Monday, February 29, 2016

Three Types of Google Earth Tour

I happen to have been thinking about the different types of Google Earth tour recently.  I've come up with three main types:

3D Flyover:
This type uses just camera motion and is through an area of significant topography (think mountain range) or other 3D structure (think buildings or Geology).  Its immersive in the sense that it is close to flying through the actual landscape presented.  Here's an example:

I think this type is a bit old, people were very excited by them when they were first possible but now we've all grown used to Google Earth they don't impress that much anymore.

Map Tour:
In this type the viewer is flown from location to location with other media being used e.g. photos or overlays on the topography.  It may use other map animations such as time animations but these are more minor.  It doesn't really try to be immersive, the power of the camera movement is to explain the relative locations of things or to illustrate maps over two or more scales.  A couple of examples:

Time tour:
This final type is more an animated map than a tour, it is mainly time animation with camera motion being a less significant animation type.  Like the map tour, it doesn't aim for an immersive experience but instead uses Google Earth as a base map on which to present thematic data over time.  A good example is this sea ice animation from NSIDC: