Converting DEM maps to terrain???

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  04 April 2013
Converting DEM maps to terrain???

Hey everybody,
I cant seem to figure out a way to bring the DEM into Vue. I have read some tutorials and even watch one on vimeo but they all are based on downloading a GEO-Tiff and the Government stopped supplying GEO-Tiff for download.

Is there a different way to bring a real to life elevation map into Vue and create a terrain?

I am running Mac OSX and Vue 10 Studio

Joe C.
  05 May 2013
Yeah, there's a way to do this, but it's complex. You'll need a python script called "PullSDTS", and you'll need to be able to run it from python.

The workflow looks like this: you need to download "quads" of the appropriate DEM files. These then get run through PullSDTS, which allows you to save them as photoshop RAW files. Open these files in photoshop and convert them to 16 bit tiff files. These you can import into the terrain editor using the picture button.

A couple things, there used to be a tutorial out there, but I haven't seen it in a long time. I have it save as an .rtfd file, and I can send that to you.

Second, and this is a real problem. When you launch PullSDTS in python (from terminal) and you choose "select file" button, the dialog box is supposed to show a pull-down menu that lets you choose file types. For some reason, if you're running OS X Lion or Mountain Lion and you launch python from your terminal, this pull down menu is missing; which makes it impossible to select a file. I'm running some computers with Snow Leopard, and on them it's not a problem.

Contact me, and I'll send you some stuff with a more detailed explanation.


Last edited by lhitch : 05 May 2013 at 06:35 PM.
  05 May 2013
Dem Import

USGS DEM's can be imported directly under File> import object, but they are difficult to edit. You can also use software like Global Mapper to export the geo tiff from the DEM, then use this to form a procedural terrain in the function editor of the terrain editor. 90m DEM's are a bit smooth and can be roughened up a bit by blending in a bit of noise. However I don't think Vue is designed for geographical accuracy but it can produce some realistic images of real world places.
  05 May 2013
I tried sending you a bunch of stuff, but the email was returned as undeliverable because there was "No such user". Do you have another email address?

  05 May 2013
Originally Posted by lhitch: I tried sending you a bunch of stuff, but the email was returned as undeliverable because there was "No such user". Do you have another email address?


sorry about that. I PMed you the correct email. I misspelled it the first time.
  09 September 2013

where i can download dem files , i want to make a terrain in zbrush
  09 September 2013
You can download DEM's from the GEO Community. You'll need an account. I'd go with the premium service; it's totally worth it. The free downloads are limited and really slow. The premium service is REALLY cheap. I bought 150 MB of downloads 5 years ago for about $25 and I've used less than half of that. The average file size is about 200KB. I've probably downloaded over 200 DEMs Here's the address:

You'll need to know which grids you want. The DEM grids match the grids used for topographical maps. They're listed by name (like "Badger Lake, Oregon") and by grid number (like "45121c5").

Here's a couple of address for locating the grids you want. They're both great. I mostly use the second one.

Click on a state, then the county you want and you'll get an index of all the different types of files available for that county. Click on "Digital Elevation Models (DEM) - 24K". You'll then get a list of all the DEM files for that count, listed by USGS grids.

When you get to the download section, go with the 10 meter files. Lots more resolution, but be aware the there's still only 1 data point for every 10 meters. That's still 9X more resolution than the 30 meter files.

Good luck, hope this helps.
  09 September 2013
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