Tips for creating historical imagery animations

This post is some tips for creating historical imagery animations using the ‘Historical Imagery Tour Maker’ we released in yesterday’s post.


The Google Earth plugin, like the default setting in Google Earth, tilts the view towards the horizontal as you zoom in close to the ground. In Google Earth you can stop that behaviour in “Tools -> Options -> Navigation -> Navigation”. For the plugin, there is no access to the settings, so, if you want your animation to be from directly overhead, be sure to press ‘u’ on your keyboard to reset the tilt after you have zoomed in to your area of interest. For a list of other Google Earth keyboard shortcuts see this website

Cache the imagery

If you do not have very fast internet, set the ‘step’ to several seconds and click ‘play’ and allow it to cycle through all the imagery in order to cache the imagery before you begin. In addition, when creating your final tour, you can create two versions, one with a long ‘step’ to be run first to pre-cache the imagery, then another to play it at the desired speed.

Maximum speed

If you use a step less than about 750 milliseconds, then Google Earth cannot keep up and will not show all the historical imagery when playing the tour. We are not sure whether this varies depending on your computer’s speed.

Recording Video

We have found that the built-in recording functionality (Tools->Movie Maker) of Google Earth Pro works rather well. However, it removes the historical imagery time bar and the status bar, so you cannot see the dates in the resulting footage. We used the highest quality settings and 10 frames per second. One nice feature of the Movie Maker is that it waits for imagery to load.

Before you start recording, make sure the tour is not set to auto repeat or the recording never stops.

Screen recording software can also be used. Use F11 to go full screen then hide the side bar and tool bar. We don’t know of a way to hide the menu.

Here are a couple of tours we have created:

Get the Google Earth tour here

Get the Google Earth tour here

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. My Google earth pro edition deactivated Show time (always, automatically, never) section. How to active this?

  2. Through animated video maker we can use these images and make a more attractive video i think that will be a good idea

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