Mini-planets – or stereographic projections, to give them their proper names – are currently sweeping the internet and creative scene. For example, Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers promo used the technique. The basic idea is that you take an image of a landscape and use Photoshop’s Polar Coordinates filter to transform it into a miniature planet.

In this tutorial, Sam Hampton-Smith use a section of footage, kindly provided by Artbeats (artbeats.com), to create a mini-planet cityscape that’s spectacularly illuminated by fireworks. You’ll learn the basics of mini-planet creation and how to prepare your clip. The shot Sam uses here is static, but having a track or pan in your original shot also gets some great results.

Step 1
Create a new project in After Effects and import your source footage – we’ve included a clip – named AC114H-HalfSize.mov – to download from our website. Choose File > Import Footage > File and locate the AC114H file. Create a new 720p composition by choosing Composition > New Composition, and set the length to 15 seconds.


Step 2
Drag the source footage into your composition. Select the footage layer and press R to open the Rotation properties. We need to rotate the footage to be upside down ahead of creating our planet. Anything at the top will appear in the centre of the planet, anything at the bottom around the outside. Set the rotation to 180º then choose Layer > Pre-Compose. Be sure to tick Move All Attributes when pre-composing.