Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Talk in Google Earth: HowTo

Yesterday I was one of 4 speakers at an outreach event run by Southampton University on the topic of 'Use and Misuse of the Oceans' for Year 10 students. The keynote speaker was Chris Packham who was mobbed for his signature all day. He was kind enough to compliment me on my talk which I'd done completely in Google Earth.

Screen shot from the talk showing the rough location of Lake Aggassiz, the Laurentian ice sheet and outflow routes during the last ice. This lake sometimes breached its banks catastrophically and the rush of fresh water to the NE Atlantic may have interrupted the North Atlantic drift.

The key reason for doing this was that my talk discussed geographical/oceanographic features that varied from thousands of km down to a few m in size and also that the spatial relationship of the features to each other was important. However, there were a few difficulties with giving the talk totally in GE:
  1. GE is prone to crash with the amount of data I had produced for the talk
  2. Motion in GE on a laptop is liable to be 'choppy' because of the lack of a powerful graphics card
  3. There was no wireless in the venue

My solution was to record the talk using GE and Fraps as little movie clips then to combine them together as one movie clip. It sort of worked. The problem is that whilst Fraps records the Google Earth background very well it fails to capture images and movie clips embedded in pop up bubbles so these have to be linked separately. Also, working video controls in the actual talk (play and pause) proved tricky, a slideware navigation system (next, back) is much easier. Another feature of this approach was that navigating the movie clip introduced little gaps in the movies as I struggled to synchronize what I was saying with the events on screen, Chris said he thought it actually helped as it allowed the school kids to process what was happening but I would like to be more in control of the action.

A solution to this is:
1] Produce talk in Google Earth
2] Record GE transitions (i.e. flying from space to Plockton on the West Coast of Scotland) using Fraps as .avi movie files.
3] Import .avi files into separate slides in powerpoint.
4] Find youtube videos and convert and download to .avi files using Vixy
(note I haven't used it but it looks better than the process I used)
5] Embed those .avi files as separate slides

I'll be releasing the KMZ file of the talk at a later date, I want to polish it a little more.

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