Monday, July 6, 2009

Creating Tours HowTo 1

I've been working with tours a lot recently. I've previously blogged about how to produce what I called a simple tour, but I've decided to rewrite my advice based on my extra experience. In the near future I'm going to be writing a couple of these Tour HowTos, this first one is aimed at a level of use below than the earlier 'simple tour'.

A simple fly through tour: Producing a tour is wonderfully simple, an example would be a flight to show the physical landscape in the Grand canyon as in the video above. Effective instructions on how to produce such a tour are here from Google.

Producing a Smooth Flight: To produce such a tour you can simply use the mouse controls but you will get a better quality flight if you use a 3DConnexion mouse. If you don't have one or another way of improving the quality of the tour is to produce placemarks which serve just as camera viewpoints and use them to record the tour. To do this:
  1. Fly to the first camera viewpoint you wish to capture for your tour.
  2. Create a new placemark, name it something like 'View 1' and click 'OK'
  3. In the places column right click the placemark and select 'Snapshot View'. This associates the current view with that placemark.
  4. Fly to a new position and repeat from step [2]
  5. Repeat for as many viewpoints as you wish to create
  6. Now untick the placemarks you've created in the places column.
  7. double click the text of the placemark in the places column and you will fly to the view but without seeing the actual placemark.
if you double click these placemarks whilst recording a tour, a smooth flight to the camera view will be recorded in the tour. The tour can be made up of a series of flights between such camera views.

This isn't the most elegant way of recording a tour, writing the code directly would be better but many people don't have the skills for doing that in which case this is a sensible approach.


Vincent Chiaro said...

Thanks for the great tutorial!

How did you export the tour to a youtube video?

Rich Treves said...

search my blog for Fraps and you'll find a tutorial (maybe a little out of date now)

Vincent Chiaro said...

Thanks for your help Rich! I downloaded the free Fraps but it's limited too short to record my whole tour (2 minutes). Also, I have a large sketchup file of a downtown area (about 10 square city blocks) and for some reason Google Earth is very choppy when playing my tour. It's even choppy when I take out all the sketchup models, so it seems to be a Google Earth issue? The framerate drops to about 4 fps during some parts of the tour. It's weird too cause I tried this on 2 different systems, a Macbook Pro Core 2 Duo w/4 GB RAM and 256 MB video and a Dell Core 2 Duo with 4 GB ram with 512 MB video.

I already have Google Earth Pro so I'm just going to use the movie maker in that which I didn't know was there until I read your post! It takes longer, but the end result is super smooth because it stops and takes a snapshot for each frame and you can set it to stay at 30 fps.

Tap said...

Just curious. Is there a way to create a tour during which the user can control the camera view (rather than the camera being set to a fixed position or on rails)?

Rich Treves said...


Yup. You simply start navigating and the tour will pause itself. What's nice about this is that when you press play to restart the tour, GEarth flies you back to where you left off and restarts the tour from there.

if you search for tour and pause on the blog I think you will find a post I did about just this issue and how potentially useful it could be.

Tim Luukkonen said...

I used a similar technique for producing smooth flight without coding. I drew a "flight" path and set the altitude to 16m and "relative to ground". Then I set the paths opacity to 0 so it was invisible. Just play the path and record as it goes. Here is the GE tour of our hike down the Grand Canyon.

Preston said...

Hi there,
I'm having a problem playing back my recorded tour (kmz file). When I play it back, the street view images from the tour are in low resolution. I am using the GE Pro Free trial version, which I thought would make the images have better res, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

Rich Treves said...


Afraid you only get low res images in streetview in tours. Why don't you request it of Google?