Aurora Masthead.

Behind the Scenes
In this "Behind The Scenes" section we will explain some of the technology
that went into producing the Aurora Project CD-ROM.

Animated DEMs (Digital Elevation Models)
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has digitally mapped much of the U.S. in 30 meter elevation samples. Using these DEMs, we reconstructed realistic landscape representations for the six Aurora community watershed partnership sites.

Application Programs such as Natural Scene Designer and Vista Pro have developed a way to translate these DEMs into a map on the computer screen where we can pick between an almost infinite number of parameter choices. Included are camera viewpoint, lens angle of view, direction, elevation, pitch, bank, etc. Also a target point can be identified. By rendering many different images or frames as the camera is moved toward the target, an animation or movie can be made which makes the view appear to be similar to moving from one spot to another as if you were in an airplane or helicopter.

It is also possible to move slowly along the ground, but we chose to use short fly-in movies for each of the sequences which play when an Aurora Project site is "visited."

DEM graphic of Muleshoe area.

Once an animation of 120 frames was rendered to a QuickTime movie it was brought into the Adobe Premier editing program where a two to three second transition was made into a picture which matched the final animation frame. And, as a final step, the entire movie was compressed for CD ROM playback with the application called Media Cleaner Pro. Sound effects were added later.

QuickTime Virtual Reality (QuickTime VR's or QTVR's)
 K. Flanagan taking QTVR. Using a Nikon 8008 35mm still camera and a Kaidan Rotating Panorama head mounted on a sturdy Bogen tripod, a series of vertical photographs were taken in a 360 degree circle. Each succeeding photograph overlapped by approximately 1/2 of the view of the last one. Depending on which lens was used, either a 17 mm wide angle, or a 24 mm wide angle, approximately 12 to 18 photographs would be taken for each QTVR panorama scene.
 K. Flanagan taking QTVR. The film was processed into 35mm slides and chosen QTVR strips were digitized onto Photo CD disks. These sequences were loaded into the Apple QTVR authoring program and stitched together into a seamless panorama. In addition, hot spots were created in each QTVR panorama to allow the user to click to get more detailed information about a subject. Finally, these QTVRs are diced into a final panorama for use in a multimedia authoring program such as mTropolis.

Digital Video and CD-ROM/DVD-ROM
We used a Sony digital video camera in the field at each of the Aurora sites. This camera allowed us to record real time movement such as people talking about various subjects and important watershed features. In addition, we used a "Glide Cam", which is a gyroscope type, hand held video camera attachment. This piece of equipment allows us to walk through the watershed and shoot footage that appears as if the camera is floating through the air.

This original digital video was transferred from a "firewire" connection on the Sony Camera via a firewire cable to the Radius MotoDV hardware card on a Macintosh 8500 Computer and a fast Seagate AV hard drive. Video editing programs such as Adobe Premier, Radius EditDV and QuickTime Movie Player were used to edit and finalize the movie clips. Finally, Movie Cleaner Pro was used to compress the movies for CD ROM playback and for use in the mTropolis authoring program.


A major limitation of Project Aurora being authored to a CD-ROM disk is the limited space available for video footage. We shot several hours of video at each of the Community Watershed Partnership sites and only used a small portion of that video in the final CD-ROM. During the past six months, DVD (Digital Video Disc) technology has become available which will eventually allow five to over twenty times more video footage to be placed on a DVD-ROM disk. This was rather expensive to do in 1997, but in the next year, costs will decrease dramatically as the technology becomes more popular. DVD-ROM should be the preferred product for interactive video in the future.

Gary Grimm with digital video camera.

Digital Sound
Gary Grimm with digital video camera. We used the Sony digital video camera with three different microphone systems in the field to capture human voices, stream, river and ocean sounds, animal and other natural noises and bird calls. One of these microphone systems used a remote transmitter to capture sounds at a long distance from the camera. These sounds were transferred from the camera through the firewire card to the Macintosh computer and a fast Seagate AV hard drive. These files were then edited with Macromedia's Sound Edit and combined with still photographs and moving video sequences in the mTropolis authoring program.

Still photographs
Most of the still photographs were taken with 35 mm Nikon still cameras in the field. These were digitized onto Photo CD disks. In addition, some still photographs were taken from single frames of the digital video footage with the firewire program called Radius PhotoDV. Some 35 mm slides and prints were provided by BLM and these were scanned with Photo CD, an HP PhotoSmart Slide Scanner or Umax flatbed scanner. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Extensis Photo Tools were used to prepare and size the images for the final CD-ROM.  Katy Flanagan photographing.

Interface and Maps
Aurora project map. Beth Workman of Zeland Studio helped us design the graphical interface for the CD-ROM. This included the layout and design of the pages and elements such as the banners, buttons and maps. She used programs such as Quark, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Extensis Photo Tools. We also used Cartesia's Map Art programs for the Western United States map.

Software and Hardware

Radius Photo DV for capturing still images from digital
Radius Moto DV for capturing moving sequences and
sounds from Digital video
Radius Edit DV for editing digital sequences
Adobe Premiere for editing digital sequences
QuickTime Movie Player for editing digital sequences
mFactory MovieTrax for editing sound and video
mFactory mTropolis for programming environment
Macromedia Sound Edit Pro for editing sound and
narration sequences
Apple QuickTime VR Authoring Tools Suite for creating
QTVR sequences
Apple MPW Pro for programming QTVR scripts
Apple Hyper Card for producing multinode QTVR scenes
Adobe Photoshop for manipulating still images for final
Terran Inc., Media Cleaner Pro for cropping and
compressing movies for CD ROM playback
Natural Graphics Natural Scene Designer for creating
Digital Elevation Model animations
Virtual Reality Laboratories, Inc., Vista Pro for creating
Digital Elevation Model stills and animations
Extensis Photo Tools for enhancing still images and other
QuarkXPress for layout and page design
Adobe Illustrator for graphic design and illustration
Astarte and Adaptec Toast for CD-ROM writing
WordPerfect for word processing
Eudora Pro for e-mail management
Netscape Communicator for web browser
Microsoft Internet Explorer for web browser
Adobe PageMill for web page development
Fetch for FTP file exchange
Caere OmniPage for optical character recognition
Norton Utilities for hard disk optimization
Extensis Portfolio for media database
Canto Cumulus for media management
Fractual Design Painter for graphic design and illustration
Astound for storyboard development
Cartesia Map Art for graphic design of relief map
Digital Wisdom, Inc. Mountain High Maps for graphic
design of relief map


Apple 8500 Power PC Computer, 120 MHz, 80 Megs ram
Apple 8100 Power PC Computer, 80 MHz, 48 Megs ram
Apple 3400 Powerbook Power PC Laptop Computer, 200
MHz, 80 Megs ram
IBM Aptiva Pentium Computer,133 MHz, 48 Megs ram
Adaptec SCSI card for Pentium
CD-ROM drives from 2X, 4X, 6X,24X
Syquest 40 and 270 Meg removable cartridge drives
Yamaha 4x CD-ROM recorder
12 gigabytes of available hard disk drive space
Two 7200 rpm AV hard drives for video editing
Umax Flatbed scanner
HP Photosmart photo scanner
HP OfficeJet
Two HP DeskJet printers
Two 21", two 17", and two 14" color computer monitors
Radius Firewire card for Macintosh
Capsure video card for Powerbook
Sony DCR-VX1000 Digital Video Camera
Glidecam Industries, Inc. video camera stabilizer and body
Sony 9" AC/DC field monitor
JVC S-VHS Camcorder
Five Bogen and Gitzo tripods
Kaidan QTVR PanHead
Nikon 8008 35mm camera
Nikon F3 35mm camera with motordrive
Nikon FM 35mm camera
17mm, 24mm, 28-70mm zoom, 55mm, 75-150mm
zoom, 75-300mm zoom, 200mm lenses
Keep It Simple Systems solar panel for charging video and
laptop batteries
Delorme TripMate portable GPS for laptop
Sony Portable cassette field recorder

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