Create a Video from a Bike Route Tour Using Google Earth

This is part three of a three part series in which I show how to use Google Earth to create an automated flythrough tour, a curated tour, and a video of a tour. For background, please see my post on a comparison of route mapping websites. See also part one and part two of this series.

Once you’ve created a tour, either manually or automatically, creating a video from it is quite simple. Select the Movie Maker command from the Tools menu in Google Earth.

Google Earth Movie Maker dialog

Google Earth Movie Maker dialog

First, you need to select the tour from which the video will be made so click the dropdown next to “A saved tour”  and select your tour. Tours from My Places and Temporary Places will be shown, but Temporary Places are exactly that and will be lost if you exit Google Earth.

Second, you need to specify the name and location of the video file so click the Browse button in the “Save to” group, navigate to the folder in which you want to save, and type in the name of the video file.

Now, there are other obviously options available here, but I’m not an expert. To be honest, I really don’t know anything about the Supported Compression Formats so I’ll say anything about that. However, you do need to pay attention to the Resolution and FPS (frames per second). Resolution is how many pixels (width by height) the movie should. Computer monitors vary a great deal (typically from 640 to 1920 or more pixels wide). For comparison, DVD is 720 pixels wide and HD video is 1920 by 1080. The FPS affects how smooth the video looks to the eye, i.e. the more FPS, the smoother it will appear. You may be thinking that you’ll just choose the highest settings, but there is a definite tradeoff. Creating these videos takes an enormous amount of processing power and the higher resolutions will take much, much longer to process. I have a recent, quad-core, 64-bit processor with integrated graphics processor and it doesn’t seem to process very fast on my machine. I notice that it doesn’t seem to load all of the cores so I suspect that it is limited by graphics processor more than the CPU. Those of you with hot video cards may find processing to be quicker than my experience. Another consideration is that the higher resolutions will create larger files. Now, most people have hard drives which are hundreds of gigabytes, so local storage is probably not a big issue. But if you’re thinking to upload to YouTube or some other service, the transmission time will increase with file size. I recommend that you experiment with the different settings using a short tour and figure out your preferences before committing to a long process.

Once you’ve got the settings where you want them, all you have to do is click the OK button and stand back. Google Earth will play through your tour and record the frames into the video as it goes. Once done, it will ask you if you want to view the video. That’s it; you have a video of your bike route virtual tour.

If anyone stumbles across this and finds it useful, please leave me a comment to let me know.


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