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Ben Delaney,
For Immediate Release:
November 15, 2004

Digital Element Donates Architectural Animation of Oakland’s Municipal Boathouse Rehabilitation.

The Virtual Boathouse, valued at over $20,000, allows planners and public to better understand and comment on proposed rehabilitation.

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Oakland, California – Digital Element, the Oakland developer of WorldBuilder, a software tool used to create ultra-realistic landscapes for virtual environments, has donated to the people of Oakland through Rotary an interactive “Virtual Boathouse” model, valued at more than $20,000, that presents the proposed renovation to the Oakland Municipal Boathouse and the surrounding grounds. The $6-million boathouse project is slated for completion in the Summer of 2006.

In 2002, Oakland voters approved Measure DD, which established the Lake Merritt Master Plan, which includes several projects intended to make the lake and parks around it more accessible, and to provide a unified design theme for the lake area. The Municipal Boathouse, built in 1908 and enlarged in 1913, is one of the buildings that will be returned to near its original design. In order to visualize the proposed modifications to the building, parking, and landscaping Digital Element’s Worldbuilder Pro software has been used to build and interactive walk-around of the as-yet to be completed Boathouse project, with an emphasis on the exterior plantings and amenities.

Lake Merritt, the “Jewel of Oakland”, is one of the largest urban lakes in the United Sates. It has been host to Olympic Rowing Trails, a sailing club, the annual Dragon Boat Races, a few genuine Venetian Gondolas, complete with red-strip shirted gondoliers, and an amazingly large flock of fat and sassy Canadian geese. It is home to Children’s Fairyland and a large and impressive collection of Bonsai. Lake Merritt is served by two early 1900’s boathouses, the Sailing Boathouse and the Municipal Boat House. Measure, DD provides more than $198 million in funding to polish the jewel, restoring the sparkle of an earlier era.

The firms of Murakami and Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT, San Francisco) is responsible for the Municipal Boathouse rehabilitation, with associate John R. Gibbs handling the landscape architecture. He worked with Digital Element to coordinate the landscaping in the Virtual Boathouse with the actual plan, after Don McClure, President of Digital Element, Inc. and Vice President of the Piedmont-Montclair Rotary Club offered his company’s expertise to create the Virtual Boathouse. Steve Rothenberg, founder of 3Depot, a ??-based architectural rendering firm, donated his time in project coordination.

“As a Rotarian, I believe its part of our duty as citizens to use our professional skills to better our community through vocational service. Digital Element believes the greatest service it can provide to the community is to give the people of Oakland the tools they need to have an informed opinion about this wonderful public effort.” Said Don McClure, President of Digital Element “Reading architectural plans takes a certain expertise, but everyone can walk through the Virtual Boathouse and see for themselves what the city plans to do.”

The Virtual Boathouse will be used to present the project at an Oakland City Council meeting in January, at a time to be determined.

The world of the Virtual Boathouse was created using a combination of Digital Element’s commercial technology, which integrate with other standard software packages. Using Digital Element’s Verdant technology, artists created custom models of the plants in the area, which were added to the landscape, which itself was generated using WorldBuilder Pro from elevation data provided by WRT. Artists used a popular 3D modeling package to create the model of the rehabilitated Boathouse and integrated it seamlessly into the scene using WorldBuilder’s unique communication technology. The finished model can be viewed on a large screen by a group, or seen on a standard computer monitor.
Visitors to the Virtual Boathouse are provided a guided tour of the area. Walking along the multi-use path, they see realistic plants and trees, that show how the grounds will look after the project is completed. The Virtual Boathouse makes it easy appreciate the benefits of moving the parking lot, replanting the landscape, and connecting the building to the water. Many of the same plants specified by the Boathouse’s architect, John Galen Howard, well known for his designs of many buildings on the UC Berkeley campus, are included in the rehabilitation plan, and in the virtual environment.

About Digital Element
Digital Element, Inc. develops and publishes high-end tools and plug-ins that recreate nature on the computer screen. Their products are used by 3D artists, architects, game designers, developers of interactive training materials, and dedicated hobbyists around the world. WorldBuilder Pro and WorldBuilder Genesis, stand-alone packages that create 3D scenes and animation, are industry leaders for detail, power, and ease of use, and exchange data with popular 3D modeling programs. Digital Element's Photoshop and After Effects/Final Cut Pro plug-ins, including Aurora, Verdant, and Modelshop, allow Adobe users to create compelling nature effects easily within 2D applications. Digital Element may be reached at www.digi-element.com, or info@digi-element.com.

About 3Depot
3Depot was founded in 2004 by Steve Rothenberg specializes in architectural and civil renderings using a variety of software packages, including Digital Element’s WorldBuilder Pro for landscaping. 3Depot supplies project management, custom project design, and has an extensive US-based computer network for creating high-definition scenes. 3Depot can be reached at ____ address -- steve@3depot.com


Note to Editors: Photos of the Virtual Boathouse are available on request, as are more information on the project and WorldBuilder Pro.


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