of a spaceship orbiting Earth. The incessant traveling of the drone above the observed places, at constant speed and perfectly fluid, doubled by a 4K resolution, makes the experience as real as nature; the illusion is staggering. I ask for more. I could reincarnate as an invisible drone and do nothing but that, exploring every nook and cranny of all the planets of the solar system in postbird's-eye view.
While the writing of my novel in progress advances, Google Maps imposes itself as a creative tool to draw and calculate the trajectory of my character who crosses a part of Canada on foot. With the ground-level display function of Google Earth Pro, I can simulate the movement of my narrator; I accumulate a large number of screenshots taken from the application. It's a practical way to do, literally, field research.
A few years ago, I began exploring Terragen, a 3D modeling software generator of landscapes that notably allows the use of a DTM (Digital Terrain Model). Rather than manually sculpting virtual clay until imaginary landscapes grow, the DTM, thanks to real altitude data, allows for a three-dimensional rendering faithful to reality.
With Terragen, I generate multiple fragments of the Rockies, in Alberta, where the first scene of my novel takes place. I modify the textures of the landscape so that it resembles that of the futuristic and pictorial environment of my story. The software also allows to create image renderings with photorealistic clouds and volumetric lighting. By creating a digital mirror of the world, I feel like I'm truly playing with reality.
The tools for having fun creating or reproducing landscapes, or even entire planets, are becoming easier to use. I am amazed by Nanite, the virtualized geometry system of Unreal Engine 5, which also offers free access to its huge library of resources, Megascans.
True Terrain, a Blender addon, allows for even quicker modeling of pieces of land. GIS, another application for Blender, is intended to be a sort of 3D extension of Google Map. With AI that can already create spectacular images of landscapes and will soon be able to generate 3D objects,the possibilities multiply and I never cease to be electrified with creative joy in assembling increasingly personalized creation pipelines.
I dream of the day when I could offer a virtual backdrop with the publication of a novel, a place-work where it will be possible to settle in to read or, even better, explore an open world that will extend the reading and allow the continuation of a story to be invented.
Or an entirely new one.
3D modeling | digital images | text : KAROLINE GEORGES