Model of the Streetscape
*Note: To view any of the scenography models in full screen: click on MORE in the top navigation panel of each model and then click on VIEW IN SKETCHFAB. This will allow you to orbit in the first person (click on the little icon that looks like an eye) and zoom in to the model.
The following is a paradata post on the methodological approach adopted in creating a visualisation of the Pearse Street streetscape in order to provide a point of comparison for the street today, versus how it appeared with the Queen’s Theatre facade obtained from the letters patent plans of 1951.
To begin with, we decided that the facade of the theatre that Tony modelled should be featured visually in a way that contrasts with the current streetscape as it exists today. In group meetings, it was decided that a team of us would attempt some photogrammetry in order to realise this. Tony was asked to photograph the street. He shot twelve photographs in the early morning, when the traffic would ideally be limited. Tony sent these photographs to Kate, who was to add them to the photogrammetry software. Unfortunately, the files were particularly large and in a format that was incompatible. Attempts to accurately resize the picture led her to believe that we would also need a significantly larger pool of images for the software to work from. Tony obliged and again went to Pearse Street to re-shoot. This time, Tony uploaded about two-dozen photos which were about two to three megapixels each. They can be viewed here.
Again, Kate tried the photogrammetry several times. Each time, the end product was completely indiscernible as a street. She then searched for other groups who has utilised the same tool (to the same ideal end) in order to complete their projects. One, which focused heavily on paradata, explicitly noted that Agisoft do not recommend their photogrammetry software for visualisations of spaces such as Pearse Street. This is for a number of reasons, but primarily, the software cannot recognise flat, mirrored, or highly-reflective surfaces. Currently, the section of Pearse Street where the Queen’s once stood is filled with office buildings with facades consisting of a lot of glass. Once we had identified this as a terminal issue, we began researching alternatives.
Kate had seen visualisations utilising Google Earth, and upon some research had seen that this could be a viable alternative to photogrammetry. This was discussed and the streetscape group agreed to attempt this. Then, the group undertook a trial run to see if the use of Google Maps was a straightforward way of visualising what we wanted. In SketchUp, the add location tool was used to provide a Google Earth satellite view of Áras An Phiarsaigh, which now occupies the site that the Queen’s Theatre used to occupy. The roof of the building is at an angle to the street and therefore obtaining a perfect square that captures the building is impossible or beyond the competency of this particular team of visualisers. In retrospect, the adding of a location was spurious, if this was to go ahead as a visualisation, the addition of the location itself is unimportant in comparison to the facade, which would not map accurately onto the Google Maps image anyway.
As this was a trial run to establish the feasibility of the visualisation, a square was push/pulled upwards to x height. A surface of each square (as a visual representation of a building) was right-clicked and the option ‘add photo texture’ was chosen. The ‘photo textures’ tool brought up street view and the facade of Áras an Phiarsaigh was added.
For our next attempt we used the GOAD fire insurance plans on the flat to create a base for the building. We sourced images of the streetscape online and also consulted an image of the Queen’s Theatre that we came across in Shaw’s Directory 1850 and one from the RTE Archives. This was imported as an image in SketchUp and the following options were selected from the menu:
1.Import map as flat
2.Import facade photo as vertical
3.Rotate 90 degrees
4.Resize so the building line matches the facade line
5.Draw profile of buildings, include the divisions
6.Correct points so they are squares not connected lines
7.Use push pull tool to build the buildings up from the flat surface into 3d objects
This resulted in a rough model that we decided to alter in order to create a better reinterpretation of the space. Therefore, we made the previous attempt to present as a final option to the class. We were aware that our purpose in this should be to enhance a primary source (i.e. the fire insurance plans) so that the context is an attempt at historical interpretation and experiential, rather than experimental. In light of this, Hugh explained some ways in which we might improve the visualisation. He suggested that we might try extruding the footprint of the building vertically. It was also suggested that Christ might set back the base of the building from the streetline as indicated on the base map in order to signify footpath. Hugh also suggested that we might make approximations of height for neighbouring building from our existing photo sources, so that we might build ‘ghost’ models (or rather, blocks without specific modelling details) to provide more spatial context than the theatre alone.
After our final meeting, Chris spent some time adjusting the previous model in light of these suggestions. He explained that the SketchUp file of the facade was downloaded from the Google Drive and opened in SketchUp. The attached comments that Tony was using were deleted. The facade was selected and saved as a component to facilitate easier movement of the facade. The GOAD Fire Insurance Plans were imported as an image and were sized through guesswork. Attempts were made to move the facade over the Queen’s Theatre on the GOAD map. The scale tool was used to size the map appropriate to the facade. The left corner of the facade component was fit to the left corner of the facade. Outlines of each building on the streetscape were done with the line tool. Photos found of Great Brunswick Street online were used to approximate the height based on the known height of the Queen’s Theatre facade. The buildings on the map were push/pulled to fit their height. Finally, he used the two-point arc tool in order to visualise the buildings with rounded edges.
*In-exactitude of measurements disclaimer – the intention here was to create a basic visualisation to provide a visual framework/impression about the kind of space the theatre inhabited. Also, due to the problems we encountered with our other attempts as documented above, we were against the clock at the end resulting in lack of research time for visual sources on Townsend Street from 1951-1966.
As part of the streetscape visualisation process, we felt it was important to show how the relevant part of the street looks in 2015, even though it didn’t work for photogrammetry. Here are several photos of Áras an Phiarsaigh located where the Queen’s Theatre used to be. You can view the gallery to get an impression of the length of the building.
An option for the future, time permitting, would be to edit the images to give more of an impression of a straight view as opposed to this slightly angled view of Áras an Phiarsaigh. Then to combine the images into one ‘straight panorama’ to give a proper impression of length.