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Connecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom

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Matthew BelinkieConnecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom
by on Dec 23, 2011 at 3:36:58 pm

I'm trying to seamlessly link two effects, and I can't get the transition right. The first is a spinning globe, created by CC Sphere in a 3D comp. The second is an "Earth zoom" into a particular city, created with parented 2D layers.

My basic strategy is to use the last frame of my spinning Earth as the bottom layer of the Earth zoom, layering all my other 2D layers on top of it. So just as the Earth stops spinning at the end of the first comp, we begin zooming in on our city. There are a couple of headaches with this:

1. The next-biggest 2D layer, covering Eastern China, is different enough from the globe beneath it so that it's obvious when it pops in as the new comp begins. When I FADE it in at the beginning of the Earth zoom, it's just obvious I'm fading it in. Even a slight difference in color becomes obvious. Maybe the best solution is to create a thick layer of clouds covering that whole region, and then fade the clouds out after a couple seconds of zooming, revealing the 2D layer scaling up underneath? But it would have to be a pretty thick cloud layer, and it's going to look weird.

2. Because I'm using the last frame of the previous comp as my bottom layer, it becomes pixelated as soon as I begin to scale it up, way before my next 2D layer fills the screen. An idea I had was to make the spinning Globe comp DOUBLE HD resolution (and then shrink it down to 50 percent in another comp). The beauty of this is by taking a frame from the double-size comp, I've got a new bottom layer for the Earth zoom with lots of pixels. Haven't tried this yet, but the theory seems sound.

Any advice about how to handle this transition? I'd love to take it even further, and begin to zoom WHILE the Earth finishes rotating. Right now I think everything has to come to a full stop to get a transition frame, but I don't love it.

- Matt

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Dave LaRondeRe: Connecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom
by on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:00:37 pm

The easiest way by far will be to do the zoom at the completion of the rotation.

You have a couple of different things going on: matching aerial pictures AND matching the distortions in the pictures caused by placing them on a sphere. If you add rotation to that mix, it just gets nasty an far more complicated.

You can make the end of the sphere's rotation look more... well, intentional... by using the Easy Ease In keyframe assistant. Just to be on the safe side, I'd also recommend highlighting the "stop" keyframe and using the Toggle Hold Keyframe command. The rotation will now remain rock-steady.

I guess it comes down to this: are you willing to put in a lot of extra work to start the zoom early?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Connecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom
by on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:20:28 pm

In order to get more resolution for the rotating Earth use a bigger image for the layer you apply CC Sphere to. This will enable you to fly in while still rotating. I would apply Dave's suggestion to Ease out the rotation making sure it stops by the end of your initial fly in. You can trick the transition between plates using a radial blur towards the edges.
Another way of doing this would be a step by step magnification, where you have a tracking cursor animated seeking the point and then enlarging that point to full screen.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist

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Matthew BelinkieRe: Connecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom
by on Dec 23, 2011 at 5:51:29 pm

I'm using a comically large source layer for CC Sphere, so that's not a problem. So the idea is to do a camera move in on the globe while it finishes rotating, so the right portion of the world is already filling the screen when the first comp ends? It certainly gives me a lot more options. But then when the second comp begins, the next layer of the earth zoom is already going to be filling the screen. Making the Earth bigger compounds the problem of how I gracefully transition from a spherical layer to a bunch of flat maps. Then again, maybe zooming in on the Earth in the FIRST comp lets me skip a layer of 2D map, so it balances out.

I suspect I'll need to fudge this transition in a couple ways:
1. Use a layer of clouds to mask the layer fading in below, then fade the clouds away as we zoom "through" them.
2. Speed up the first part of the zoom, thus increasing the motion blur enough to mask the imperfections. So we start in space, and do a really fast zoom through the top layer of clouds, then slow down as we get to the country level.

Basically, the part where I'm layering a 2D map on top of a CC Sphere effects is never going to be perfect, so I want to spend as few frames on that as possible. Right?

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John CuevasRe: Connecting a spinning globe with an Earth zoom
by on Dec 23, 2011 at 6:33:09 pm

Michael Park made a nice tutorial for creating a 3d earth. I think if you used his method for the cloud layer, you could position it over your country for the zoom. Giving you a frame or 2 of white or near white to cut the 2nd portion.

Perhaps layering some more clouds like Andrew Kramer does in his Earth Zoom tutorial might be effective also.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.

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