graham brewDynamic Graphics Inc. produces EarthVision software for 3D structural models, based primarily on well data, surface data, and seismic interpretations. The WellArchitect product is used for well planning and survey management in the context of 3D earth models. More recently the company has developed the popular CoViz 4D software that is used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of diverse surface and subsurface data together with 4D time-variant data along with reservoir simulations. 3D Visualization World magazine recently interviewed Graham Brew, Project Manager for the CoViz 4D product to learn more about the company and that product.




3DVW: Could you please explain how you began your career in 3D and visualization oriented applications and how your work with Dynamic Graphics Inc. began?

GB: My background is in geophysical analysis and interpretation. I previously worked for Chevron analyzing reservoir properties from seismic data. This involved the use of 2D, 3D and 4D data, as we were looking at changes in the geophysical data in response to reservoir conditions.

After leaving Chevron I helped launch the CoViz 4D product at Dynamic Graphics. Geophysical data are only a portion of the types of 3D / 4D data that we commonly deal with in CoViz 4D. I’ve really appreciated working with a broad range of datasets and use-cases whilst at DGI. However, our recent developments in Sim2Seis (forward modeling the seismic response from reservoir properties) have taken me back towards quantitative geophysical analysis.

3DVW: What distinguishes CoViz 4D, WellArchitect, and EarthVision from each other?

GB: Each of the software products from DGI is a standalone product, but they can all work together using shared data and a shared earth model. In very simple terms:

· EarthVision is software for the creation of 3D structural models, based primarily on well data, surface data, and seismic interpretations.

· WellArchitect is software for well planning and survey management: Frequently this well planning is done in the context of a 3D earth model, such as those created via EarthVision.

· CoViz 4D is software for the qualitative and quantitative analysis of diverse surface and subsurface data, with particular emphasis on time-variant (4D) data such as time-lapse seismic data, temporal well logs, and reservoir simulations.

3DVW: Many of our readers wrestle with complex data issues involving data volumes. Can you elaborate on the issue of data volumes that you see in your work and how CoViz 4D can be used to solve some of these bottlenecks?

GB: Several trends are clear in the industries with which we work: Data sets are constantly growing larger and more complex, with more frequent collection rates. And while hardware performance uplifts (especially multiple CPUs, GPUs, and increasing RAM) are helping to keep up in each of these regards, we also have to make our software more capable and adaptable to meet the escalating demands.

Our development goals at DGI are aligned to deliver both increasingly rich functionality, and accommodate increasingly large / complex datasets. For example, in the version of CoViz 4D we are releasing later this year, we can read, display, and manipulate cellular (reservoir simulation) grids between one and two order of magnitude larger than in previous versions of the software.

3DVW: How is LIDAR being used and applied in applications - could you highlight a few examples?

GB: CoViz 4D has been optimized for viewing large LIDAR datasets. We have seen it used in urban landscapes where LIDAR data are used with automated building-extraction routines to map the position and shape of structures, and in geologic environments where LIDAR data are used to map and study rock outcrops. However, the real strength of CoViz 4D lies not in the visualization of LIDAR data alone, but of the integration of LIDAR data with other contextual datasets.

For example, in one project we integrated several LIDAR datasets from the Canadian city of Ottawa. But in addition to the LIDAR data we also incorporated remote sensing imagery, digital elevation models, traffic networks, traditional photography and a host of other datasets to support our objectives. Our clients often find that when working in CoViz 4D it is only when integrating a broad spectrum of contextual data that we get the full value from the individual datasets.

3DVW: Time important to many people involved in 3D related work. How is it important to seismic and geophysical exploration? What benefits can visualization bring to time-related data?

GB: The time-dimension is critically important to many challenges of hydrocarbon development, and resource management in general. Some of the datasets we deal with are intuitively temporal (for example, the dynamic fluid saturation data in reservoir simulations), whereas other datasets are only subtly temporal (for example, a digital elevation model that is changing slowly over time due to the effects of underlying shallow fluid production).

Ultimately we see that the vast majority of the datasets under consideration have at least some temporal component; and it is only when these temporal changes and interactions are fully considered, in a quantitative fashion, can resource managers make the best possible decisions. And the first step is to see the datasets animating, over time, in a single visual environment: These are the areas where CoViz 4D excels.

3DVW: Many industries employ different kinds of technologies in their work flows. Our readers often point out a need for integrating various kinds of data in an integrated fashion. How does CoViz 4D meet this need?

GB: This is exactly were CoViz 4D works best: We have developed data importers for a large range of commonly (and uncommonly!) available data formats. The list of data formats we accommodate grows every month.

Moreover, CoViz 4D visualization is built around a diverse and adaptable set of primitive elements: points, lines, cells, grids, surfaces, volumes and so on. Thus CoViz 4D can offer the ideal environment in which to visualize and analyze a great diversity of data types from a great diversity of sources.

3DVW: Does Dynamic Graphics create tools and technologies for understanding operations in the field or do most users prefer to access and handle data at a later time in the office? Is one approach preferable to the other?

GB: Most typically our software is used in office environments utilizing datasets that have seen some processing and clean-up. However, WellArchitect is often run at rig sites where directional drillers are best-positioned to react to new information from the well bore.

And in one project, for example, CoViz 4D was run on a survey vessel underway on Lake Champlain, to visualize hydrogeological data in near real-time during acquisition. In that case the rapid and collocated analysis could help guide and suggest modifications to the ongoing acquisition campaign.

3DVW: What are Quantitative Visualization methods? Are these methods related to well path visualization?

GB: Quantitative visualization means taking the analysis beyond just qualitative, “pretty pictures”. Almost all the datasets that you see in CoViz 4D have quantitative meaning behind them: Seismic amplitudes, fluid saturations, well log properties, topographic elevations. These datasets often make for stunning visual montages. And there can be great value in just seeing the diverse data rendered and animating in the same spatial and temporal environment.

However, to maximize the value of these very expensive datasets, we have to go beyond the qualitative and into the quantitative domain, meaning numerical comparisons, statistical analysis, and data mining to see the numerical connections between the spatially overlapping, but geometrically diverse, datasets. Well paths are just one of the quantitative datasets that we can accommodate in this way (for example, you can query CoViz 4D to find the value of the seismic data at each point down an intersecting well path).

3DVW: What does the term ‘reservoir management’ mean to you? Can 4D lead to improved reservoir management and could you explain how?

GB: Within the oil and gas industry reservoir management means making the best decisions to maximize the return on investment in your subsurface asset. In general this means maximizing the production of hydrocarbons and minimizing costs, although there are a great many details and complications behind that simple premise!

The reservoir management process is inherently and inextricably a temporal one: Reservoir conditions are changing constantly while the field is under production / injection, infrastructure gets developed, oil prices fluctuate. A huge number of dynamic variables come into play when optimizing reservoir development. So yes, the time-component is a critical one for improved reservoir management.

3DVW: Many in our audience voice a concern to address training and education issues for software and hardware purchases. What can your company do to ease the introduction of these tools and how can users become highly proficient in their use and application more quickly?

GB: DGI appreciates that software, and the data migration and training that may go with it, are a major undertaking and could be a deterrent to usage. CoViz 4D was designed from the ground-up as a “light-touch” installation, meaning that disruptive database migrations and wholesale data reformatting are not required.

The software is centered on an intuitive graphical interface which many users find logical and often adopt without any formal training. For more advanced usage (well-planning, quantitative operations, Sim2Seis, etc.) we offer a variety of training options, most of which are taught in just one day.


For more information: DYNAMIC GRAPHICS, INC.   

Biography Graham Brew:

Graham Brew is the Project Manager for the CoViz 4D product at Dynamic Graphics Inc., and is based at the company headquarters near San Francisco, California. Graham has a B.Sc. in Geophysics from the University of London, and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from Cornell University, New York, where he studied the tectonics of Syria. He has worked as a geophysicist in the mining industry, academia, and in environmental consulting. Before joining DGI he was an Earth Scientist with Chevron Exploration Technology Company in San Ramon, California.