If you want to get very close to the surface then you could use 2 or 3 levels of detail. For example when you get close enough for the pixellation on the current image to come through you switch to a higher resolution image of just the area that you want to see. I’d look around for some satellite photos of the areas you want to zoom in on. It will be a bit of a challenge to switch between the lods without the change being too obvious. One possible way when the camera is still out in space would be to have the sun come around and flare the camera so you momentarily can’t see the planet clearly. At that point you’d switch to the close up model of the planet and continue on with the animation. Once the camera gets into the atmosphere a simpler way would be for it to travel through the clouds and switch to an even closer perhaps 3D model for very close up animations. The travelling through the cloud switch is pretty cliched and can be seen in many films and 3d intros to games such as the intro to Civ4 if I remember it rightly.
Darg’s idea’s a good one - having varying levels of detail. However, the problem is implementing it. It needs a name though… well, it’s got to be something Earth, I guess… and you need somehow to represent the way that you can view many, many places with it… yes, that’s it! Google Earth!
Thanks, peoples. I hadn’t thought of that in this one, I didn’t really want to have a zoom in type of thing, I am simply going to have a combat sortie of sci-fi-ish craft and things. Ever notice how much better off Sci-Fi channel would be if the CG artists were as good as many people in this forum? %|