I’ve really enjoyed the progress made in photographing the micro planets, which I’ve now put into a series of 26 final images called Little Planets. This series has recently been revised with new versions and edited versions so the reflections have been reduced or removed altogether. (see part 1 here)
Moving forward with this idea… and making it more interesting than static images or micro focus animations, I found a way to smoothly rotate each planet using a technique in After Effects and the powerful plugin for time-remapping called Twixtor. I’ve been using this plugin for about two years now (wow how time flies) but only now have I used it in this particular way. If you are interested in learning how I created the morphing and slow-moving rotation from a series of still images check out the tutorial below.
The result of the morphing marbles can now be seen in a much more fluid way than what I showed in my previous post. This concludes the morphing aspect of these planets, which I explain more in that post as well. I may add music or ambience to this at a later point, or find a way to integrate this experiment into something else… like the eyes of animals and people.
Static Imagery to Movement
For this smooth rotating effect, I rotated each marble by hand and took an image for each rotation. Video wasn’t possible because (a) there was not enough light at the f/16 I shot this at, and (b) my hand would have been in every shot! This process worked well but required a LOT of rendering and there are some stange effects, even with the settings I used.
The animated gif below comes from 54 frames and was rendered at 10 frames-per-second.
The video below took about 10 hours to render because it converted these 54 frames into 9,000 frames (5 minutes at 30fps). For every picture I took the computer software (After Effects & Twixtor) created 166.66 frames.
Although this looks interesting from a technical standpoint, I’m going to use an actual step-motor timelapse device for a third and final run at this. I just purchased the Radian from Alpine Labs and will use this device to get perfect micro-steps of rotation from each marble and put into a finished video. The problem is that reflections are really difficult to produce and it throws things “off” too much, especially when there is transparency. I’m still working out how these videos will be displayed, because they are indeed long and work better as ambience or background display at this point.