Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) Launch Control Room

WIRED logo MAGAZINE publishes our KP renders in article about this project. Link to the story and interviews.

The Sohae Satellite Launching Station (Tongchang-ri) Launch Control Room project is a Kemp Productions' ongoing collaborative work with partner Nathan Hunt​.

The model, originally built by Nathan as part of an ongoing project exclusive to 38 North, was well researched and his attention to surface detail and construction is excellent. 38 North is a North Korea affairs website run by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies based in Washington, DC.

Five renders were delivered for publication, four of which were designed to match provided reference images for both camera angle and image colouring (reference images presented to match corresponding renders). The fifth image is a VR 360° Panoramic render for publication on 38 North's website.

The VR 360° render took the largest investment of time to set up and execute. With a resolution of 8000 x 4000, model prep, materials and lighting needed the attention to detail to accompany this render.
To see the render on 38th North's website, click here.

"With extra detail put into the reconstruction, we wanted the model to perfectly match photos. Kemp Productions was able to deliver and provide breathtaking results that did our model justice." - Nathan Hunt

The 360° VR Panoramic View

Adam Rawnsley’s December 06, 2016 WIRED magazine article is titled “A GRAND TOUR OF NORTH KOREA'S SECRETIVE SPACE COMMAND CENTER”. 38 North and Nathan were interviewed on the subject of 3d models and the benefits of the images produced for the ongoing visualisation work, especially the new Sohae Launch Station’s new Launch Room model and renders.

Images selected by 38 North and Nathan to be used for the article were made by Kemp Productions. But, they published a couple of our renders that were not a part of the original delivered set. And these shots, made after the fact with the artist’s view in mind (new room presentations), we are especially proud of.

Back story: The original five delivered renders occupied a level of concentration in replicating the “yellowish” tinge that predominated the reference photos as well as their perspective camera angles and overall look. This was appropriate for the goal of simulating similar ambience recorded in the provided reference photos.

But, our "Director's Cut" versions present the model without colour matching and perspectives of the reference photos, to better present both the collaborative work on the model and KP's lighting of this fairly impressive room.

For this, we were happy to discover that the article used the anticipated renders as well as selections from our own Director’s cut versions.

Read the entire WIRED Magazine interview here.

Kemp Productions’ responsibility for rendering the project was initially to take the model and create a complex, organised version for replicating real world lighting for rendering. This process involved isolating all surface geometry into solid groups, geometry with shared materials into managable components and individual smaller groups, reversing all inverse geometry so that materials rendered correctly and principally, finalising a managable model file that was render ready.

Both Nathan and I use the same rendering software called Thea Render, a fantastic rendering software and perfect for projects such as this. However, being such a large room with such a high quantity of artificial light usage, the biggest hurdle that challenged the model’s lighting was the rendering software itself. In this case, the working version that both of us were using at the time had (unknown to us) a known issue of creating noise around artificial lights. Battling this “bug” in this project, and winning over that challenge, was paramount.

The final solution to eliminating the “artifacts” or “fireflies” was to transform the entire model’s ceiling into a false ceiling with true roof ceiling above with light holes that allowed “virtual” sunlight to enter

through the top, emitting direct sunlight within the room where the cove lights are. These sun wells above the ceiling allowed ambient sunlight to simulate the lighting of the room representative of what is seen in the source reference photos.

Subsequently, replacing the artificial cove lighting with real world parameters of sun light, ambient and reflected light bouncing off room surfaces solved 85% of the noise issues. The rest of the noise being created by the remaining artificial lights was diminished by selecting varied IES lamps and values while swapping out wall materials, susceptible to the issue, with textures that match but evaded problems.

Overall, this large room ended as a success for both of us as the renders achieved the first goal of simulating the ambience and views (or as close to as possible) as the original source reference images. For that, we are proud of the delivered product.


"You can have lighting. Then you can have lighting that brings a room to life and adds that extra bit that makes the difference. Kemp productions is
able to take our scene, light and adjust the model to bring that extra bit of realism for a presentation that requires that special "WOW factor".
- Nathan J Hunt, Reconstruction specialist for 38 North reconstruction project.