DigitalGlobe, AEgis, NBC Make 3D Olympics

DigitalGlobe, AEgis, NBC Olympics in Google EarthDigitalGlobe, AEgis Technologies and NBC have combined forces and created a series of 3D models of the venues of the Beijing Olympics. This is a separate effort from the 3D models released recently by Google. They have created a special website to highlight this new 3D Beijing content which includes the ability to download some of the models in either Adobe 3D PDF, or KMZ files (currently only 1) suitable for viewing in Google Earth (NOTE: many of the buildings are already modeled in Google’s content, so turn off the 3D Buildings layer to make sure you’re looking at these versions).
Brady Forest at O’Reilly Radar posts details on the technology used to create these models. It’s a combination of satellite photos, elevation data, ground-based photography, and 3D building extraction from photos (photogrammetry). Microsoft uses a similar approach for their 3D buildings data for Virtual Earth, except they are using even higher resolution photos from aerial photography (also used for their Bird’s Eye imagery). My first thought is that this new DG/AEgis technology might be the technique used in Google’s new 3D buildings which started appearing with Google Earth 4.3 (see thoughts about this). However, if you look closely at the textures of the new buildings – it’s clear Google’s new buildings were done with aerial photography, not satellite (looking at reflections of buildings). One thing is clear, the ability to generate 3D buildings using more automated techniques – and making them available to the public – is definitely becoming more commonplace. It won’t be long before we all expect to see 3D cities rendered in our 3D maps.

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. I want to use gogle earth for hme use.

Leave a Reply