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Fort Niagara Project, Pt.2: Conversion 1

Fort Niagara Project, Pt.2:
Conversion 1
(back to Pt.1: Introduction)

This post describes my original Fort Niagara project (“Conversion 1”), in which I converted the Historical Development of the Fort webpages to the Google Earth platform without significantly altering the layout of the 20 original drawn blueprints, and including the (unsatisfactory as it turns out) number-labeling system intact.   The accompanying text descriptions required some simple editing, and in the course doing that I added hyperlinks to historical material (maps, biographies, event descriptions, etc.) available elsewhere on the web (Google Earth has an embedded web browser).  I spent a little under 2 months completing it (at the end of this post I link to the kml file for this first project  if you want to jump ahead).

The image editing  (done in Photoshop) consisted of

  1. Creating a screenshot of Google Earth’s satellite image of Fort Niagara taken from approximately the same angle and height as the drawn blueprints
  2. importing the screenshot into Photoshop as a layer
  3. importing the 20 blueprint image files into Photoshop layers
  4. lining up the drawn blueprints as best I could with each other and with the satellite photograph (fortunately there is a common feature in all the blueprints, the “French Castle” which dates back to 1726)
  5. Coloring the drawn lines in the blueprints to make them more distinctly different as viewers toggled between them in Google Earth [I made some cosmetic changes to the 20 blueprints but few editorial ones, and they remain consistent with the original image files from oldfortniagara.org]
  6. Adding a white outline to the drawn lines so that the blueprint images would stand out (“pop”) when overlaying Google Earth’s satellite image
  7. saving each overlay as a png image file in a web-accessible location (in my rice.edu webfolders)

Here’s a screenshot from the Photoshop file with the 1755 blueprint displayed:

The Google Earth (Pro) part consisted of

  1. importing the 20 processed blueprint images into Google Earth as Image Overlays
  2. lining the blueprints up correctly with the satellite image and deciding on a default “Viewpoint” and angle
  3. importing the descriptive text that accompanied each blueprint on the website (so it opened as a Google Earth “Balloon”)
  4. adding all the appropriately titled overlays to a Google Earth “Folder” formatted so only one overlay appears at a time (with the “radio-style button” option)
  5. saving the folder as a Google Earth file (kml)

Here are two Google Earth screenshots of Conversion 1, both showing the 1755 Overlay and with the right one showing the text Balloon (Image Overlay Balloons are opened by double-clicking the left-navigation label) In addition to the (edited) website text, the Balloon also contains some additional material added by me –  the historical map the blueprint is based (with weblink to larger image) and links to websites on historical events/figures mentioned in the text.

[I’ll post Version 1’s kml file at some point, currently it references image files on my C: Drive so I’ll have to put the images online and update the links.] – [left in to illustrate process]

Here is a link to my full kml file for Conversion 1 of my Fort Niagara project, which I worked on from 2/14/12 -4/4/12  (figured the dates out based on my Firefox browsing history).

To view it right-click on the above link and save it to your computer, then open the downloaded kml file (requires the Google Earth application).  It won’t work in Google Maps and I have not tried opening it in other programs that use kml files.

Yay!  Project complete, right? Nope.  I was unsatisfied –  Version 1 still seemed print-derived and didn’t take full advantage of the Google Earth platform.  My later efforts effectively render Conversion 1 obsolete, so I will not be developing it further.

In future posts I’ll describe some of the  shortcomings inherent in Conversion 1 of my Fort Niagara project and how I have tried to address them.

– Andrew Taylor 8/3/12


Categories: Fort Niagara Project
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