Our brand development for P V Media Productions is coming along quite nicely. I have completed the 30 second intro clip which will precede any media we release.
Before I go any further, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge and thank Michael Park of Creative Cow for the tutorial Creating a realistic earth using only Ae and the project files. Also thanks to Andrew Kramer of iStars for his tutorials which gave me inspiration as well as technical knowledge.
I had a vague idea of a concept which included a camera lens, the earth reflected in the lens 'Captured' is the term used by photographers and film makers. I have always been keen on special effects as can be seen on my earliest films (by those who are closest to me - charcoal outlines developing into colourful images and picture within picture, a difficult process with standard 8 film back in 1980). Today in 2015, Motion Graphics is the new trend to expand special effects into 3D affordably for the smaller film-maker and such a lot of fun.
I started off by simply following Michael Park's tutorial and using the project files he supplied and once I was able to replicate the effect I started experimenting to take the process a few steps further along. I would save the project with a version number so that I could go back a step to a clean slate if I became too entangled in the process and elements.
The first advancement for me was to have the cloud actually rotate around the earth a little faster than the rotation of the earth. I achieved this by using key-frames to offset the centre of the cloud mask. Then I thought it would be more interesting if we saw that cloud forming and dissipating while it rotated. To do this I duplicated the cloud layer, inverted the selection, changed the midpoint offset to oppose the original and set the radius a fraction larger than the original. Then I used key-frames to adjust the opacity of each cloud layer at irregular intervals.
Next was to add the moon to the clip and I wanted it to rotate as well, first a little research to get size, timings and rotation speed relative to the earth. I searched NASA's site for royalty free map of the moon which I found and so I created a pre-comp along the lines of the earth tutorial and set the rotation to 2 using an Adjustment layer for angle control. I used a path on the Final_Comp to have the Moon rotate around the earth at about 13 degrees over the 30 seconds. I pick-whipped the radius of my 'Moon' to my 'Master_Earth' so that any adjustments made to the size of my earth would be reflected in the moon - proportionally.
I then added a new composite background layer which was created from an image of the Andromeda Galaxy captured by Hubble and my own photograph of the Milky Way Galaxy, merged in photoshop. I placed this above my own version of the original 'Starfield' which I created using fractal noise (there are heaps of youtube tuts online to do this). I set the mode for this Composite_Space layer to 'Screen' so that I could do the same technique as my clouds layers and offset the centre which would give the illusion of moving star-fields (but very subtle).
Wanting to give the viewer the illusion of moving away from the earth to take up an orbiting position, I increased the starting size of my 'Master_Earth's radius until the moon was just hidden from view and used key-frames to control the reverse zoom effect. The end result was to give the illusion of the moon appearing from behind the earth as the viewer moved away into the universe slightly to the right whilst ascending. I then sought a piece of music that I wanted to associate with our brand whilst creating a mood of suspenseful anticipation. I purchased the piece from Pond5 and aligned the music and graphics to my liking.
Lastly I added our logo, the lens with P V Media across the face and our marketing blurb. I played around with different effects to make the appearance of each element separate and interesting and to take no more than 16 seconds. It is paramount to have the clip end before the viewers interest. This then is our intro clip which will transition into all future projects.
Comments and feedback are most welcome.