This animation is the result of some experiments in using POV-Ray's volumetric media to create convincing and ethereal animated clouds, while keeping production times to the absolute minimum. POV-Ray volumetrics are notoriously slow to render, but they can produce very good results. That said, I've estimated that using actual media containers to render each of the 1008 frames needed for this 42 second animation would take about three years of continuous rendering! And that would leave no wiggle room for mistakes or changes if the cloud movement turned out to be unconvincing...

To get around this limitation the animation actually uses only two different, pre-rendered media clouds, each output as a 1920x1080px EXR file with a transparent background (command line switches +fe +ua), with each cloud taking about one full day to render.

I created six cloud layers by projecting (image mapping) a single pre-rendered cloud onto each of six planes set at various distances from the camera, creating in-camera compositing of the cloud layers. Each layer uses simple linear interpolation to move from a start point to an end point at different speeds over the frame range, simulating a parallax effect. Each layer also uses linear interpolation for subtle rotation and scaling for additional realism of overall movement. I was able to test various parameters for the interpolations by rendering short sections of the animation, with each frame taking only a few seconds instead of a full day.

To show how an object could appear to realistically float up through the cloud bank I also added some beveled text that rises up behind the first three layers. The final compositing/animation renders for all 1008 frames took only a bit more than 2 hours.

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