Google Earth Time Animations

Google Earth has so many features that its hard to keep track of all its capabilities. Some of the features are almost hidden (like the built-in flight simulator) and others require some developer skills to implement. One of the latter examples are Google Earth’s time animations – which first came out with GE version 4.0. Using time animation KML, you can make Google Earth visualizations that animate something over time – animations of 3D objects, image overlays, or other data (e.g. placemarks, lines, polygons). There really are some very cool things you can do with GE time animations.

London Eye animation with Google Earth

One caveat to Google Earth’s time animations is that they can be a little tricky to use. Some important options for time animation even disappeared with GE 5. Hopefully a future version of Google Earth will help eliminate some of the problems and make them more functional. But, even with the drawbacks, the time animations are worth exploring.
Below I list several cool examples of time animations done so far with Google Earth. Once you load an example, hit the “PLAY” button in the time slider in the upper left to start. I recommend you delete the folder containing each loaded time animation after viewing. This will help avoid confusion and save system memory. Also, it may take several runs through an animation before all images/data load. So, give the animation a chance to load before judging how well it works. The following are some of my favorite time animation examples – follow the “blog entry” link for each to read more information and tips:

  1. Hurricane Katrina – By Brian Flood – blog entry

  2. Blue Marble Time Animation – By Frank Taylor and Barry Hunter – blog entry

  3. Clouds of Jupiter – By ‘barnabu’ – blog entry

  4. London Eye (with shadows) by ‘barnabu’ – blog entry

  5. Paleogeographic Animation – By Valery Hrosunov – blog entry

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. Animated windfarm in Bahola, Co.Mayo, Ireland.
    Its very light weight and setup so it can be duplicated via an excel spreadsheet.
    3d warehouse for my animinated wind farm, its quite popular almost 22,000 views, also the only model I have managed to sell even though I been listed on the 3DWH find a modelling service since the start!

  2. The ferris wheel and windmills are incredible! Those are things I’d love to see Google add under 3D buildings by default.
    Old Faithful, anyone?

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