Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HowTo: Create a Simple Tour

UPDATE 23/7/09: I've now produced a more up to date tutorial that describes an easy way of setting up camera views for a tour (named 'HowTo 1' as it describes the first of a series I'm producing).

The instructions Google provide for the tour functionality in GEarth 5.0 are OK if you want to create a tour around a geographical feature in GEarth such as Mt Everest but often you want to annotate your tour or turn placemarks on or off e.g. to show photos such as this one:

In this tutorial I'll talk you how to best create an annotated tour like this one. Don't be put off by the tutorial length, I've just been detailed in places so as not to confuse people, its not really that complex:
  1. Create a folder (in places column click a folder such as 'Temporary Places', click 'Add' in the menu bar and select folder).
  2. Create placemarks, polygons or other elements to be included in the tour (see buttons on the top of the main screen). I've created a tour of Cleobury Mortimer in the UK with placemarks with photos in them and a polygon showing the rough extent of the town.
  3. Check the elements are in your new folder (if you click the minus in a square to the left of your folder they should shrink up into the folder). If they aren't, simply drag and drop them into the folder.
  4. Turn all the elements you have created off by unticking the tick box to their left
  5. Click your folder so it has a blue background then click the 'Record a tour' button in the main button bar above the main screen. It's a video cam icon.
  6. Click the red 'record' button in the box that appears bottom left
  7. Move to a position where you can see an interesting view associated with your first placemark (or other element) you created to be in the tour .
  8. Turn the placemark or element on. If its a placemark you may want to click it in the places column to view the pop up balloon too. You may want to turn it off again before moving to the next step but you can choose what you do and the tour will still work.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for all the elements in your tour.
  10. Click the record button again to stop the tour. It should play what you've just recorded. If you're happy with it, click the disk icon in the tour control box bottom left. If not close the tour control box and return to step 5.
  11. The tour should appear in your new folder. Turn off (i.e. untick) all the elements in your folder except the tour. Then right click your folder > Save Place as, then save the folder as a file to somewhere sensible.
You can now email it or post the file you've created on the web. It will contain your tour and all the elements you created to be in the tour.

  • Creating the folder is necessary to ensure all the elements in the tour are sent with the tour. My making you turn each element on ensures that the element control works properly and also can be useful when you have lots of data to show - you build the complex map up part by simple part.
  • Step 11 is needed so that when the user open's your file then only the tour is clicked. The replay will get mangled if you don't have the tour in this state.
  • If you want to use elements from the GEarth layers column then you must copy them into your created folder. Many placemarks in the Layers column can be simply copied (right click > copy) to your new folder. This does not mean that it is legal to do this, I'm not a lawyer so I can't advise on the legaility of doing this.
  • You can also record historical data and other clever things in tours but I thought I'd stick to simple things to start with. A simple and very useful next step is to click the microphone button instead of the simple record button and record audio narration of your tour.
  • Those who are happy to edit kml files can manually edit tours. John Bailey will probably produce a guest post here in the future about such advanced tour production.
  • If you have multiple files open with multiple tours you could have problems playing tours. If things aren't working as they should, make sure you close the tour box (bottom left) before opening any other file with a tour in it.


Harold Olejarz said...


Did you have audio in your tour? If so I did not hear it.

Rich Treves said...

No, this is tour101, so I kept it as simple as possible. I wanted people to have a go at a tour without audio first so my own tour also didn't have one.

Unknown said...

Once you have your tours recorded, can you publish them on your website?

Rich Treves said...

marijana, yes, once saved as a .kmz you can post to your website just as you would any other file. Your website must have MIME types set up to handle .kmz and .kml though.


web design quote said...

Its really nice tutorial and i thin this tutorial will help me to understand each and every thing about how to create a simple tour. Thanks for sharing.

obiewahn said...

I've been wanting to make a tour of the places that I can remember where I've lived all my life. I've had them pinpointed since previous versions of GEarth. This looks like I might be able to understand it enough, to be able to accomplish it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This tudorial was great! I was working on a project, a tour, and I need to add photos of my placemarks. Do you know how to do that?

PrajK said...

Hi. I know this is Tour 101, but do you have any recommendations on how to incorporate a song/audio into a tour? I searched for a while and oculdn't find a simple tutorial. Thanks.

bridget said...

Hi, I'm having a problem with the annotations. I -believe- I am following your steps to a T, but the tour is not recording any of the annotations I've made (like picture layers, screen overlays, paths, points, etc.)- eek!! There are no other tours open or present. Can you offer any help? I'm working on a class presentation. Thanks!

Rich Treves said...


Turning annotations on and off in GE tours can be flakyI'm afraid. Try removing everything from the places column to do with the tour and start again.

Preston said...

Hi Rich,
I am creating a tour of historic landmarks in L.A. I want to view the buildings from street level at each stop in the tour. However, if I move to street level while the tour is being recorded, it looks a little sloppy. Is there a way to pause the tour and pick up when you're ready to show the next stop on your tour? I'm using placemarks, and all the points on the tour are in the same tour folder.


Preston said...

Nevermind. I figured it out from your updated tutorial - I just selected "Snapshot view" for each placemark. THanks!

Now the only other question I have is that when i am "flying" to the next location with the placemark selected, it shows the balloon with that placemark. I don't want to show the balloon, but I still want to show the name of the placemark (i.e. have it be selected). Is there a way to do that?

Thanks a million!

Rich Treves said...


Not entirely sure this is the answer but here goes: To fly to a point without opening a balloon double click on the placemark icon in the places column. If its ticked in the places column the name will be visible.

Unknown said...

I am having problems. I have multiple parts in my tour. I want to merge them so that they are one tour, with audio. Is there a way to do this?

Rich Treves said...

Yes but very fiddly. Start recording and then play your sub tours one by one. It should be possible to create one tour from this, I haven't had success though