January 8

Visualizing Weather Data and Imagery with Unity 3D & VFX Graph

We are excited to share this unique use-case with weather data. All development and instructional credit goes to Baran Kahyaoglu. Follow along with his original blog here.

At AerisWeather, we’re constantly monitoring our social feeds to see what kind of unique and cool weather data applications our fans and customers are coming up with. One in particular caught our eye when Baran Kahyaoglu of MapBox shared this tweet:

Originally intended for a sci-fi map project, Baran combined our cloud forecast mapping layers with the power of Unity 3D’s Visual Effect Graph. By highlighting our easy-to-use Map Builder tool, he has taken an innovative approach to transforming our 2-dimensional weather data imagery into an interactive 3-dimensional display suited for any number of applications. By manipulating our imagery, Baran has blazed a path that can be used to extend a number of our unique data sets to 3-dimensional visualizations. With VR/AR/MR growing rapidly in popularity, the opportunities for further development are endless!

Overcoming Challenges in Visualization

Unity has seen widespread adoption among the game development community as well as a number of private enterprise applications. VFX Graph, used to empower users to author next-generation visual effects through its node-based behaviors and GPU-based compute power, is one of the easiest routes to work with particles in such an application. Unfortunately, however, it does not support particle creation based off of a map.

Screenshot of Map with no weather layers on it

Cloud forecast map with transparent background used to spawn the example.

By innovatively creating a sequence that adjusts alpha and scale for individual particles based off of the AerisWeather map tile’s gradient, Baran generated 1000 random particles in an axis-aligned box. This clever approach might seem unintuitive, but clouds require some noise and irregularity to give them the texture and shape needed to feel organic. He notes that ambitious users may need to increase this particle count to fill larger spaces as tile size increases. Doing so effectively allows one to control the density of their cloud display if particle density becomes an issue.

The finished product looks something like the embedded tweet at the top of this article – with your unique setting and mapping layers of course!

Interested in trying it yourself?

Seeking to enrich your 3D application/environment with live and historical weather data? Simply sign up for a free trial of AerisWeather’s robust weather imagery services and follow along with the original post.

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