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  • Writer's pictureWaitman Beorn

First steps toward a Digital Janowska: Making a Doughnut

Welcome to the first of hopefully many posts reflecting on the process of creating a digital recontruction of the Janowska camp, funded by the AHRC Research, Development, and Engagement fellowship.

I won't be commencing the formal work until September 2023, but there are lots of moving parts to set up. One of the first things that I have been up to has been interviewing multiple 3D modelling firms in order to determine who will be responsible for creating the digital environment for the camp. (I will be using an architect to create the base architectural models in REVIT).

After having had some very fun and informative conversations, I have realized, as often happens, how much I didn't know about the process (and the cost!) . As always, it's so important to know what questions to ask and this is something that I am learning here as well. Understanding the process of 3D design and rendering is a whole new area for me (and understanding how to manage these processes is one of the goals of my fellowship.) It was amazing to see all of the things that are possible in the world of modeling though.

So, after my initiation into the world of digital environment creation, I decided that the best way to learn about 3D modeling, was, well, learning how to DO 3D modeling. That's what I've been up to recently.

I downloaded Unreal Engine 5 (which is massive and probably won't run on my laptop) and was going to start learning this as it's the engine that we will likely be using. However, some of my Twitter followers suggested learning Blender first, so that's what I did.

Blender is a free, open-source platform that is super powerful (and also super intimidating at first glance). I started by looking on YouTube for tutorials and, ultimately, I found the tutorial by BlenderGuru (aka Andrew Price who you can follow on Twitter here.)

Andrew's tutorial starts at zero knowledge and walks you step-by-step through the process of iced donut. This may seem weird, but, apparently a donut offers lots of training opportunities. I can't prasie this series enough. Now, it IS a bit of a time commitment: 17 episodes at about 30 min each. I made it almost all the way through (I haven't done the animating part yet). The nice thing about this series is that it doesn't try to do everything all at once. Andrew teaches you the basic tools but using the creation of the donut as the vehicle, so you are actually creating something as you learn.

And, at the end of it, I had something that very closely approximates...a donut.

As the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step. I am in no way an expert in 3D modeling, but I've begun to do a bit of a mock-up of the camp which I'll talk about in my next post.

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AE Devereux
AE Devereux
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What do you think of the series "One Third of the Holocaust"? It can be found at The Holocaust Historiography Project website in the Videos section.

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