materialising Sheffield - re-presenting the past  
steel ingots


Stage 1:
Looking at the evidence

Stage 2:
Planning the model

Stage 3:
Making the model

Stage 4:

Stage 5:
Collecting textures

Stage 6:
Rendering the model

Stage 7:
Adding 3d elements

Stage 8:
Adding animation

Stage 9:

Stage 10: Produce the final model



At this stage in the reconstruction, it was possible to assess the suitability of the textures collected at the Abbeydale site and of the historical details incorporated into the crucible furnace interior. These were generally found to be very satisfactory within the constraints of the medium.

Given a greater budget and timescale, it may have been possible to include a wider range and complexity of environmental details (such as the different furnace tools, fixtures and fittings) and a more extensive portrayal of the casting process. However, for the purposes of a short virtual reality reconstruction of the buildings and their context, a simplified scenario was quite appropriate, conveying the design, materiality and atmosphere of Huntsman's furnace building with great clarity.

The use of textures sampled from what is generally agreed to be the closest surviving example of a crucible furnace in date and construction proved to be an extremely effective aid to visualisation. The semi-rural domestic scale of the buildings and their reliance upon locally sourced materials are immediately apparent in the rendered model. Correctly-scaled details taken from comparatively large surface areas help to avoid visible tiling patterns and lend the model a convincingly "hand built" appearance.

The final choice of scenes for the thirty second animated sequence successfully portrays the working environment in a concise sequence of vignettes, gradually moving out from the small scale of the steel melting process itself, to the wider context of the furnace yard, its associated structures and their location in the green countryside that still surrounded the town of Sheffield in the late eighteenth century.






Copyright Red Star Studios and HRI online

illustration: stills from furnace building