Raleighs Cross Mine c.1867 - reconstruction

I was commissioned by the West Somerset Mineral Railway (WSMR) Project to create a model of the iron ore mine complex at Raleighs Cross, Exmoor as it may have appeared in c.1867. The purpose of the model was to enable still images and a pre-rendered video of the reconstruction to be generated and displayed to aid readers' understanding on a webpage which tells a short history of the mine.

The model was created using a variety of original photographs, those showing the remains of the mine today and a set of reconstruction plans and elevations drawn by Mike Jones. These are all available for viewing on the WSMR website. The model was built in two main stages. The first stage was completed in Google SketchUp 7.1 where elements such as the mine buildings, the landscape, the beam engine and the wagons were all constructed separately before being imported as components into one model file. The model is scaled at 1:1 with the terrain being created from a contour map of the area using SketchUp's Sandbox terrain functions. Basic texturing was done during the first stage with photo textures being either created from photographs of the mine's remains or from the CGTextures website. The areas that did not receive a photo texture, such as basic metal, wood and landscape materials, were painted a generic representative colour which could be substituted later in the workflow.

The second stage in the creation of the model was importing the completed SketchUp model into e-on Software's Vue Pro Studio 7. This programme was used for its powerful texturing and rendering capabilities, particularly of outdoor spaces. Materials, textures, ecosystems and light settings were created, applied and tweaked in Vue before renders could be set up and generated. A variety of different light settings, representing different times of day and weather conditions were tested with an overcast, early morning environment being chosen to create a dirty, industrial atmosphere. With the settings finalised a 2min 27sec-long animated fly-through could be generated to show the journey of the iron ore from the extraction face, up the mine shaft and out into a railway wagon. This was set up and rendered as 3848 individual frames using Vue's animation features. The frames were then compiled into uncompressed avi video clips in Jasc Animation Shop 3 and assembled into the final video in Ulead VideoStudio SE. At this stage a lamp effect was added to brighten the below-ground sequences as, although it was more historically accurate with very little artificial light in the mine workings, the viewer could hardly see what was happening.

The eight final renders and selection of work-in-progress screenshots and renders from both the SketchUp and Vue stages of the model's construction are presented here.