Foster Findlay - from medical imagery to gigabyte seismics

UK medical imagery specialists has signed with Landmark Graphics for the integration of its 3D imaging technology, C_Images with Landmark’s EarthCube. PDM learns more from FFA’s Susan Findlay.

Landmark has signed a multi-year agreement with Newcastle, UK-based Foster Findlay Associates (FFA). The agreement involves the integration of FFA’s automated 3-D image processing technology into Landmark’s EarthCube.


Landmark president and CEO, John Gibson said "These new, automated image processing technologies from FFA will help us provide our customers with workflow benefits. Customers will be able to make better technical and business decisions throughout the E&P and production phases of an asset."


From rapid reconnaissance of 3-D seismic data, to identification of prospective zones and property modeling and simulation, this new technology expands Landmark’s Collaborative Volume Interpretation (CVI) suite. The FFA module provides capabilities for region (voxbody) detection, voxel-based arithmetic, smoothing and a variety of image processing techniques.


The addition of this new technology is said to enhance interpretation workflows, enabling interactive manipulation of multiple seismic attributes in order to infer lithology, stratigraphy and other properties.


Landmark’s Murray Roth commented "The value of Collaborative Volume Interpretation extends well beyond 3-D visualization by enabling customers to integrate and interpret multidisciplinary data, in support of collaborative decision making.


Our customers are demanding more than niche 3-D visualization capabilities, and we are committed to delivering the full value of Collaborative Volume Interpretation with technologies like advanced image processing from Foster Findlay Associates."

Medical imagery

"Drawing from our experience in medical imaging, FFA has established R&D partnerships with leading oil and gas operators and is now delivering revolutionary 3-D image processing and analysis tools to the oil and gas industry," said FFA chairman, Campbell Fox. "We are very pleased to be working with Landmark to introduce this technology to mainstream interpreters and believe the relationship will provide lasting benefits to the oil and gas industry."


PDM learned more of FFA from partner Susan Findlay.

PDM - How did FFA get started in hi-end imagery?

Findlay - FFA started work in medical imagery for Joyce Loebel (part of Vickers group). In 1993, Shell Research found out about the work FFA was doing in the field of confocal micrography, a type of medical imagery involving datasets of a size comparable to 3D seismics. At the time Shell were working on domain-specific 3D data processing, but wanted to build this on top of a generic 3D data manipulation framework which handled all the paging of data in and out of memory.

PDM - what was the technology that Shell outsourced?

Findlay - The technology transfer from medical imagery came in the form of a C++ library - "C_Images" which we had developed. C_Images can handle extremely large data volumes - 20GB of 8 bit data is realistic, but we can go up to 1000 GB!

PDM - What sort of processing does C_Images perform?

Findlay - We offer generic algorithms for  3D neighborhood filtering of voxels and ad-hoc transformations of data. Key to the toolkit was the ability to isolate and manipulate a "region of interest" - an arbitrary 3D shape which could be either a brain tumor or a sand body.

PDM - do you have other oil or service clients?

Findlay - FFA later began to offer the C_Images functionality to users of Paradigm’s successful Voxelgeo product. The trick used here was to find out how VoxelGeo stored data in memory, and to work on the volume data there. This avoided going through the API, and getting too closely involved with other developers. This lets us minimize "IPR leakage."

PDM - what new functionality will Landmark clients see from the new deal?

Findlay - The deal with Landmark adds the C++ processing functions to volume visualization within EarthCube. The original C_Images library has been wrapped with TCL_TK scripting and productized as plug-in "FFA Applets." These are launched from an icon within EarthCube.

PDM - can end-users tweak the Applets?

Findlay - The scripting approach allows ad-hoc attributes to be computed on the fly - using the latest algorithm that the research department may have dreamed up. The Domain Experts Prototyping tool allows an algorithm to be tested and eventually hard-wired into a new Applet by FFA.

PDM - what’s next?

Findlay - We see great opportunities in porting 3D data management to parallel computing environments. Our data management strategy has anticipated such IT developments.



For more information on FFA’s Applet technology check out the FFA  website and download the excellent PowerPoint show.

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