© Mark Platten 2006



planet saturn

- 3ds Max
- After Effects

A sibling of the 'comet' sequence

As with the comet, this sequence kicked off with relatively simple geometry and animation work in Max, which was eclipsed(sic) by the time I spent in post.

The further I've worked my way forward, the more I've come to understand the importance of playing 2d and 3d off against each other. There are techniques specific to each, and between them lies an
intriguing area where the dimensions Venn and compete with each other.

With this and some of the other planets I produced, I made use of some excellent free, hi-resolution maps available online.

My principal challenge was to be able to zoom into the rings close enough to reveal that they are, in fact, composed of vast tracts of dust and rocks.

The rings, then, were constructed from a combination of mapped disk - shaped meshes and various particle systems emitting objects at various sizes, speeds and trajectories.

All the particle systems had to be constrained to follow a circular path, using standard MAX deflection methods. They also had to interact with each other, and not overload the workstation in the process: particles can get very resource-intensive, and just innocently changing a single value can provoke terminal lock-ups...
During the AE stages, I juggled with many different layers and some fiddly matteing to get a satisfactory effect with the rings.

As with the workflow on the comet sequence, the simple zoom-in toward the planet got broken up into discrete time segments, each with its own unique behaviours and requirements.

The particle system - generated debris had to become more and more visible during the approach, while their reveal had to remain seamless and plausible.

The BBC TV series 'The Planets' seemed the ideal benchmark to compare my work against.

Thanks to my own efforts, undertaken some years after this series was first broadcast, my interest grew in the original Planets. The series' vintage ought to render(sic) it obsolete, compared against state-of-the-minute computer graphics.

Are we too spoilt? Armed with a cursory understanding of the techniques involved, it's all too easy to pontificate from the safety of an armchair. Sure - some of The Planets' sequences look clunky in retrospect - but contextually, the occasional lapse is outweighed by moments of true brilliance. It continues to remind me of the original CG team's ingenuity - and economy.