How to Make a Rotating Planet in After Effects

Written by alvaro roque
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How to Make a Rotating Planet in After Effects
The rotating planet effect is one of the most used effects in cinema and television. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Appearing as early as the 1920s, the rotating planet effect can still be seen in news station logos, documentaries and many other types of media. The ability to create a rotating planet no longer requires a studio of people to pull it off. This effect can easily be done in After Effects with a couple of pictures and a few steps, and can produce a very professional looking 3-D rotating planet.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Earth Texture map
  • Earth Cloud map

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  1. 1

    Open After Effects. Go to "File," then select "Import" and "File." Select the cloud and earth textures that you have downloaded from the resource sites below. The images will open within the "Project" panel at the left hand of the After Effects window.

  2. 2

    Drag the cloud texture image onto the "Create New Composition" button at the bottom of the "Project" panel. The image will appear within the "Composition" window to the right of the "Project" panel. Drag the earth texture image under the cloud texture image layer within the "Timeline" below the "Composition" window. Select the clouds texture image. Click on the "Toggle Switches/ Modes" button at the bottom of the "Timeline" until the word "Mode" appears above the layers within the "Timeline."

  3. 3

    Click on the drop-down menu next to the cloud texture layer and select "Screen" to make all of the black transparent. You are now able to see the earth behind the clouds.

  4. 4

    Select the cloud texture image again. Go to "Effects," "Distort" and "Offset." This effect allows your image to be moved while the ends are cloned. In other words, it allows your image to loop.

  5. 5

    Click on the stopwatch icon next to "Shift Center To." Drag the "Time Indicator" within the "Timeline" to the right until the end. Double-click on the first value next to the "Shift Center To" in the "Effects" window that appears within the "Project" panel. Type in "3750" to loop the clouds moving around the earth three times.

  6. 6

    Go to "Composition," then "New Composition." Type "Earth" within the "Composition Name." Double-click on the "Frame Rate" and make this "30" frames per second. Click "OK."

  7. 7

    Drag the earth composition that you have just made from the "Project" panel into the empty "Timeline" below.

  8. 8

    Select the earth layer you just dragged in. Go to "Effect," "Perspective" and "CC Sphere" to make this layer into a globe. Click on the triangle icon next to "Radius" within the "Effects" window. Drag the "Radius" slider to the right until the globe fills the screen in the "Composition" window. Click on the triangle icon next to "Rotation" to reveal the rotation controls.

  9. 9

    Drag the "Time Indicator" to the left so that it is at the beginning of the animation. Click on the "Rotation Y" stopwatch icon, and drag the "Time Indicator" to the right end of the "Timeline." Click on "0x" next to "Rotation Y," and type in "1" so that the globe makes one rotation for this animation. Press the Space bar on your computer to watch your planet rotate.

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