West Cumbria Mining | Animating the Coal Mine


Digital coal mine animation and planning application vantage points

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West Cumbria Mining | Animation & CGI’s

West Cumbria Mining wanted to visualise there coal mine to aid a planning application. Part of the planning process was to show the environmental impact. The client recognised the importance of enabling people to understand their vision.

At the start of the project, the client supplied plan drawings with blocked out in a sketch up data a PowerPoint explaining the mining method and photography.

Working the initial blocked out sketch up data and the plan drawings we 3d modelled the full coal mine from the interior, exterior, rail loading facility and underground mining. There was a mixture of techniques used to build the 3d geometry including polygon modelling, displacement, procedural modelling, digital sculpting and scattering.

Procedural modelling was used heavily for the walls of the buildings and creating the hexagonal honeycomb framework for the dome as seen within the mine internals views. The landscape required digital sculpting to achieve the final results. The sculpted result was later boolean to integrate the polygon modelled roads. L-system’s was used to create the plant’s reference from the Latin names then scattering techniques to distributed across the digital sculpted landscapes and bunds.

There was a mixture of highly detailed materials and standard materials when creating various scenes depending on the requirements. For example, an animation would not require complex materials for objects in the background.

The vantages points were a mixture of the client’s photography and 3d we created and retouched into the photography. During the process, there were multiple variations of different styles and layouts provided and planting schemes, for example, visualising the bund.

The CGI animation shows the full process of a coal mine from start to finish. The mining machinery shown within the animation included road header, bolter miner, shutter car. To demonstrate the underground coal mining procedure 3D mechanical animation was required. This part of the project included advanced Visual Effects (VFX) such as destruction, dust, water spray, coal dropping via hoppers, technical rigging and more.

The coal leaves the underground mine via the conveyor system leading to the wash plant and stockpile shed. The stockpile falls into hoppers which takes the coal via a network of underground conveyor finally arriving at the loading bay showing the freight trains loading the coal for delivery.

X-ray style within the wash plant was the most effective way to technically show the underground systems in a simple way any audience could understand.

Using graphic design techniques to aid the 3d elements as you will see throughout the animation 2D elements help the viewer have a sense of there location within the mine at all times. Using text overlay’s, consistent branding, maps and simple 2d animations to achieve this result.

The final animation and visual was not only used for the planning applications but also event days, online articles, ITV and BBC news on the tv and more.

View the 3D modeling behind the digital ice cream imagery

Examples of the vantage point visuals for the planning application 14 created in total

3D Wireframe of the overview of the CGI Coal Mine

Bolterminer still images taken from animation

Rail Loading Facility

Technical Illustration of the vertical transfer point

Rail Loading Facility loading the coal

Wash plant CGI interior

Outbye Junction Area still taken from animation

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