Cinematic Satellite

Hello! This week I am revisiting a program that I wrote a post on in July 2021, Google Earth Studio! I have actually wanted to revisit this for a very long while but was still learning behind the scenes about new things I can do with the software and ways to improve realism both real-time and in post processing. I also recently got approved by mods into the private Google Groups community which really got me excited. I wasn’t the only one either since tons of people were sending confused messages after totally forgetting about the application a year prior šŸ˜‚

Beginning the Project:
I am doing everything at the highest resolution available this time, also 60fps. I’m going to stick with Earth, but do want to check out mars and the moon at some point.

Okay, I’m in!

I’m going to add some attributes and move forward! Now that I’ve enabled all the attributes, I have a bit more in the interface:

I also enabled an overlay so that I can see what areas on earth Google has in 3d:

I now have this map up too, the last step for now!

Creating the Cinematics Pt1:
Now it is time to start creating key-frames across the globe! I inserted this first keyframe on an island somewhere (might be Hawaii). I set the time to 3:30ish AM, this brought in more shadows and helped make the landscape look better.

The next keyframe I put down was closer to the ground… not sure if I like this yet, but it’s here for now:

After adding a few more keyframes, I zoomed out to here:

Next I did a long zoom into the city buildings! THe program seemed to bug out a bit with the camera having some ghost frames, but a quick step transition to remove smoothing fixed the rolling issues.

I used some panning and time adjustments into the dark which might be a good transition…

I’m going to export this and see what it looks like. Also, I’m going to use cloud rendering to see what it looks like. It is a bit inconvenient to leave my computer to render each frame since you can’t do anything else while it does it. It seems pretty fast!

It is now exported and looking decent, have some things I’m going to improve on in the next sequences though. šŸ™‚
Also, yikes, it is 594 mb… this whole thing could be quite storage heavy.

Creating the Cinematics Pt2:

I opened this up in a new project, same resolution and all!

Glad to see my layout of menus and settings is saved! šŸ˜€

I zoomed into this city in South America with all these skyscrapers nearby!

I adjusted the time and the camera positioning to get this!

I first did this pan into this section of buildings…

After another pan out from the building, I went past the building of focus into other buildings in a somewhat circling pattern. I am worried it’ll be too fast paced, but I’ll have to see once it renders… Okay, I ended up rendering it again with a more spread out timeline across more frames.

Creating the Cinematics Pt3:
I have the last section exported and now onto another part! I want to begin with a shot straight down like this:

I added a slow pan accross and a move down… I then moved into the city with a simple zoom and pan:

I am trying to keep the shots slower and more “drone like”. Also, I adjusted the time to sunrise but in reverse.

That part is also exported and ready to go!

Creating the Cinematics Pt4:
So, onto the next part where I kinda want to start concluding the clips… I want to start by reusing this overhead style shot:

And pan to make the buildings almost pop into 3d…

I ended this portion panning around the building with a darkening scene:

Creating the Cinematics Pt5:
Now for what I think is the final part! I started the project and zoomed into New York City since I love the skyscrapers there. There are more details as well with the 3d buildings.

I began with sun hitting the buildings and an overview of the outskirts of the business district.

I moved around to the buildings all together:

I shifted to a look at the main city with the low simulated sun (we’ll work more with that in a bit).

I ended here, much closer and decided to do a bit of extra building panning.

A pan here:

Another here:

AND, another here:

I do have a theoretical plan for these random camera pans, but may not end up using it. Finally, to finish I want to zoom out from NYC to the entire globe (yes, I unfortunately know that will take forever to render šŸ˜…). I’m going to start here:

Then, pan up to a slightly different angle (here):

Finally do the big zoom out… and, here we are!

My computer was very laggy at this point since it rendering that many 3d buildings at once is kinda painful. I ended up making the zoom out a bit less smooth than I wanted, but it is okay. Currently it seems to not let me submit to the cloud rendering service… hopefully once the last section is finished it’ll work or maybe tomorrow. The daily render limit is 18,000 frames and I’m not totally sure if I passed it or not… Correction: apparently this 18,000 frames has to be broken up and it does include failed renders šŸ˜¦

I did eventually figure it out and ended up doing the rendering locally on my machine (unfortunately at a lower resolution) and added them to blender which combined them instantly! I was kinda shocked since Adobe Media Encoder takes 10-20 minutes but the whole image sequence was instantly combined in Blender which was impressive. I also imported the cloud renders too!

Now, let’s turn to the editing and merging of these clips!

Combining & Enhancing the Cinematics:

Here we are in Blender with the two image sequences… and soon I’ll have the mp4’s.

I increased the size to the 4096 width that *most* of the frames were rendered with.

Now imported the mp4’s:

While I waited for the mp4’s to import and build proxy’s I grabbed this music!

Here we are, I added the last mountain mp4 and am ready to pan into the city!

I want to make this clip a bit more vibrant… I’ll adjust the colours for now. Also, I did want it to be slower, but even with 60fps I don’t like how it looks. I think this green looks more realistic, but can’t decide if it is a bit “too green”… I’m keeping it for now, but want to see how it looks later.

I did a lot of cuts into the city and at this point wanted to do a side to side quick swipe transition… It isn’t as fast as I wanted, and speeding it up messes up the masking (which I have now learned how to do!) so I’ll leave it like this šŸ™‚

Next I want to work with this light leak…

I ended up with this and like it! (starting to reallllly lag)

I added this next… rough thing to transition too but I’ll figure something out!

I really boosted the yellows into a sunset tint…

I cut to this next:

I added a fade into this clip:

I also then adjusted yellow to be a bit more “cinematic”

Another transition here into a pan around these buildings!

Now I’m moving into the jpegs which seem less laggy… might have to keep that in mind. Unfortunately it is now 1080 instead of 4096p because of how I rendered it. Might avoid most of this footage… Here is the clip after some colour adjustments:

Following this I moved pretty quickly through the next clips:

After work going into this last section, here is a before edits:

here is after colour and brightness adjustments:

Finally, here we are… the end frames.

Now time to export! šŸ˜€

Final Video:


Thanks so much for reading! I had a ton of fun making this post and hope you enjoyed it! Google and B-reel have been phenomenal at improving this and I can’t wait for the future with higher resolution and widespread ultra high quality buildings! Have a great week!

-Digital Wonders & Smiles

Published by Digital Wonders and Smiles

I am a photographer, writing a photography blog here on WordPress. I am based in the USA and take photos in my hometown. I also occasionally travel both domestically and internationally and write photoblog posts and make videos about these trips! On my blog, I cover everything from mobile photography to dslr photography to photography techniques for anyone!

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