All you need for your very own CGI moon

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    NASA’s made the building blocks of a nice, scientifically-accurate CGI moon available to all. [LINK]

    Using data and imagery from LRO, Ernie Wright brings the Moon to life in unprecedented detail. Wright is a science visualizer who works at the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He created the online CGI Moon kit.

    The purpose of the CGI Moon kit is to make NASA’s data more accessible to 3-D artists. Wright initially created the 3D Moon map as a Scientific Visualization Studio (SVS) resource, but after receiving multiple requests for the data used to create his Moon visualizations, he decided to share his creation as a way for artists to connect with the LRO mission.

    “[The Moon kit] will bring the LRO data within reach of lots of other artists who want to do the kinds of things that I do,” Wright said.

    Wright explains creating and sharing the Moon is the easy part. The real challenge is in setting the scene. In order to successfully tell a story to the audience, Wright takes lighting, location, and the overall big picture into strong consideration.

    “Using 3D animation software is a lot like filming live action, with lights, cameras, props and sets” Wright said, “but visualization is more like filming a documentary. You’re being factual, but you’re also creating a narrative.”

    When he created a video showing the Apollo 17 landing site, Wright took an approach that would focus on highlighting the path of the astronauts. The sight on the Moon is smaller than a pixel, and zooming into the sight and showing the rover tracks all fuel the ultimate goal of telling the story of the images captured by LRO.

    “We’re putting the pictures back into context, Wright said, “we’re putting them back where they came from.”

    If you know your way around 3-D modeling and rendering software, you can go get the building blocks of your very own moon here: [LINK]

    We really like the moon. In fact, someone could do a new version of this with a new 3-D moon.

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