Ambidextrous Productions came to me for rendering a realistic globe animation for a commercial spot they were working on. They were creating a spot for Kubota Tractors, which provide a wide range of farming vechicles across the globe. The animation was urgent, and important, but the project completed on-time and successfully.
Earth’s surface was created with NASA’s blue dot textures (diffuse, specular, bump). When the camera zooms down into the surface, I needed closer maps, so I grabbed some from Google Earth at different zoom levels and positioned them so they lined up. Because the lighting at that time is fairly noon-like, I didn’t need any other maps besides diffuse to get a nice look.
The atmosphere was a variable-density SSS material with blue scattering and a little bit of schlick phase to match our atmosphere. Octane made beautiful work of the SSS and created soft red hues at glancing angles that really sell the atmospheric visuals.
This actually ended up being a more complicated part of the project that I didn’t anticipate. The problem is that while the earth textures are an equirectangular projection that map perfectly onto a sphere, the maps provided with locations are “regular” (unspecified projection) isolated maps of the United States. Trying to align these two types of projections was difficult, but ultimately doable.
Another thing I had to fudge was Hawai’i’s distance from the continental states. In reality, it’s much further out into the Pacific Ocean and is awkwardly far away for a nice presentation. I manipulated the maps to bring it closer together.