Space-to Atmosphere (and maybe to surface) sequence?

Hi all,

I was thinking about an effect where you would travel from space, through the atmosphere of a planet, and possibly even to a detailed surface of the planet.

I’m not sure if the detailed surface part is possible, data would probably get too big.

I think the atmosphere zoom in part is possible though.

I’m thinking of something like THIS.

For the effect, I was thinking I could make a smaller sphere for the surface of the planet, and then a VERY big sphere for the atmosphere (because the zoom in sequence has to be fairly long).

What I’m not sure about is how I would tell the computer that the space between the big sphere and the small sphere should be atmosphere; i.e., I want clouds and such to fly by the camera every so often so you know you’re in the atmosphere.

Lastly, is this even possible with Blender? :evilgrin:

Search this site for volumetric materials. Volumetric materials can be processor/time intensive so be prepared for a long wait but the results are really worth it.


Sooo…is that “yes,” it is possible with Blender?

I think the best bet would be to use compositing techniques to achieve this. There would be two or three different blender shots at varying distances, and just blend them together in Blender’s sequencer (or compositor).

Clouds and that could also be done via post-processing. Volumetrics will add a considerable amount of time to even a single image render, making animations without a huge farm out of the question, but similar (possibly better-looking) effects can be done with intelligent compositing.

At most, you need 5 shots:
High Orbit: 1/2 the surface of the Earth will be visible, as well as atmospheric falloff. Terrain detail is not visible.

Low Orbit: A much smaller area of the Earth’s surface will be visible, but in greater detail. The same planet-wide image maps may not be sufficiently detailed. Take a look at NASA’s blue marble images - they have huge 1.3 gig downloads containing very high-res satellite imagery. They’re split into 8 sectors, too, making it easier to load in a computer. You’ll probably only need one, but depending on your location you may need to splice up to four of these together to center it on your area of interest. Depending on camera angle, you might also have to worry about how the atmosphere at the horizon looks. Shading from large terrain features might be visible (large mountain ranges).

High Altitude: Again, more and more detail in a smaller area. The look of the atmosphere and clouds will start to change, and terrain features will be more visible. High-altitude clouds (cirrus wisps) will be passed through, but they’re too faint to see much as you pass through.

Low Altitude: The terrain really starts to pop out, and the area you’re zooming into will start to be visible. The camera will pass through the most clouds on this layer. Compositing just a cloudy fog onto the camera will give the impression of passing through clouds without the insane rendertimes of volumetrics.

Landscape: This is the final shot. It starts of as a wide establishing shot, then finally tracks into your final location. The clouds and sky are firmly overhead, and can be ignored, or just 2D on a skybox.

Of course, you can exclude or include whichever shots you don’t think you need.

Thanks a lot, that was extremely helpful. :slight_smile:

Check these out.Might give you some good ideas.

Some really great stuff there. But the closes to what I’m talking about is something like what I linked to on amazon. Did you watch it?

Again, great stuff, but I think that video is really what I’m after. [not that the others weren’t good]

Looking at the video on Amazon, notice how the camera pans around to the front of the falling MIRV bomb? That part actually hides a transition and makes it easier on the effects team to switch from the Low Orbit shot to the High Altitude shot. Instead of worrying about transitioning the terrain from Low Orbit resolution (which has to cover about 1/8 of the planet) to the Low Altitude terrain with high resolution but low coverage.

The clouds are also a trick they use. The thick cloud cover hides transitions, and also hides the horizon when panning the camera back downwards. The cloud tunnel can be accomplished by a 2D image mapped to a tube, with just a few 3D clouds to add texture and volume. Don’t use volumetrics for the clouds - you’d still be waiting for the animation to render for weeks.

When the camera passes through some clouds, there’s no need for volumetrics, either. You just need to fade out the clouds as the camera approaches, turning completely invisible just as the camera reaches the clouds.

Orinoco’s link shows some alternate methods. Instead of rendering out one long shot, just cut between several different shots at varying altitudes.