The Long Tailer: Recreating 1865 Braidwood, Ulladulla, Majors Creek, Araluen, Crookwell and The Australian Alps

 With the completion of our last feature film, DarkAelf Studios is now moving on to film the story of the Long Tailor in Unreal Engine. The film will try to cut through the fog of the inquest into his supposed death. I wrote a series of short stories about this many years ago, but since then folk in the Snowy and Ulladulla have helped filled in the pieces. 

As time permits, I also intend to start filming a couple of novels - including Three Wishes and Catalyst - using the Unreal Engine.

To do the stories surrounding the Long Tailor story justice, we are recreating various Australian towns as they were in the 1860s, 1880s and early 1900s.

1. Braidwood

First cab off the rank is the town of Braidwood, once a regional capital, and in the present day one of a handful of Australian towns that still retain their early shape and many original buildings. 

A first render of the Braidwood Set taking shape

Braidwood sits in the shadow of Mt Gillamatong, and is girt by streams flowing to the nearby Shoalhaven River.  First task is to attempt a recreation of the environment as it existed before settlement. At this stage, we did not attempt to place figures of structure on the set - but those who are interested should visit the Braidwood Museum for a stunning time line of human occupation of this region.

Off-set, our character designers starting to build some of the expected 150 actors in DAZ Studios using the Genesis 8.1 base model (using photographic records - although some of the facial hair will test them to the extreme.) Our wardrobe specialists will shortly start work on clothing and uniforms of the period (and we are searching for examples of everyday clothing - particularly cloth textures). Of invaluable assistance here are the many folk who have started to provide photos and histories of the period and the Braidwood Museum (I will provide a comprehensive list of these folk and their books and records if publicly available as part of the notes on this website). 

We are particularly looking for any photographs taken for the Glaisters Gallery in Sydney by the photographers Millington and Metcalf in the 1860s.

The set designers have been working with a superb survey conducted in 1860 showing the location of every building (stone, brick, wood or calico - together with a series of line drawings) in the town reserve. On the ground we have been rephotographing and measuring the footprints of lost and older buildings and roads, which has attracted some strange looks from passing bikers. 

Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls. A bridge (known as Potters Bridge) on Wallace Street over Gillamatong Creek (which some of you may know as Monkittee or Pound Creek) and the Police Barracks were present at the time of the 1860 survey - as shown in the below shot from our Braidwood set.

Potters bridge 1860, Police Barracks in background

Within a couple of years, the bridge had been swept away (together with 30,000 bricks from Robinsons nearby kiln) and replaced by a weir (on which one of the towns leading citizens was killed by a horse fall). In front of the police barracks, a substantial jail was constructed.  In 1865, this scene would have looked quite different - replete with those serving hard labor breaking stone along the waters edge. That simple example can be multiplied a hundred fold - and sometimes it feels like the map changes day by day.

Gradually, place-holder assets are being replaced by low-rez models based on the 1860 survey (as a side-possibility, the 3D meshes might be printed and colored using a 3D printer). Hi-rez building assets (those in which scenes will be shot for the film) will be scanned and render using photometric (3D mesh derived from hundreds of photos taken from different angles) or Gaussian-splat (emerging particle based 3D models) techniques.

The below are some of the low rez models starting to populate the Braidwood set.

Police Barracks before the move in 1864 to a reserve near the Court House ~1860

Braidwood Dispatch (far left), the Joint Stock Bank (far right) and the Commercial Hotel (Braidwood Hotel) (foreground)

Royal Mail (as at 1900)

Taylors Cottage

Preliminary Streetscape 1860 Mackellar Street looking west from Wallace

Royal Hotel 1860 (now with alterations, the Museum)

This is a long term project involving many people -if you are interested in more info please write (details on my profile page.)

My thanks particularly to Andrew Svanberg Hamilton, Art Director, Quixel at Epic Games working from Stockholm, Sweden (for the foliage resources), and the superb 3D mesh designer Voloshenko working from Kiev, Ukraine (for the bridge and doors).


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