British Columbia

Planet Earth in 4K video goes interstellar with 1M views on YouTube

Victoria man James Tyrwhitt-Drake used HD images from a Russian satellite to create an incredibly detailed view of Earth from space.

B.C. man James Tyrwhitt-Drake used images from Russian satellite to create HD view of Earth from space

A Victoria man's HD video showing Earth from space in incredible detail has been viewed more than one million times online.

James Tyrwhitt-Drake, a graduate student at the University of Victoria dedicated himself to compiling the high-definition images, which he sourced from Russian authorities.

Tyrwhitt-Drake told On The Island's Sterling Eyford it all started with one simple image back in 2011.

"I found an image of the Earth, and it was a small corner of the Earth and you could see the moon in the background," he said.

"Then I found the same image, but it was the whole [of] Earth and I thought, 'Wow, this must be a really high resolution picture.'"

Tyrwhitt-Drake traced the image to a Russian weather satellite called Elektro-L.

"I found out where their data was processed and I wrote an email. I translated it into Russian and then I translated it back into English to make sure it made sense," he said.

A few months later, Tyrwhitt-Drake received access to gigabytes of high-resolution images from the satellite, which remains in the same position relative to the Earth due to the speed of its orbit.

Tyrwhitt-Drake said he spent about three months in all going through the photos and creating a timelapse, which he originally released on YouTube in 2011.

But his real luck came when YouTube recently launched a higher resolution option for its users, called 4K.

"I came back to the data and I reprocessed it, and I did a little bit more just to make it more perfect," said Tyrwhitt-Drake.

He re-released the video, which is posted in two different resolutions,  and has now been seen more than a million times.

"For me, it's really a passion. It's something that I find very fun, and it's kind of addictive as well," he said.

To hear more about the Planet Earth in 4K video, click the audio labelled: UVic student's high-def space video goes viral.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.