April 2, 2009

AE 3D Earths with & without 'Knowing' lava

There are several tutorials to help you start to construct a rotating 3D Earth in After Effects, but do you know which direction to spin things to avoid the Sun rising from the West?

With Knowing Earth, MaxAfter gives you the project and a good start how to make lava cracks and falling particles similar to a shot in the current movie Knowing. (Quick tangent: see The Nicolas Cage Movie Plot Generator.)

If you want your Earth a bit more refined, Creative Cow has a tutorial that you can peruse, Creating a Realistic 3d Earth using only AE. In this video tutorial, Michael Park uses only effects built into After Effects: "Special attention will be given to combining multiple instances of the CC Sphere effect to create unique layers with different specular properties for the land and water masses, as well as creating lights from urban centers on the night side of the earth."

Maltaannon is also in the ring of 3D Earth tutorials with the variously titled Advanced 3D Planets / 3D Solar System. He planned to create a scaled solar system in 3D that you could fly through, so the 3D Earth tutorial might be just a small piece of the bigger project.

Of course there are several more. Jonas Hummelstrand (with map and texture links), The Genesis Project (with help from Aharon Rabinowitz), and Andrew Kramer also have planet Earth tutorials with projects. Kramer's Video Copilot crew has a variety of planet and related tutorials with projects. You may even find out something new in the old Total Training teaser Globe Grid. Earth zooms are also popular, and tutorials are provided by Video Copilot and Digital Arts.

There's also a tutorial for Apple Motion from Timesaver Tutorials for those stuck in a Final Cut Studio world, Rotating Earth. There are many more of these sorts of tutorials, even by NASA (in AE) using their own images, and some for Google Earth Pro.

You can even do 3D earths in Photshop CS4 Extended. Russell Brown CS4 shows how using real 3D objects (download textures here) in a more advanced tutorial he called Advanced 3D Eclipse Animation.

Most of the projects include textures but there are alternatives. Ever-popular Earth textures (various strings attached) can be found at JHT's Planetary Pixel Emporium (with C4D tutorials), Unearthed Outdoors True Marble-free version, and NASA's Blue Marble Next Generation.

Update: VideoCopilot has a tutorial similar to the one by MaxAfter, Dead Planet, as well as a calmer The Blue Planet in 3D.

Update 2: More earthy textures.

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