An Evansville native spent more than a year making a digital replica of his hometown for nothing but pride.
Now, Randall Crane, 47, is looking for help so his work wins $25,000 prize for local schools from Google Inc., and win the Internet search engine’s “Model Your Town” contest.
“Google picks the finalists,” he said, “but now it’s a popularity contest,”
Voting in the contest started Sunday and continues until May 1. Evansville is one of six finalists chosen from a pool of more than 200 entries.
The work, which was created using the computer programs Google SketchUp and Google Earth, was “very time-consuming,” said Crane, a professional web designer currently living in Chicago. Each of the 182 buildings Crane included in the model took between one and four days to replicate.
“SketchUp is a software program that allows you create buildings and structures. You basically go in and look at the satellite imagery,” Crane said. “You can see the footprint of the building and build it up. Then you take photos and apply them as textures so they have a realistic appearance.
Crane’s video entry heavily features Evansville’s Downtown — taking the viewer on a minute-long tour of Crane’s recreated city, starting its bird’s-eye tour near Casino Aztar before looping around toward the Ford Center and Central Library. Crane then gives a street-level view of Main Street.
“The Downtown area is a very eclectic place to be. You’ve got really old buildings and you’ve got really new ones,” Crane said. “It’s just an interesting place.”
The most difficult building to create, according to Crane? The Ford Center because of its intricate design.
Crane said he was working on his submission even before he knew about the current contest because he wanted Evansville to be well-represented on Google Earth. While he admits it’s fun to simply “zoom” around digital cities from around the globe, Crane views the site as a valuable educational and marketing tool. He credited his pride in his hometown to his late father Paul Crane, a former residential developer.
“I wasn’t doing it for the competition, he said. “I was doing it to put Evansville on the map because I love to be able to zoom in on New York City or Chicago and see how the cities are constructed and zoom around get the feel for it.”
The other five finalists are Lowell, Mass.; Getaria, Spain; Leominster, United Kingdom, and two cities in Poland: Tourn and Zielona Gora. The winner will be announced on May 15.