Constructing Knowledge & Virtual Places

Following are updates from two UC Berkeley undergraduate research apprentices who are recreating an archaeological excavation site in Second Life as part of the Remixing Catalhoyuk project. Curious? Come visit Okapi Island in Second Life.

Daniel Wei describes below how he used a 2d contour map to create a 3d model of the excavation site, which will take up the entire surface of OKAPI island.

Video of Okapi Island in 3d.


To generate a 3D terrain file for Second Life from a 2D contour map, I used a open source program called Backhoe. Backhoe is a small, easy-to-use program specifically used to edit Second Life terrain files, but it only works on Mac OS. For a windows program, I would suggest using Bailiwick which is also open source. On a side note, one can also use the built-iokapi_islandn SL terrain editing tools, but using third party programs is easier. If one only wants to read these .raw files without installing extra programs, one can use Photoshop. First of all, I found a 2D contour map of the Eastern mound of the Catalhoyuk site. The one I used does not have all the measurements, so rough estimates were used to generate the 3D image. This is a reeast_moundasonable estimate since the land is interpolated anyway once imported into Second Life. Backhoe includes a sample .raw file, which includes all 13 channels needed to define a Second Life terrain file. I first flattened the land to create a new slate to draw the mound. I then used the different tools: raising, lowering, smoothing, roughen, etc. to approximate the heights of the mound. It was also beneficial to make the contour map the same size as the editing window to get precise dimensions. It is easiest to start at the highest point of the image and work ones way down the terrain by raising the land in contours around the highest point. Once this is done, I use the smoothing tool to get a smooth surface, critical to get a good rendering of the terrain in Second Life. At the end, I raised the water level so that the island will have water on all sides. This file can then be exported as a .raw file ready for import into Second Life.

Audio producer Marc E. Moglen describes below how he created his piece entitled Çatalhöyük Invocation. Listen.

Upon entering the Second Life Okapi Island one hears (or may hear) a music piece entitled Çatalhöyük Invocation. The piece combines elements of the old and new, remixed into a cohesive sound experience.

Drums and other simple percussive instruments throughout reflect some possible instrumental sounds of the ancient civilization, and with added digital delay (echo) and reverberence resemble the sounds of working with tools and hands. Actual audio from scholars conversing at the dig site is chopped up, and with delay added becomes just the musicality of vocal inflection, as the phrases are incomprehensible.

A modern Turkish instrument, the saz, is introduced late in the piece along with changing percussive elements.

The sounds of birds (a midi file triggered by a midi keyboard, with added amplitude envelopes and reverberence) give a sense of some of the fauna on at the site. The piece ends with just the birds, as a transitional ending to the piece.


6 Responses to Constructing Knowledge & Virtual Places

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