Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Google Earth for Scale: Colossus of Endlesham Road

I really like, a project by the BBC using google maps to illustrate the scale of things e.g. it puts the Apollo 11 moon walk into your local park.

The idea of sticking the statue of liberty or Nelson's column into a figure to show scale is nothing new and is something I do myself in Google Earth, e.g. UK outline vs Gulf oil spill . What's clever about howbigreally is the use of Google maps as a backdrop and some excellent choices of topics to illustrate.

Their examples are all of lengths and areas though, to illustrate the size of the statue of Colossus they show the statue's footprints. It made me think, this would work with 3D topics such as giant statues if it was done in Google Earth with sketchup models. I experimented and the rough and ready result is below:

The (Large 2 Mb) Google Earth file: Colussus

Putting a model in Google Earth to scale wasn't difficult but around where I live, the buildings aren't modelled in 3D so I combined a screenshot of the model in Google Earth with streetview imagery to show the statue in place.

1] Look up Colussus in the sketchup warehouse, (the one I use is courtesy of Goldie). If the model isn't in KMZ format already, load it into sketchup then export to Google Earth (HowTo). Obviously you can put any sketchup model in place, not just Colussus.

2] Once in Google Earth find the size of your model (I looked up Colussus on wikipedia), in this case I knew his height so I produced a placemark and gave it an altitude (in the edit Placemark box > Altitude tab > Relative to Ground (pull down menu), enter height in Altitude box and tick extend to ground box).

3] Right click the model in the places column and click properties. Move the camera until its looking down on the model, you can drag the green box corners, sides and central cross which will alter the size and position of the model. Do so until it matches the height of your placemark and is in the right position.

4] In the properties as above use the green diamond to rotate the model to the correct position.

Automating: Just as howbigreally automates areas and lengths against Google Maps, it would be possible to automate the position of a model like this in Google Earth and produce an automatic tour around it too.

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