More Innovative Time Animation Examples for Google Earth

The new Google Earth 4 Beta (4.0.209x) has a feature allowing objects to have time stamps. When you have a KML GE file loaded with time stamps you will see the time slider gadget appear in the upper right of the GE window (to the left of the nav gadget). It turns out you can put time stamps on placemarks, GPS tracks, polygons, pictures, and even 3D models. NOTE: you should only load one time enabled KML file at a time (i.e. delete each one before loading the next). Otherwise the time slider shows the span of time over all loaded KML.
The new time feature in GE 4 has all kinds of potential for multimedia georeferenced presentations. I am so glad Google implemented it. Here are some of the most interesting new examples sent to me over the last few days (you must have the latest GE 4 beta installed):

  • Death Valley Video  in Google EarthDeath Valley Driving Video – Virgil at took some video recently while driving through Death Valley. He also had a GPS. He geotagged screen captures from the video and created a time stamped GE file. The result is you can watch his drive and see shots from the video with the time slider. See his blog post. Great work, and a great idea! I love this mixture of GPS, video, pictures, and GE.
  • Spread of Avian Flu – Declan Butler’s Avian Flu map for GE has been evolving during the last year. It shows the places avian flu cases have been reported (bird and human cases). Declan has now time stamped the data and you can view it with the slider. In this case, I suggest you click on the little clock on the left side of the slider gadget and choose the “Clamp beginning of time window.” option for the best effect. Make the slider span small to start and then click on the “Play” button on the right side of the time gadget to start the animation playback. You will then witness the spread of avian flu. See Declan’s blog post for more. Amazing! (NOTE: make sure you turn off the “Clamp begginging of time window” when you are done.).
  • Growth of Costco Retail Store – Beau Gunderson wrote to tell me about this excellent example showing the spread of a retail store as it has grown across the US. I expect many businesses will begin to realize the power of GE for presentation purposes.
  • Mt. St. Helens Minor Eruption Video – Another example of video content using the slider. Make sure you select a small range in the slider, then hit the play button. It shows several captures of pictures/video showing a minor eruption at Mt. St. Helens. From this GEC post, thanks to GEB reader ‘pmaxfield2’.

[Update 1155 ET: See OgleEarth’s commentary on some of these collections and his suggestions for improvements to the new time feature in Google Earth. Which I agree with. I would also add a way to have individual time spans for different KML “folders” in the places pane.]

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Jarno Peschier says:

    I would very much like an extra option in the options screen (when you click on the small clock) that enables you to accurately and precisely set the width of the viewable time slot. I have created a set of data showing places I worked and were I lived. This spans quite a large time frame (about 1990 or so to present) with often a span at work of only a few weeks or even days. I would like to set the slider to a period of one day or week and move that around or animate it, so I get a sort of accurate picture of my daily commuting distance/route. This is really impossible since only one pixel of width on the time selector equals a period of months. A way to set such a very small width accurate (and a way to drag such a small time window using the mouse without dragging either of the endpoints…) would be really welcome.

  2. Man…sounds like a magic map from one of the Harry Potter books.

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