Computer Graphics World

July / August 2016

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34 cgw j u ly . a u g u s t 2 0 1 6 a process whereby we project the photo- graph onto the 3D model and paint and fill gaps, holes, even the lighting, to make sure it is consistent throughout." The artists had less photographic ref- erence for the higher-elevation locations, which required more hand-modeling. This was done using Autodesk's Maya, with texturing in The Foundry's Mari. Einarsson says the model is extremely accurate, based on comparisons to low-res- olution topology data of the mountain range and summit area. C L I M B I N G E X P E D I T I O N Everest's Kormakur set out to make the fea- ture film as authentic as possible, wanting moviegoers to feel as if they had almost climbed the mountain themselves. But in Everest VR, that is exactly what users do, albeit virtually. Everest VR is a real-time ex- perience, powered by Epic's Unreal Engine 4. As Einarsson points out, there are very intricate details in the 3D surfaces of the model, making the VR presentation as real- istic as possible. Yet, Everest VR is far more than a scenic tour of this amazing environ- ment. It attempts to provide users with the experience of an actual climb. Headphones with stereo sound help situate users in the setting; hand controllers enable them to utilize the climbing gear, such as ladders for crossing chasms. And, of course, a VR head- set immerses them in the stereo imagery. "This is not a game," says Hardarson. "It's an emotional experience." The virtual ascent starts with a tradi- tional puja ceremony, and then users start off from base camp, through the Khumbu Icefall, on to camps I through IV, passing the Hillary Step before reaching the summit. This is the southeast route that adventurers take when making the actual climb. If users move too quickly in the higher altitude area known as "the death zone," they start to black out – here in a virtual sense, of course. During the treks, users walk near the ledge and climb up to the ledge above for a view of the surrounding area. "It's about being in the moment," Hardarson says of the experience. And between treks to the location points, hikers are led on cinemat- ic journeys, giving them a good sense of the geography. "You get to know the route very well," he adds. USERS TAKE THE SOUTHEAST ROUTE TO THE PEAK, PASSING THE HILLARY STEP. AN IMAGE PROGRESSION (TOP TO BOTTOM) SHOWS A WIREFRAME, LIGHTING, AND FINAL RENDER.

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