Creating ‘fly-by’ videos with Google Earth – UPDATED

Here’s a rough and ready guide to recording ‘fly-by’ videos using the popular Google Earth application. This can be great as an introduction video for someone visiting an event from elsewhere around the world or as a backdrop to a phone interview etc. I have found it is much more engaging than a simple map slide.

Everyone who has seen Google Earth thinks it’s fantastic. Especially when you show them it zooming out and off to somewhere remote around the globe.

Here’s how to ‘capture’ that in a video and use it as an intro or a background video for a speaker or an interview.
The trick is to use placemarks to mark the detination. then you can do a ‘tour’ to them.

1. move manually to where you want to end up. get the position and the zoom right.
3. give it a name
4. select the view tab and click on the ‘snapshot current view’ button. This saves the zoom info WITH the placemark, so every time you go to that placemark it will always zoom to the same scale.
5. Go to ‘style, colour’ tab and make the label scale big enough to see well on a video clip (i.e. bigger than the default)
6. Your new placemark will be saved in the places tab.
7. Go to the ‘layers’ tab and turn off unwanted layers, so that you don’t clutter up the view. I usually turn off terrain and all places except capitals. It’s useful to have borders and capitals on as you fly around the globe.
8. Now go and do the same thing for your source view i.e. set a placemark for where you want to start from.
9. Also you may want to adjust some of the GE properties in TOOLS OPTIONS to give you the best ‘flyby’ experience. e.g.
– turn off the navigator, make the cache REALLY big (so you cache the whole flight), up the font sizes, change the ‘flying’ speed, scale the overview map etc. etc. Just play with the settings till you get something that works for you.

Now, by just double-clicking on the placemarks in the places tab you should be able to fly between the two places with a nice zoom out zoom in effect. If you want to get fancy you can add multiple ‘waypoint’ placemarks and use the ‘view tour’ feature to move between them. One example of this would be to zoom off round the globe and pause on the overall country for a second, then zoom in on the region or city of interest etc.

Now…. how to get this into a video clip?

There probably are ways to do a full-motion screen capture to video using something like Snapz Pro (on a Mac) or Camtasia (Mac or PC), but since I don’t have either of those I just set my second monitor output to TV out, adjusted the google earth window to fill the second monitor (while leaving the ‘places’ tab still on the first monitor, so I could control it) and recorded the flyby to miniDV tape. I then captured it back in to a video clip.
Pretty low-tech I know, but it worked OK.
I would be interested if anyone has found a better way to ‘record’ the screen to make a video file.

UPDATE: a poster on this thread suggested using the shareware app Fraps (PC only) to capture the GE screen. This app was designed to work with PC games, but as it turns out this works FANTASTICALLY well, saving a high-res video file of JUST the GE map, with none of the menu or toolbar etc. If you are on a PC this is definitely the way to go, and saves all that recording-out-and-capture-in nonsense that I did. Cool!

Finally, here’s a link to createdigitalmotion for an article on someone using Google Earth in a more abstract way for VJ imagery

UPDATE: I should have mentioned, of course, that you should RESIST any temptation to blur out or crop out the Google Logo or copyright – Google are apparently quite happy for images etc. to be used for non-commercial purposes, as long as you keep the attribution and copyright info intact.

UPDATE: Since posting this I have come across the Windows Media Encoder tool from Microsoft for the PC which is free and has a screen capture option that actually works rather well. (Yes I was surprised too.) I haven’t tried it with Google Earth yet, but it should be fine. Let me know if you try it and it works for you.

You DO have to fiddle a bit with the settings (the default compression setting for screen captures uses FAR too little bandwidth and you have to up it to around 2000Kbps, assuming you are playing back from HD.) but it can give good results.


4 Responses to Creating ‘fly-by’ videos with Google Earth – UPDATED

  1. […] like Phil says, Google Earth has what you need. Here’s how you create the fly-by video. My Signature Bob […]

  2. […] Here’s a blog entry telling how to do it. My Signature Joel Osborn __________ If life gives you gators, make gatorade.       […]

  3. […] a blog entry that goes through it in detail Creating ‘fly-by’ videos with Google Earth – UPDATED Joel Osborn __________ If life gives you gators, make gatorade. […]

  4. Mike says:

    This is GOLD.

    I wonder and therefore suggest:

    Describe a little better what you mean by “end up” as this creates initial confusion and dilutes the great explanation.

    Do you mean “Frame Google Earth into the final stopping point of your tour FIRST”?

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