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  Detailed Bird’s-Eye Map Art in ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2006-05-30 by Tony Walsh
Detailed Bird’s-Eye Map Art in ‘Second Life’
Bitmap image to be converted into 3D cubes. Image credit: Qarl. Used here without permission.
When an accurately-rendered, dynamic overhead map of Second Life's virtual landscape was launched last year, it didn't take long for enterprising residents to write on that map using giant sky-letters. Resident Jillian Callahan, for example, floated shapes high above her aircraft sales area to advertise her business "Phase 5." Today, such bird's-eye view writing and artwork is commonplace, although somewhat lacking in sophistication.

A new method of sky-writing has been revealed, involving procedural reproduction of a bitmap image, pixel by pixel, rendered in 3D cubes. Enigmatic blogger Qarl reveals his methods for replicating a 2D image in 3D space in a post called "stupid map tricks." I'm no techie, but it seems that Qarl is parsing a bitmap with a small program written in C, that generates a Second Life script capable of automatically reproducing the bitmap from cubes. The resulting image is more detailed that earlier resident efforts, allowing for "photos" to be displayed on the map instead of basic lettering. Qarl's method does require more 3D shapes than simple lettering, and for some residents, these building blocks are a precious resource. I'm also not sure a more detailed image is more effective than straightforward lettering. Regardless, there's plenty of potential here for art projects, communication, and, of course, advertising.

Image credit: Qarl. Used here without permission.
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Comment posted by AJ DaSilva
May 30, 2006 @ 11:03 am
Someone did this with a picture of Philip a while ago too...
Comment posted by Torley
May 31, 2006 @ 12:37 am
^ Yeah, I think that was Belaya Statosky and CrystalShard Foo in the Rausch combat sandbox. And part of Philip's face disappeared because of the safe buffer zone in there with an autoreturn time.

It may have been a few months now, but I remember DaKind Pixel doing Madonna's face on one of his islands. Hee.

Why stop at 1 island when you can map a giant image over 4, or 9? (This is starting to sound strangely like Tringo.)
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
May 31, 2006 @ 11:56 am
Lots of people did this in TSO -- I mean using PSP and programs to generate pixelated color shading recipes for the tiles on the floors or roofs in TSO -- and in SL the equivalent will be either cubes or 16m2 squares of land. It means that very sophisticated and detailed pictures and be created that look like silk-screening -- although of course the "HI MOM" and "BUY ME" stuff is out there too.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 1, 2006 @ 9:04 am
Thanks for the info, folks. Seems mapvertising is alive and well in virtual worlds. I'd be grateful for any screenshots of this stuff, if any exist.
Comment posted by Torley
June 1, 2006 @ 9:34 am
Here's one of the Philip piccie I referenced:
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