Digital Earths - Rendering
JC Francois's site NoirExtreme was a life saver when i found i had to step into give a lecture to the British Council on Global Warming.
This obviously requires a highly polished visualisation of the earth linking data relevant to climate change and thus demonstrating how new technologies cna be used to inform the public. Its a no brainer to use Google Earth but for a intro movie 3D Max can produce a more professional output.
Francois has a tutorial on creating a digital earth complete with lens flare - allowing a intro movie to be rendered overnight in time for the mornings talk.
Google Earth is impressive but for pure visualisation you cant beat a good rendering in 3DMax.