Why a 3D Topographic Model?
I’ve been asked to produce a walk-through animation of a reconstructed archaeological site that shows the landscape setting of important buildings, and how these buildings constrained the movement of people. Reconstructing the buildings is pretty simple, with lots of reference material available. However, the 3D topographical model of the landscape is much trickier, made worse by not having any digital elevation data, only paper maps with contours.
Drawing contours with height attributes is easy in ArcGIS, but when I was asked to create an animation, I had no idea how to get the GIS shapefile data into my 3d software for animating. I figured there must be a way, and sure enough, ArcGIS has all the tools for converting and exporting a shapefile that can then be opened in pretty much any 3d software package.