Best approach to making a planet earth from space effect

Hi guys,

Having watch @simonkjones tut on making planets for space shots and also that of @AxelWilkinson I have a question. With something recognisable like earth or the moon, would the sphere effect still work? What type of image would give the best effect if yes to the first one. By that I mean the shape of image. 

Would a 3d object be a better option?

Thanks guys





  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Any of the standard Earth or Moon textures you find with a Google Search will work either as a Diffuse map on a 3D sphere model or with the sphere effect. An image with an aspect ratio of 2:1 will wrap best (ie 4000px wide, 2000 px tall). 

    The sphere effect doesn't respond to 3D lights, so a model might be better. The advantage of the sphere effect is being able to animate the textures, like if your planet was built from fractal noise. Either one works and both are really easy to set up, so try both and see what you prefer. 

  • Majahr has a pretty good tutorial for Earth with a project file

    The project should be on this page

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hah, I was just coming back to paste that link! Swiped it, @Aladdin4d ;

  • Thanks guys

    I'll try what you suggested.  @Aladdin4d I had seen that tutorial. I have to admit the result wasn't to my taste though and I don't have c4d. I'll check it out again though.

  • I'll let you post it on this thread

    I think @LIFE_LEADERSHIP would be interested in it too :)

  • Assuming you have Pro, and thus 3D model import, The Hitfilm Celestial model pack has an Earth in it.

  • @DreamArchitect The sphere he created in C4D is part of the project download so you don't really need a 3D program and you can use textures more to your liking not to mention if you're using 4 Pro you get to use the new Cook Torrance goodness

  • edited January 2016

    Thanks @NormanPCN (I have 4pro yes, @Triem23 and @Aladdin4d. I'll check all those options out

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    And the Earth @NxVisualStudio built is nice... And if you had any trouble with setup, he's the kind of guy who will help you get running. 

    Download link in description is the same as the one NormanPCN posted above.

  • One thing about the Celestial Pack Earth is that it is high detail and has a bit of overhead. The Earth "sphere" is not a smooth sphere. It is bumpy for the continents and such. It does not simulate depth with a bump/normal map, but has real depth in the surface geometry.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Tony specifically built them that way for Hitfilm 3. It does mean they are sizeable assets. Since Hitfilm 3 didn't have the maps he just built it. 

  • Thanks again guys. That earth looks good


  • HarHar
    edited January 2016

    One of the very first things I ever did in Hitfilm some time ago was this Earth-in-space shot for a music video teaser. I used an LWO file of a sphere and then wrapped a real image of Earth around it as its Diffuse Texture file. In the main music video (which still hasn't been completed yet) where there's a much longer shot that very slowly descends closer towards it, I also put that sphere within a slightly larger mostly transparent one of just clouds, which very slowly rotated and could be seen as you came lower towards it.

    One of these days I really should finish the thing... LOL

  • Unless you are close, the detailed geometry of the Celestial Pack Earth model is not likely to show. You can always just use the ATM model which is just a sphere. It is still a high facet sphere but nowhere near the detailed Earth model.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Har I remember that shot. Always liked the  Mayan/Incan-inspires symbols. 

    I do want to point out that 2D images can work as well. Earth and Moon in this sequence (in-progress)  are just pictures on 3D planes. ;

  • NormanPCN the ATM model is for anything that comes to mind, clouds/Troposphere,Stratosphere,Ionosphere and so on, the earth with the hight map or physical 'bump' was designed to be used with the ATM, the ATM would be the sea the bumpy earth would be land, Alternatively the ATM sphere is also for planets and not strictly for just the earth set up, in the video @Triem23 posted the earth in that was just the ATM model ,

    Back in HF3P no Hight or Bump maps existed so the models where made for High geometry displacement meaning they where High Poly but also Optimised to work with gl without causing unwanted hang, the aim was to have models with out rendering/draw excess topology. 

    The testing;

    A machine that had 4GB of ram, 512MB graphics card, and a duel core processor,

    if the models didn't render in almost real time on the specs above then the model simply went into the bin.

    All the models work flawlessly on the above specs,

    Could you define what you are refereeing to 'has a bit of overhead.'
    cheers bud :)


    Any issues chap then get in touch :) also the steps in Majah's tutorial relate closely to the earth in this model pack, just don't use the bumpy earth as there is no need for it now 4P is out :)  


  • @NXVisualStudio

    I've tried the ATM model to layer in the clouds texture with the bumpy Earth model.I think I used 100.5% scale on ATM to keep the clouds above the highest bumps on the bumpy Earth model.

    By overhead I was referring to the higher number of facets, which causes higher memory consumption relatively speaking.

    "...just don't use the bumpy earth as there is no need for it now 4P is out"

    No need? There is no bump/normal map in the pack. Even so, I only see any differences with space station like close views of Earth.

  •  Here is a super dumb question. . do any of the 3d models contain fine details of the surface like Google Earth type detail? Some of the AE templates I've seen out on the market sold specifically to do a zoom in from space to any point on earth seem to be animated but have super detailed maps of the surface once the zoom is complete... any thoughts? 

  • @NormanPCN It was designed for HitFilm 3 Pro so there wont be any Normal or Bump maps included, "...just don't use the bumpy earth as there is no need for it now 4P is out" Yeah, just google search Earth Normal map and Job done, 

    If I remember correctly, the limit I set was for a Maximum of 80,000 faces to ensure that later down the line while in post this issue didn't occur with memory, and that was on the minimum test bench,

    This might be a new issue, could you tell me the spec's  of your machine?

    also If you have HF4P then don't bother with the bumpy earth just use ATM and download the normal maps from google, However it might be a good idea to invest in a map editor, the one I'm using is ShaderMap 3.


    the best person for that question is  @Triem23 as he has done something very close, 

    In unreal engine you can set the textures to update to a Value depending on how far you are from the topology, the closer you get the topology the more detailed the texture gets by loading in the new texture sets, It's likely to be how google earth works, but Triem will have a good answer for that one as he has done something relating to this from the Andrew Kramer tutorial :) 

  • Triem23 You should post (Timing test 12 a) on the Facebook page, I can schedule that to be posted at 4PM tomorrow if you want?   

  • An earlier promo demonstrating the model pack 
    All done using my previous machine;
    ATi HD Radeon 5850 1GB GDDR5
    8GB DDR3 1600MHz

  • @NXVisualStudio My specs are i7 4770k 4Ghz, 16GB ram, AMD 7950 GPU ,3GB ram. I'm not having problems and I would hope not given my specs. I just noticed the bumpy Earth had a lot of facets. HF lists the bumpy Earth at a touch over 1 million facets for the bumpy earth. 250k for ATM.

    Wicked cool about the ability to use some downloaded Earth normal map. I DL'd one but it had ocean floor detail which I would rather not have, even though it looks cool. I'll try some others. I like that your pack has the clouds, water and lights as separate maps we can optionally setup.

  • NormanPCN My mistake! *800,000, sorry about that, 
    It would be nice to see at least 8k support for models so we can make the shots that are close up a bit more detailed, yes it will come at a cost with processing,  @Ady HINT ;)

  • NormanPCN And again it begins...

  • edited January 2016

    Yes, I have enjoyed zooming in on the Earth model, and then aww. I've got no problem getting more ram, if necessary, to handle a BigA texture. Yipee is better than aww.

    The spammers do seem to keep a strict schedule. Starting somewhere around 7pm US Pacific time (UTC -8) every day.

  • NormanPCN I think we are currently stuck at a maximum of 4k on models, I agree with the 'aww' and yeah I would go as far as going to 64GB, I might do after February.

    on the subject of spam, I might have a chat with @DanielGWood and see if we can arrange a remote solution to changing the rules for the time being.  

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @Life_Leadership Ben, as others have noted Hitfilm has a 4096px wide texture limit, but, even then, no model will have Google Earth levels of detail. Typically the ground/orbit pull is a series of match dissolves. Go to the tutorials page on and look for "Earth Zoom." the LA to Orbit shot in my Doctor Who sequence, posted above, uses that technique. The only change I needed to make in Hitfilm is scaling my master control point to 10000% before linking. Looks like AE uses a couple more significant digits after the decimal point than Hitfilm. My version used 14 images. You can always grab stills from Google Maps or Google Earth. To fly from point A to B one could scroll around taking screenshots, then mosaic everything together in 2D/3D space. A bit tedious to set up, but not too bad. 

  • Thats what i figured...,well I already finished the zoom effect and this is what I came up with. . I created this for a Real Estate opening presentation as a favor... it's a star wars spoof opening.. tell me what you think. . it would have been nice to have a template to quickly render a zoom but I did this from scratch.  you don't have to watch entire shot although it's very short. .  I built the Star field based on the help you guys offered ( used the tutorial ) then I used Google Earth pro to create an image sequence that I put together in HF and rendered in reverse ( I started from the ground and zoomed up to the sky initially )... I combined this with a stock video of Earth from above..then the zoom

  of Excellence opener final 2016.mp4?dl=0 

  • Here's the second clip I created for this  Real Estate presentation. .. The broker loves super hero's so I did a quick spoofy opening where I turned him into superman.... I used a little combination of new school and old school Superman themes... ALL done with HF.. :)... what do u think? ? of Excellence bloopers and dedication.mp4?dl=0

  • @LIFE_LEADERSHIP If you did this as a favor you're being seriously underpaid!

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