Last week Google released new improved 3D for New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, which they announced on Google+. We had a look at the New York update and GEB reader Piotrek noted that when you enter Street View in New York using Google Earth, the application crashes. We tested it and found that the same problem also occurs in San Francisco. It doesn’t occur everywhere there is new imagery, but seems to be confined to areas with lots of sky scrapers.
With all this new imagery, let’s look around and see what we can see.
From October last year, Google stopped accepting user created 3D models into Google Earth. Instead, they have been rolling out automatically generated 3D imagery. Both the 3D ‘Earth View’ in Google Maps and the mobile version of Google Earth do not show the user created models – sticking to the automatically generated 3D mesh for some cities, and the 3D terrain (from various sources) for the rest of the earth’s surface.
The video is an ode to Google Earth, the band’s long-standing favourite computer program. As cartographic enthusiasts they’ve spent vast amounts of hours over the years excessively exploring its virtual environments. Last year they noticed its crowd sourced 3D modelling project, which allowed the public to recreate the world’s buildings in 3D form, had come to a close. Millions of these CG SketchUp models are now being replaced by auto-generated 3D mesh buildings through photogrammetry technologies.
To farewell these previous crowd sourced 3D creations, the band wished to have a final celebratory song and dance through some of their favourite sites across the virtual globe. A technological last rites before the new dawn.”
With Halloween on Friday, this is a good time to get your pumpkin decorations finished. If you are having trouble covering your house with pumpkins, then why not cover the whole earth with one instead? Back in 2006, Frank created an Earth sized pumpkin that you can download here and view in Google Earth.
Since most of our regular readers will have already seen the Pumpkin Google Earth before, we thought we would add a little extra this year, so grab this KML as well for a bit more Halloween atmosphere. For the best effect be sure to turn off the “Atmosphere”. There are four backgrounds included so try them all out. It is relatively easy to modify the KML and put in your own background images. If you use an image with writing on, be sure to save it as a mirror image.
We have in the past shown you how to turn Google Earth into various other planets including Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. Several of the models come from the Barnabu blog by James Stafford, who also created a comparison of the solar system’s moons, which we covered in 2007.
Now you can explore a number of the solar system’s planets and moons using imagery courtesy of NASA and USGS, which has been published on the Google Maps Gallery by the SETI Institute.
Simply pick a map from here then click the ‘View in Google Earth’ button at the lower right. Turn off any distracting Google Earth layers. Also note that many of the maps have multiple layers that can be turned on or off in Google Earth.
When Google first announced the automatically generated 3D imagery, they said it was generated via stereophotogrammetry from aerial imagery. In our recent post about 3D imagery featuring cruise ships, we explained that it involves taking pictures from different angles and using that to automatically generate the 3D structure. The result of this is that moving objects cannot be captured by this technique. To understand the implications, lets have a look at a few examples around Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, France.
Above left: A moving aircraft on the runway has no 3D at all. Above right: A stationary aircraft is in 3D.
When the aircraft moved during image capturing, we get ghostly effects.
The technique used for creating the 3D does not handle over hangs at all well, which is one reason for even stationary aircraft not looking very good. It is also very noticeable on bridges, and the way trees tend to look like bushes with vertical sides rather than a trunk with overhanging branches.
This water tower demonstrates the problem with overhangs. Above left: Water tower in Street View. Above right: Water tower in 3D.
The water tower above shows six distinct images were used to create the faces of the tower, and possibly a seventh for the top. Two of the faces have much greener grass, and the towers shadow is in a completely different direction so they were taken at a different time of day, from the other four faces.
We have put all the above locations into a KML file. It also includes a number of other notable locations around the world, demonstrating that for intricate structures, Google often manually improves on the models. This is one reason why certain locations take longer to release than others. Bridges, particularly, seem to get a lot of attention, so cities with a large river and lots of bridges can expect to take longer than others.
For more interesting effects, look at one of the above aircraft in Google Maps Earth View by clicking here then try tilting the view and watch the aircraft disappear. Next, rotate the view and see how the aircraft is only partly there.
Also have a look at this aircraft. Note how the same aircraft is parked there in overhead view and the tilted view, but as you rotate, the baggage trucks are in different locations.
If you do not see the compass and ’tilt’ buttons in Google Maps, then it is most likely that you are in Maps’ Lite mode. You can find the minimum system requirements for seeing 3D in Google Maps here.