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The Whole EarthThe last time you?ll ever ask how to create a sphere in After Effects
At least once a week in one of the many news groups and discussion forums out there, someone will ask, ?How do I create a sphere in After Effects? like, um, I want to make the planet Earth, and like, um, I want it to rotate and stuff ya know. Have no fear dear reader, with After Effects 6.5 you will no longer have to ask this question again and again and again and again?
With the release of After Effects 6.5, Adobe has included over 60 new effects in the latest release. Of those 60, quite a few come from the old Cycore Final Effects collection. These effects have been rebuilt to work in the new AE6.5 environment, so they are not simply the old effects being slapped into the program. I wrote about all of the new features in After Effects 6.5 Pro quite a while ago, and you can read about it here .
Included in the package is a simple effect called Sphere. As the name implies, Sphere takes a layer and allows you to create a pseudo 3D sphere in the application. I say pseudo sphere because while the effect does create a realistic sphere, it is still a flat 2D plane.
In this exercise, we are going to create the planet Earth, complete with rotating cloud layer. To begin, you need to download an image of the Earth. For this exercise I went to the NASA Earth Observatory site (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/BlueMarble/) and found both a cloud map and a sans cloud earth map.
Step 1: Launch After Effects 6.5 and import your image files (Command+I on the Mac, Control+I on the PC).
Step 2: Create a New Composition. In this example I am using the DV NTSC Preset, with a length of 10 seconds..
Step 3: Place the Earth map into the Timeline.
Step 4: To this layer, apply the Sphere effect from Effect>Perspective>CC Sphere.
Instantly your layer will turn into a sphere.
It is a rather dull sphere at the moment, because we havent tweaked the settings yet. The Effect Controls Panel for Sphere is really quite simple. The Rotation controls allow you to rotate the sphere on the X, Y, and Z axis. For example, if you change the Rotation X value to -23.5, you get the proper angle for the Earth axis. If you want the planet to rotate, you would animate the Y-axis rotation.
|Click for larger image.|