computer visualization has grown beyond the "gee whiz" stage, according
to Jim Thomson of BP in Houston.
It is becoming
a workaday tool with potential impact in virtually all areas of
the petroleum business, he said.
the state of the art, Thomson has assembled several presentations
for two special AAPG-sponsored sessions at the Offshore Technology
Conference, May 2-5 in Houston. Thomson's co-chair is Manuel Poupon
of Shell International E&P.
said the goal of the session is to show how multiple workers in
the petrotechnical world are using visualization to understand multiple
data types. The tools help speed progress and communicate to diverse
audiences, he said.
to show the business impact of visualization -- it's not just a
parlor trick," he said.
especially with motion, speeds up comprehension of complex geospatial
relationships," he added.
said he sees the business impact of visualization in his work as
a geohazards specialist.
shorten times for installations, enhance planning cycles for drilling
exploratory and appraisal wells and avoid downtime," he said. "We
can present data and train all the workers on a well and show them
areas to be avoided.
do this in the past with maps, of course," he said. "But in a 3-D
environment, you can rotate the data and show it to a multidisciplinary
audience -- scientists, techs and business-oriented types -- and
they can 'get it' in a very rapid time frame."
noted that one presenter, Bob Curtis of Oceaneering International,
"can do virtual installation of all the hardware involved in a deepwater
producer in the Gulf of Mexico," and likened it to using a simulator
for driver training.
do it all 'virtually' until the guy really knows how it all fits
together," he said.
includes solid numbers on how the technology has helped speed installation
times, save money and reduce or eliminate injuries, Thomson said.
Kerry Key of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography is "a good example
of the academic world, which is often on the leading edge of technology,"
Thomson said. "He is taking marine electromagnetic data and combining
it with seismic, merging them and seeing the relationships."
to Thomson, presenters provide a good representation of major companies,
academia and vendors.
good mix," he noted. "It shows interest across the whole spectrum
of the petrotechnical industry -- not just engineering, but geology
and economics, often all together co-rendered in the same scene
... so that relationships can be quickly grasped."
said the technology really began to take off in the late 1990s with
big-budget companies who could hire visualization specialists and
spend $500,000 to $1 million to build a visualization room with
large computers and special hardware and software.
read about a company that's focusing on academics," he said. "For
about $10,000, a PC with dual output video card, software and glasses
and you can be in the 3-D visualization world."
late 1990s, BP and Landmark built a "highly immersive visualization
environment, or 'visionarium,'" Thomson said. Psychology experts
were hired to demonstrate the effectiveness of having diverse audiences
together in a small, darkened theater with curved screen.
dark, nobody's wearing the bars and badges to say whose the general,"
he said. "It's an equalizer. Anybody can call out a question."
of 3-D technology in the petroleum industry "has been fascinating,"
petrotechnical word, it's 'real'; also in pipeline and business.
You can map the flow of energy trades or show the impact of weather
systems on the energy process," he said.
a matter of who's going to think of the next direction to take this
and expand it."
will still serve a purpose, Thomson sees entry into the 3-D realm
becoming more affordable as continuing advances make hardware faster
and cheaper. More flexible and affordable software also will help
move 3-D from the visionarium to the desktop.
he totes visualization tools to conferences and meetings with regulators.
"I can bring information up on a PC to show the impact of what they're
doing and stress safety."
to Thomson, the format -- and the OTC sessions themselves -- are
two special sessions is unusual," he noted. "It's a flag that SEG
(session co-sponsor), OTC and AAPG are recognizing the importance
of this technology."
said OTC officials agreed to relax some requirements to allow the
live, "fly-through" format for the presentations. Instead of a 15-minute
PowerPoint presentation, perhaps with a bit of video, presenters
will show how they work with data day-to-day using a computer and
large screen projection.
change the data, fly around it and let the audience really grasp
it in a 3-D sense," he said.
this year have the option of making their presentations in 3-D stereo
mode. Paradigm Geophysical agreed to supply glasses, similar to
those used in Imax movie theaters, to allow audience members to
view the screen in 3-D.
is similar to the first session Thomson chaired on the topic at
last year's OTC.
'normal' sessions, you saw a speaker, a small table and a staffer
hitting a button on cue to change slides," he said. "We had what
looked like a TV production studio with multiple computers and digital
and analog recording capturing the speakers and the projections.
years ago you saw people using overheads, then slides, then PowerPoint.
Many conferences today will only accept PowerPoint," he said. "In
our opinion, the next phase will be live, fly-through dynamic presentations."
waived a requirement for formal manuscripts from the session's presenters
to allow more interactive presentations. Instead, the presentations
will be recorded and made available in video format on the Internet.
presentations can be viewed at www.webcasting.com/otc.)
worked very effectively for many years and the system works very
well," Thomson said. "It took a little bit of crunching to put the
two formats together, but it worked."