Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Creating Tours HowTo 3: Adding Audio

This is the third part of a series on creating tours: Part 1(Simple Tour), Part 2 (Adding Elements)

Adding an audio commentary:
Once a tour has been produced you can add an audio commentary recording over the original as described in this Google Outreach tutorial. Adding audio in this way is easy but the quality of the commentary can be improved if you write a script. The work flow I've evolved to do this:
  1. Record a tour without audio as in the 'Adding Elements HowTo'. Don't add any placemark text notes and save it to the places column.
  2. Run through the tour recording how long each segment of the tour takes. A segment could be something like the flight from a high view of the UK down to a view of the Houses of Parliament.
  3. Work out exactly what you will say in the time the segment takes. E.g. 'now we fly down to view the Houses of Parliament', test your words to see they fit the time slot.
  4. Repeat from [2] each segment of the tour to build up a script to use in recording the audio commentary.
  5. Set the tour playing but then click the record audio tour button as described in the Google Outreach tutorial. Google Earth will play your original audio free tour and record you reading out your script as well.
  6. You may find you don't get the audio correct first time even when you've worked out a script. In this case close the tour dialogue at the bottom of the screen with the cross then double click the tour in the places column and have another go. When you're happy, click the disc icon in the tour dialog to save the tour.
Editing a Tour: Just as you can add audio to a tour using the Google Earth client, you can also add extra sections to it (scroll down the tutorial page to learn how). I don't advise doing this, you can add to a tour but it isn't possible to edit parts of the tour (e.g. change the view) or delete sections without getting into XML editing. Not being able to properly edit a tour limits the use of being able to add extra sections. Another Virtual Globe (ArcGIS Explorer) has added the ability to edit tours in this way (although in Explorer they are called presentations), so I'm optimistic we will see this ability in GEarth soon.


Jim Gates said...

So then, this means that you can't record the tour with audio the first time through? Maybe THAT's why I can see the movements but have no audio when I save the kmz. It plays fine for me but when I save it and send to someone else there is no audio.

Not a very friendly process, is it? Thanks for the post.

Rich Treves said...


No, you can record audio as you navigate, it just doesn't make for a very polished presentation - I find its beyond me to navigate around AND comment intelligently as I do so.

I have encountered problems where I record an audio tour, edit the kml and then upload it back to GEarth. However, recording voice and saving it as a kmz works all the time for me.


Jim Gates said...

I don't know what we're doing wrong, but when we give our KMZ files to other people, our audio is NOT there. Nor do our balloons open when we land on our Placemarks. They all play fine for us on our own machines, however. We can save our tours, shut down, and play them later on our own machines and they work fine,. But save and send them to someone else and they don't work.

We've got the "Show balloon while waiting at features" checked, and we've played around with the timing of the pauses at each feature. Can you think of any other preference that may be causing this, perhaps?

Any other readers who have experienced this issue and found the solution?

Unknown said...

You could just use cam studio to record whatever you are doing on your laptop as a wma then put it into windows movie maker so that you can edit record sound music etc.
check out my tour of Belfast using this
make sure you chose the HQ setting at youtube.
Also my website:
All the best
Richard Webb

Rich Treves said...


Recording as video has advantages and disadvantages. Chief advantages of tours:
- the user can pause and fly around GEarth for a closer look of something in the tour
- much smaller file size to save and host


Steve O. said...


New here so I may be jumping into the middle of a dialogue without enough info. I have the same issue with my students and their kmz files not being complete.

You've probably thought of this, but make sure you drag your tour into the original kmz folder you created, then save the entire folder (with tour inside) as a kmz file. The folder has all the placemarks, etc., and when you play it on your machine it may default to automatically loading those items. However another computer does not have those things to access.

Just a suggestion.

Wallace said...

With regards to layering multiple audio tracks ... (mentioned in the Outreach tutorial that was sited)... I am pretty sure it doesn't work. The second time you record the audio it just replaces the associated .mp3 file.
Hope I'm wrong and someone will tell me why. (Didn't know where else to post this comment.)