ADR1FT + Earth

I developed the Earth for ADR1FT. The source imagery for the Earth and Clouds were provided by NASA’s Visible Earth Catalog as 10 216000 x 216000 PNG’s.

What you see in AD1FT is the March Blue Marble.

Development doesn’t happen in a vaccuum. This incredible imagery was constructed from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS by NASA Lead Data Visualizer and Information Designer Robert Simmons. Check out his interview here:

ADR1FT’s Earth is a blueprint actor with dozens of parameters for orbit, speed, pitch, cloud speed, cloud direction, color interpolations for night to day transition data, and so on.


The orbit for the Earth in ADR1FT is not straightforward. I bent and torqued the orbit for visual as well as narrative reasons. Below is a video showing the final orbit sped up approximately 12X

VIDEO LINK – Earth Orbit 12x


Here’s the narrative breakdown I created: We begin the orbit off the California coast. This is a direct reference to the studio I worked for; Three One Zero, located in Santa Monica. Next, we head down the coast of beautiful Mexico and into Central America. The reference here is the Yucatan peninsula, the location of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. We cross into lush and beautiful Brazil and start following the meandering Amazon river. If you look close, you can witness the destruction of the Amazon rainforest occurring. Even at this height, man’s impact on the environment is evident.

We head out across the Atlantic and I straighten the orbit to make for the shortest path across the Atlantic. We see the West Coast of Africa appear and then we dip the orbit back down and continue across open ocean until we pick up the coastline again. This was done to break the Atlantic into two beats.

We begin to ascend as we cross into central Africa. We can see Lake Victoria. This means we’re in the vicinity of the Olduvai Gorge, the site of many excavations and discoveries of early Hominids by Louis Leaky which advanced our understanding of human knowledge.

We climb North East passing by Ethiopia, Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula, and into the Arabian Sea. As we do so, the Earth begins it’s transition into night and we begin to see the sparkling clusters of life in the Somali Peninsula.

Next we encounter the bejeweled and dazzling night of India. Gorgeous, full of life. Awe inspiring. Humbling.

We skirt the Bay of Benglal and the Indochina Peninsula. Thailand. Vietnam. Southeast Asia is sparkling with immense beauty and we can trace the contours of Sumatra, Malaysia, Borneo; Indonesia. To the North, if you look carefully, you can also see the Himalayas glowing in the night air.

We’ve now begun to tilt back toward a Northeast heading. As we travel across the South China Sea Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and hundreds of smaller interconnected cities forming a vital lace of life and energy.

We straight our and head across the East China Sea. There for everyone is the incandescent southern portion of the Korean peninula, which contrasts with the eerie dark silence of North Korea. Before we head out across the reaches of the Pacific, we are entertained by the most beautiful sight of Japan at night.

From here, we begin a long and dark journey across the Pacific. The clouds are lit a beautiful blue by moonshine only. Earth’s green bubble of “night air, otherwise known as airglow or nightglow, hugs the planet. This is the faint emission of light from the planet’s atmosphere. This is nitrogen combining with oxygen to form nitric oxide. Through this process, photons are emitted.

As dawn approaches, a crescent glow emerges from the dark silouette and the dawn lights scatters across the water below. As daylight takes over, the Pacific Ocean and the earth’s clouds for the classic blue marble we have come to know. Here’s if you look down, you will often notice the water has a more luminescent quality. This is purely an aesthetic choice. You’ll possibly also notice now that the clouds actually have shadows.

We return where we began and if you look North, you’ll see the entire Canadian and Alaskan coastline. What we missed geographically was never there technically as I funneled all of my memory and technical resources into this orbit. In the end, what we see from 125 km above the Earth, if you look straight down, is equivalent to a US quarter placed on a basketball.