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Planet Earth: Create a VERY realistic planet Earth for your video
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Posted on July 22nd, 2005
Adobe After Effects
Planet Earth, the place where we live, sleep, eat & design ;)
Ever wondered how to do Planet earth in After Effects? Easy... just follow my tutorial and you will see it's sooooo easy.. as a goodie I will show you also how to remove the ocean and create a grid for simulating the longitude lines.

- Step 1
First of all we need to get a decent picture of our planet, I've found this page months ago as I was searching for something similar. BOOKMARK IT!! you never know when you need it again. NASA - BLUE MARBLE
I've downloaded the 2048x1024 TIF picture, that should be enough for our current project. If the page is down for whatever reason, you can download the Picture I've used HERE

- Step 2
Let's get down to this now, you will be amazed how fast you will be finished :D

- Create a new composition, in our case 320x240 with a length of 5sec.
- Import our Earth_map.tif. After effects will ask you what you want to do with the Alpha Channel, just click on Ignore and go on with it.
(After Effects asks you that because the alpha channel doesn't have any name)
- Ok, now just Drag&Drop your map to the timeline, you will notice that your map is far too big for your comp, but hey don't panic.
Step 2

- Select the newly created layer and apply the CC Sphere Effect (Effect - Perspective - CC Sphere)
- Adjust the settings of the effect so that you can see the whole sphere on your composition. I've used a radius of 110. Step 2.1

- Step 3
Let's tweak the effect to get a bit more realistic earth.
- First of all rotate the X position to about -15, so we have the normal view of the planet.
- We want to rotate the whole earth let's say once in 5 seconds. So now set a keyframe for Rotation Y at the beginning of your Composition and another one at the end of your composition. Now change the Rotation Y value to 1x+0.0, meaning that it will make one rotation, and then stop where it has started.
Step 3
position at 3sec

- Step 4

I don't like that white background, so let's create something quick & easy.
- Create a new Solid same size as comp, and place it behind the Map Layer.
- Apply the Ramp Effect to it (Effect - Render - Ramp) and choose 2 nice colors to put behind it, I've used some Dark Royal Blue to White.
Now we have a more usable background
Step 4

If you do a RAM preview now (pressing 0 on the numerical Keypad) you will see our planet rotating 360, wasn't it easy? :)

Additional Steps
We wouldn't be Twodded if we wouldn't put a cherry on top of the cream ;)
So let's make some more cool stuff.

- Step 5 - Remove the Ocean, Transparent Sphere
- Let's put a Color Key on our Map Layer (Effect - Keying - Color Key)
Color Key is a wonderful plugin, even the basic one, you just pick the color you want to remove, set the tolerance and that's it, the color is just vanished.
- I've picked up a color in the middle of the atlantic ocean and set the tolerance to 80, with a edge thin of 1.
Step 5
Where's the back of the planet? australia and asia and so on?
Don't worry, just drag the Color Key Filter to the top.
How you do that?
Select the map layer, press F3 and then just Drag the Color Key Filter to the top.
Step 5.1
There you are, now you see everything behind it.

- Step 6 - Longitude, Latitude Lines
What about a grid, wrapped in the sphere showing the longitude lines? Even easier.

Select again our Map Layer and put a Grid Effect on it (Effect - Render - Grid).
Put that GridEffect on top of all other Effects, and tweak it as you like.
Here the settings I've used:
Step 6
The most important thing to do, is like mentioned above to put it on top of all other effects, the second most important is to give the blending mode "add".

That's it, we are done with our cool Blue Marble, Planet Earth or whatever you say to it ;)

Here the AVI file for HERE
I hope you enjoyd this tutorial.
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