December 30, 2012
Modeling an avalanche

Last week I posted a video from Jeremy White, loosely describing how he turned LIDAR data into a stunning model of Tunnel Creek. But more modeling yet went into showing exactly where the avalanche happened and how it traveled. My colleague Graham Roberts added trees, elevation lines and an actual model of the avalanche – its shape, depth, and size — as it flowed down the mountain. (The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research created the model specifically for this project.)

Below, a set of drafts that show the animation at various points along completion. These are courtesy of Graham, who rendered these in 3D, and Hannah Fairfield, one of the project’s editors.

Contrast these to the version that made it into the project (I failed at internet in trying to post that video here, but it looks better on the Snow Fall page anyway). You’ll see that they added elevation lines, toned back the background sound a bit and added a faint “tick” to help show the speed of the avalanche as it moved down the mountain. 

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