Virtual globes at the movies
Though I haven't heard of any movies using recent virtual globes technology yet, I'm sure it's just a matter of time. Just for fun, I started thinking of virtual globes in film. Two classic examples are in Star Trek and Star Wars. In 1982's Wrath of Kahn, the Star Trek crew views a computer animation of terraforming (see: video/mp4). The sequence is one of the earliest uses of CGI in film, and the first to use fractal-generated landscapes. In Star Wars, we see a holographic Death Star in 1983's Return of the Jedi. According to this site, ILM designer Joe Johnston's virtual Death Star was the only computer-generated graphic in that film. I'll note that the Death Star hologram has the characters interactively working with it--albeit somewhat passively by just zooming on areas of interest. From wikipedia's timeline of early CGI, four of the first six instances of film CGI were used for maps. Groundbreaking computer-generated-imagery film effects seem to have started with maps and virtual globes.
Death Star hologram. source/copyright: www.starwars.com, 2006
Just as a final comment from festival conversations, I saw that Sketchup was used in the film production of "Good Night and Good Luck". In fact, Sketchup has a Film and Stage industry website.
Jeff Bridges and Alan Glennon at the film festival (photo by Rhonda Glennon, 4 Feb 06)
Post a comment if you have a favorite film virtual globe.