Google has added thousands of new buildings to the 3D Buildings layer including 4 cities in Japan with dozens of city blocks where all the buildings are rendered in 3D, more Disney content for Orlando, nearly 4000 new 3D Warehouse models all over the planet, and more! The new coverage in Japan include: Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto. The new 3D buildings are covered in photorealistic textures using some automated method. (NOTE: most Japan cities were already rendered with gray non-photo-textured buildings, the new buildings replace those in the areas where they have coverage.) You can see samples of the new cities here (I recomment watching it in HD):
In Orlando, Disney has added the Wide World of Sports complex to the already huge number of 3D models for the main DisneyWorld in 3D.
Google has been slowly adding cities using an unpublished methodology where vast numbers of buildings for large areas of cities are being rendered in 3D with photorealistic textures. The photos appear to be aerial in some cases, in others they seem to be from the ground. But, they are using an at least semi-automated process judging from the cases where some buildings are not properly “dressed” with the photo textures. In December Google added New York City in 3D. Here’s a round up of cities which have the photorealistic 3D treatment, with the exception of these two which were added later.
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.
That quality of 3D buildings chosen by Google seems to be degrading quite rapidly. There’s some truly awful stuff appearing in my home city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England.