The Global Tanaka Project is an ongoing visualisation project to develop a living breathing representation of our earth. It started as a test bed for me to animate various concepts on a globe but turned into a more data-driven project to showcase various environmental and human elements.
Using data from ScienceBase I wanted to create a distinct feel for each ecosystem – this needs work still and I need to source some better low-poly vegetation models but I think it helps to distinguish eco regions.
I love the idea of adding volcanoes and so found some data for volcanoes (http://volcano.si.edu via ArcGIS Online) with an ‘advisory’ or ‘watch’ threat level, otherwise there are too many! I need to get these animated and integrated properly…
I love the idea of adding in global landmarks so have started compiling a list so the current version is far from exhaustive. They definitely give a ‘Civilization’ vibe to the global map!
Moon / ISS:
A twitter user suggested adding a moon, I like the idea of a small Tanaka moon - totally needs sense checking etc but proof of concept is there. I’ve also added an orbiting ISS, just because!
I want to keep building on this map but my bigger question is whether it should exist as two versions; human vs environmental? I want to look into global animal migrations next as well as squash a ton of niggly issues in the current version! Watch this space...
Creating a global tanaka map is tricky - slicing up a world terrain map results in a huge amount of geometry ~8million vertices and so working out how to optimise this is a challenge, especially for the gpu!
I also came across the challenge of mapping the antimeridian - the slightest pixel inconsistency in the base height map means the globe develops a nice peach!
These challenges are part of the fun of creating the project, below are some more screenshots from early development concepts. I really like the greyscale version of the globe and might return to that iteration at some point!