Earth Digital — Advanced Compositing for Operation: Deli Platter

Rendering Natural looking Beauty

3 min

November 13, 2022

Earth Digital

Operation: Deli Platter is a short film that started as personal series of renders telling
a story about border control, modern warfare and the pharmaceutical industry :)

Over time it has evolved into an episodical animation series.

The first shot in the series is one of planet Earth!

Made with Earth Digital — A photorealistic solution for 3D rendering Earth
— Available for Free on our Resources page

A photorealistic shot of planet Earth made with Earth Digital in a still from Operation: Deli Platter by Blauw Films.
Still from Operation: Deli Platter using Earth Digital.
Rendered in Cinema 4D and Chaos Corona.

Since the production of Syntactic Labyrinths started we have been in Earth R&D.
This eventually led to the project Earth Digital, a digital twin of planet Earth for cinema visual effects.

Earth Digital, a digital twin of planet earth for cinema visual effects, breakdown of the digital product with the planet, the clay render and the normal render.


I’ve made lots of Earth renders before so it was fun to play around with the settings for this one.

A thought from the book Beauty by Roger Scruton stuck with me.

Scruton argues that the importance of beauty and its transcendental nature can be found in anything that’s real.
For example, nature can be appreciated as beauty pure by itself.

I wondered if it was possible to achieve such a result in an artwork which lacks the photorealism of real-life.

The first thing I did was utilise our Star System a bit more.
During developments for Syntactic Labyrinths we also ran into the issue of "flickering" stars.
This could be solved through the use of high-dynamic range (32-bit) stars in our plate.

I’ve been using these star maps for a while now, but hadn’t considered adding Really bright stars in the shot.


Considering natural beauty comes from reality, I replicated the position of the stars from NASA’s star plotting page.
You could also use Celestia if you’d like a native application.

A matte painting of stars in space with the moon in the distance. Made by Blauw Films for the series Operation: Deli Platter.
Star System stars are extracted from NASA photography.

I’m not sure whether this works on an emotional level, but I feel like having these “accurately placed” stars brings
a level of subtle realism to the background that becomes engaging to look at.

A Normals Shading Pass of planet Earth and the Moon rendered in Chaos Corona using Earth Digital from Blauw Films.
NormalsShading Pass of Earth and Moon (Chaos Corona 9 in Cinema 4D)

The moon itself rendered a bit dark at first, but I made use of the NormalsShading map to lift the values in post.
Each color of the normal map can be used as a mask for your Color Correct nodes during compositing.

I’ve made use of a few more subtle channels in the Earth render:
Especially the Vapor Density map benefits the volumetric shadows a lot! I was very surprised that it worked so well :)

Texture maps used in Earth Digital, the visual effects and cinema level 3d asset for creating photorealistic renders of planet Earth.
The different passes we used in Earth Digital Update 2.0.

Making planets is all in the details. How tall are your clouds?
How thick is your atmosphere at which point? You know the deal.

So here we are, Earth Digital.

New updated texture maps, 32-Bit Star plates included, 2 Hour process demo, many many updates to the shaders!

A render of Earth Digital without the clouds including the show pass. Rendered in Chaos Corona using Earth Digital by Blauw Films.
I’ve rendered the Earth layer without the clouds + the clouds separately.

This is not essential. It depends on the use-case for your shot.
The atmosphere is also something I often render out separately to get a better result in compositing.

The clouds from Planet Earth as seen from space. This has been rendered in Chaos Corona using Earth Digital by Blauw Films for creating photorealistic Earth renders.
This gives lots of freedom when playing with the cloud density and values in compositing.

Achieving a good result in Earth Digital is mainly about framing and lighting.
Where do you want to place your sun? Where are you floating with your camera?

The atmosphere and Clouds shader are set up for Chaos Corona and
Depending on your use-case you can use one sun or multiple suns linked together (through Xpresso).
This can be useful when you need more control over the light color for different layers.

Earth Digital viewport example in Cinema 4D for Chaos Corona.

Finally, I’ve made use of our Bokeh Builder aperture maps to give a soft rounded bokeh like that of a human eye:

A lens focus chart and a color chart with a chrome and matte ball. This Look Dev render showcases strong bokeh effects and uses the Bokeh Builder by Blauw Films for photorealistic results.
We’ve been developing this as part of our R&D for future project and will soon release a YouTube tutorial on it.

A lens focus chart and a color chart with a chrome and matte ball. This Look Dev render showcases strong bokeh effects and uses the Bokeh Builder by Blauw Films for photorealistic results.

When applied to a render it looks like this:

A final render of planet Earth with the moon looking over Africa. This render is a still from Operation: Deli Platter by Blauw Films and has been render

As most of it is in focus it is difficult to see its effect. It mainly adds some color variation to your render, as the aperture map isn’t pure grayscale.

Shallow Depth-of-field example from Deli Platter:

A still from Operation: Deli Platter by Blauw Films of a soldier aiming his rifle towards the camera in shallow depth of field.
If you look at the depth-of-field you’ll see there is a very balanced transition from one blur disk to the next.The human-eye bokeh works really well to create a soft blur that doesn’t attract attention to itself.

The Bokeh Builder tool by Blauw Films to customise the look of your bokeh in your 3D renders and create photorealistic camera effects in CGI.
Bokeh Builder is available for Free on our Resources Page!

The Turntable Backdrop for Look Development artists for Cinema 4D and Chaos Corona made by Blauw Films to create photorealistic renders.
The Look-Dev setup I’m using is also an available Resource!

Stay connected with Blauw Films! 
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References

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