Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flat Earth II

A while back I discussed the advantages of a flat version of Google earth inspired by the movie clip above. You can do it via the Maps API for flash but that requires technical knowledge. A much easier way to do it is to put a world map in Google Earth as an overlay and add placemarks and loops (loops howto). I recently did this for a client, here's a stripped down version

The nice thing about it is that you could put all kinds of world maps in then narrate them with a Google Earth tour. So you could show a thematic map illustrating how much aid per country is being given to Haiti, then fly into Haiti on the Globe to see how the money was being spent.

Trick for the KML savvy: If you produced a tour that flew from a flat view like this out to country, you can edit the tour flyto so that it happens in a fraction of a second, users would then be unaware they'd flown out of a model map to get to Haiti.

Better than Screen Overlay: It makes for a better presentation than a screen overlay because you can add any sort of element above the ground overlay including loops, placemarks (as I've done here) and even other screen overlays.

Flat Map with Tours: One of the good things about this idea is that you can present a flat overview with 3D features like loops or Sketchup Models and in a tour, fly from the flat map out to the globe and zoom in on a particular country. So you could start with a thematic map showing how much individual countries were donating to Haiti then switch back out to the 'real' Google Earth and fly in on Haiti itself to see how the money was being spent.

Tip for the KML Savvy: You could even edit the flyto tag speed to be a fraction of a second, this would take the viewer from the flat map to a high view above the country without them even being aware that they've moved between transitions.


Rich Treves said...

I forgot to add, the second youtube clip was recorded by using the movie maker feature of Google Earth Pro in conjunction with tours. Much better quality and less fiddly than other ways of creating film clips.

Steve31530 said...

This is great! I have been struggling with the idea of trying to do flat earth views when all I know is KML.

I assume that you could take a mercator map and place it with a centre as lat = 0 long =0 and then +/- 1.8deg long +/- 0.9 deg lat.

In this way it would be fairly easy to scale from "real world" Lat & Long down to the "flat earth" Lat & Long.

What happens about loops that should take the short path around the world but actual have to cross the whole flat map?

Rich Treves said...

putting your map at 0,0 isn't as handy as you'd think, the fact that your map is at sea level with a deep ocean below means the navigation 'feels' odd. Pop a map there and you'll see what I mean. It's pretty easy maths to scale down then add a constant to put the map wherever you want.

Not sure what you mean by loops question, can you create an example?