From Cup boats to buildings

The man who brought America's Cup graphics to New Zealand hopes to revolutionise the resource consents process with similar 3D technology.

The man who brought America’s Cup graphics to New Zealand hopes to revolutionise the resource consents process with similar 3D technology.

Last year Ian Taylor's Dunedin firm, Animation Research (ARL), along with NZ Aerial Mapping and geographic information systems specialists Mike and Leslie Bundock, bought failed SOE Terralink from the receivers.

Taylor is now combining the technologies of the three businesses to generate real-time 3D graphics, which he says will allow developers and others to see how projects will look.

The system will show 3D views of planned buildings from various angles and enable designers to see what projects will look like if they were changed or moved. A trial involving a South Island property developer has led to a building complex being redesigned so the builders could create more units with better mountain views, making the project more valuable, he says.

Taylor says the project will have uses in other property projects, such as subdivisions and motorways. “People need to know the effects of these things first before they happen. You can get artists’ impressions, but they’re not the same,” he says.

Taylor hopes by discovering whether people’s concerns are valid or not, the technology could, for example, cut the resource consent process for a large project from two years to 18 months.

“It brings up truths you don’t want to know, but it is better to know now than 10 years from now when you have cocked it up. Progress requires some change, but we can make sure we know what we are getting.”

ARL, perhaps best known for its involvement in the Virtual Spectator America’s Cup animation, and NZAM have worked together for some years. In 2000 they founded a joint venture called eMap to combine aerial mapping with geographic information systems (GIS).

The new 3D graphics service is still being developed and as yet has no name, but typifies what the company says is a major change of focus at Terralink, changing the former SOE that set the rules, to that of a customer-driven private company.

Terralink managing director Mike Donald (pictured) says the company has just completed a major restructuring that saw staff numbers fall from 230 to 130 and the Palmerston North office being closed. Clearly defined business units have been set up covering areas as diverse as imagery, satellite mapping, cartographic mapping and a property information division.

Donald says the business is shifting from high-risk low profit overseas mapping work to more technical services, using imaging technology. These include projects in the UK, Europe, the US and soon the Middle East.

Projects include capturing “building footprints” for mapping and data work, while a joint venture in Australia should lead to much mapping work from that country’s government, work that would mostly be done from Wellington.

Donald says Terralink has been through “a pretty hard time” over the past 18 months, dealing with “skeletons” like unsuitable projects, but says the business is redeveloping business relationships and looking to future growth.

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