Helsingin Sanomat (HS) staff graphic designer Uolevi Holmberg created a 3D model of 50-year-old Helsinki Metropolitan Transportation plan using open source 3D data of Helsinki as a base. In the end of ‘60s Finnish engineers with the help of American Wilbur Smith & Associates visioned eight-lane motorways over the city of Helsinki and massive intersections next to seaside islands and old stone brick house areas. Using game engine techniques HS visualized an unseen and intense scrollable flyover experience throughout the whole story.
There’s a debate in Helsinki weather to build a motorway tunnel under Helsinki or not. The vision has been also critized of being too automobile-centric. This article gave historic perspective to that debate.
For the article an alternative 3D environment of Helsinki was created. HS used an open data 3D model of the city and built new motorways on top of the model. The end result was visualized using game industry’s Unreal Engine. Other tools used were Modo, Meshlab, and After Effects. The article was hand-coded, but it used a web publishing platform made in Helsingin Sanomat.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Creating the alternative 3d model took weeks, because it was built manually. The first version of the story was made to theater stage, as it was one part of Helsingin Sanomat’s Musta Laatikko (Black Box) journalistic theater show. For web the story needed a lot of changes tweaking, because we wanted the reader to be able to advance in the 3d world by scrolling. This was done using video key frames in the code.
What can others learn from this project?
The techiques used were advanced. Unreal Engine is well suited also for journalistic needs, and the key frame technique in video offers a immersive scrollytelling experience.