This series of test shots is a compilation of months of experimentation trying to create a believable CG Earth as a personal learning project.

The shots were not planned so there is no coherent sequence. A lot of problems had to be corrected in post. Completed features include:
- Sun, Moon and Earth are constructed to scale
- orbital distances, inclinations, axial tilts are based on scientific data and constructed to relative scale
- orbital and rotation times are to relative scale (time is speed up about 1000x on average)
- terminator reddening (local lighting changes across the terminator to reflect day, sunset and night - implemented in VEX shader)
- atmospheric scattering (faked using multiple concentric transparent shells with altitude falloff and other density factors)
- volumetric clouds (very badly faked using displacement mapping)
- displacement mapped topography
- specularity for inland rivers and lakes (lower resolution than terrain data, and poorly hacked in Photoshop)
- city lights (looks cool but should not be visible for realistic "daylight" exposures, also low resolution but with additional detail using procedural patterns)

The first 2 shots are actually still renders with animation added in post. I must confess that I did not finish texturing the ISS model, which was setup and rendered in Maya because it's such a pain to surface and texture downloaded models in Houdini, especially one with hundreds of materials.

Overall, I can't say I succeeded in my original goal, but I've decided to make this a technical milestone. More R&D is need to carry on, so it's back to the textbooks and drawing boards ^^;;

My deepest respects, thanks and courtesy to NASA for generously sharing their Blue Marble (and other scientific datasets) and 3D models of spacecrafts with the world.

Tools used:
Houdini (procedural modeling, shader development and rendering)
Maya (rendering of ISS)
After Effects (editing, compositing, color correction, effects)
Nuke (compositing, color correction, effects)
Photoshop (texture editing)

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