Project Ideas & Research – Part 1

An idea that I may want to explore is that of planetary bodies, atmospheric particles and effects. A classic example of this is the Star Trek (2009) credits where a whole number of different planet concepts are shown. Each scene is very dramatic, often with multiple close-by planets in varying sizes and colours. Also shown are cosmic dust clouds, broken planets, asteroid fields and collisions and J.J. Abrams’ signature lens flares (yeah maybe a bit too many of them).

What I was originally thinking was to explore and produce the atmospheric effects surrounding the planets but was thinking of how I’d make a project out of that. Typically these effects are simply just glows around a sphere but in the Star Trek credits there is much more, with geysers and jets of gas or material coming off some planets. There are also a number of asteroid fields and some smashed up planets which may also add some depth to scenes I might want to make.

I looked into a few ways of how these effects are achieved and came across the following tutorials. In the first tutorial an atmosphere is created using a fluid container, part of the maya dynamics system which would be a good area to explore. A colour ramp is used to get the desired effect. One step to go further could be to add dynamic clouds, winds or fog. This would be more suited to a rendered image or preferably a video if I were to turn this into a project.

A dynamic cloud layer like the one in this tutorial could be a start in adding more depth to an atmosphere scene. Scripting could be used to program the behaviour of winds and how those clouds moved. Note that both these tutorials are closer to the planet and not dealing with a spherical volume.

My aim of the project would be to assist in telling the narrative of a scene. How a planet looks like from this angle can tell of the hostility or nature of the planet: the colours and thickness of the atmosphere, how active clouds and particles move within it, the types of particles in the atmosphere (dust, embers, moisture, etc.)

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