Our Planet Earth at Night

  • Creator: Niels Thorwirth
  • Year: 2011
  • Location: San Diego, USA

Beautiful Views of the Earth taken from the International Space Station with a photo camera in regular intervals.
I composed the scenes with description, music and smooth animation.
For details on the content and licensing see www.thorwirth.com/space.htm

Info about the images at http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Videos/CrewEarthObservationsVideos/
License info at http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/Info/use.htm
Music: http://www.taylorhayward.org/
Sounds: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/sounds/ and http://www.nasa.gov/connect/sounds/ and http://afterthebeep.com

Dec 2011

= What it is =
The video is assembled from pictures taken with a photo camera from the International Space Station in regular intervals. It’s a time lapse composition, playing much faster then real time. Several cities and countries stand out and those crossing the lower border are marked in the labels in the bottom that disappear when they re directly over those landmarks. Thunderstorms are clearly visible as the pictures have fairly long exposure times.
The thin yellow-gold line above the earth is airglow, caused by the release of energy from atoms and molecules high in the atmosphere that are excited by ultraviolet radiation during the day.
Some pictures show the aurora ( Borealis in the north, Australis in the south ). They occur when solar winds collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere. These exited atoms emit light as they return to their original energy level, creating the visible aurora.
The first shot shows Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-133 taking off on February 24th 2011. NASA has more info and multimedia on that. The next shot shows what the ISS looks like from the Discovery.

=How it’s Made =
I downloaded the still frames from NASA and used aviSynth for the effects and animation. That’s a powerful windows tool to scrip the video process. A lot of different aviSynth plugins were helpful to remove the noise, calculate intermediate frames, load and output jpg frames. AvsP is a helpful editor to create and test the scripts and VirtualDub can be used for final tweaks and rendering.
Google Earth with the NASA night view layer was an important tool to recognize the night cities form an unusual perspective and to create the subtitles accordingly.
For audio I downloaded some interesting sounds from NASA, created my own recordings with AfterTheBeep! and found Taylor Hayward’s beautiful music tracks. Audiacity was used to assemble the tracks.
I did the final compression with avidemux before upload to youTube.
All in all a intricate process with different tools, installs, tweaking and some programming. The challenging parts that included programming were the accelerating rotation of the earth, the calculation of intermediate frames to reduce the earth speed and the subtitle animations.

If you want to try a similar approach: work with SD initially to set the script and parameters right and switch to HD in the last stages. Processing of video is a time consuming task already in SD.
If you are interested – feel free to ask me for more details.

=Licensing =
Because I work with copyright protection technologies, I know it’s tough to find content that can be legally used and distributed. This content is an exception as NASA makes their images and sounds available with only limited restrictions and the music is also free for use in other productions. I won’t claim copyright on my edits either so feel free to use the content – though, of course, i don’t make any guarantees or warranties.

You may also contact me if you need a higher quality version.

Our Planet Earth at Night is available in the public domain via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic .

Source: Vimeo

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