10 years google earth flight simulator, December 2016

Pretty much 10 years ago, google earth flight simulator was introduced. It has become great since. There are still some things we would like to have in the wishlist: a much larger local cache file for example or to slow down flying more (a helicopter mode, not only a chesna or fighter jet option). This was recorded on December 7, 2016 for a global multivariable review. It is an other (unsuccessful) attempt to fly the graduate building and Charles bridge. Compare the texture change from "Flying low Google earth 2009", 7 years ago. Background music is "Clocks" by Coldplay.

September 2016

Recorded on September 18, 2016. The Penrose triangle. Here is the Mathematica file which allows export into any 3D format. The DXF file which can be imported into Sketchup from which one can generate The KMZ file which can be imported into google earth. For me, 3dx import (which used to work) does no more work with Sketchup.

July 2016

Capturing some scenes around Harvard yard (recorded on July 10 in a starbucks at Harvard yard) on a macbook. Compare: A recording from 2005 made from a desktop running google earth in VMWare. This is only 11 years. In 2006 (now 10 years ago), Google started to build up 3D buildings (see at the very bottom of this page) but they did not have texture then. one can also see how adding trees and better textures makes the digital rebuild already quite real. (But there are also things which became worse. The digital buildings like the memorial church (seen here in 2009) were better then. Now it obviously was generated automatically.) The following experiment is using a monody sung by Laura Brehm (youtube page), as part of this popular song. In music, a monody is now understood as a solo song which uses simple, expressive harmonies. Historically, it arose around 1600 in Italy and related to madrigal, secular vocal compositions but madrigals have in general several voices, the recitative style of a monody focuses on spoken language, using music to increase the impact of words.
For comparison, here are two screenshots done on July 26, 2016. Lets see how this looks like in 5 years: (click on the picture to see a large version)

Flying in Google earth December 2012

Just did some google earth flying over the break to test a new iMac at home. In the last 2-3 years the hardware did not become faster bit just more gorgeous and cheaper (this imac costed a bit more than half of the 27 inch bought in 2009). The new iMac with built in computer is way slimmer than any computer screen, I have owned. We bought a basic 21 inch with 2.9 Gig Intel Core i5. The machine includes a NVIDIA GeForce GT640M and 8 gig like the other iMac. The bottle neck is definitely the internet connection sucking in the data while flying as well as the cache size in google earth. The details of the buildings in google earth has considerably improved as you can see when comparing the 2009 movie with the one now in full screen Captioning was done with 1442x812 pixels in real time.

Flying low Google earth 2009

A google earth flight done on December 12 2009. Challenges are to fly through through the arches of the Boston Bunker hill bridge, the entrance arc in Boston, the bunker hill monument, between the poles of the air port tower. A nice challenges would be to fly a certain task in the shortest amount of time. Google could have a serious "game" potential here. To build a parcour, I have experimented with "poles" placed with google sketchup. The problem is that flying with google sketch-up objects in the neighborhood slows down things considerably, especially if the machine also records the flights. The textures of the Boston buildings have considerably improved since 2008. Unfortunately, even 8 Gig of memory on the iMac are not enough to prevent frequent texture swap. Google earth has a serious limit on cache (500 Meg memory, 2 Gig Disk) which leads to frequent texture memory loss. The background music for this clip is "Superman" by "Five for fighting" which I got from the soundtrack album of the movie "bandits". Here is a large screen frame of Boston.
Its the time of the year again to do some Google earth flying. The first movie shows additional improvement of the 3D building quality near Cambridge on Google earth since last year. Also the mountain textures in Switzerland are nicer than a few years ago. The clips were done on a 27 inch iMac (Intel i5). Its nice with a large screen with 2560x1440 pixels, but recording large frames in real time also challenges the better hardware more: the recorded movies were 20 rsp 30 GBytes initially before resizing. I still used to have hard drives of this size a couple of years ago. Here is a 2400x1200 pixel picture of Harvard.


Google earth drive over Harvard (no flight simulator, just drifting). a single picture uncropped and unscaled. December 8, 2009 for a math review "screen saver" before lecture of December 9. Background music: Lemon Tree, by Fools Garden.

Google earth "Flight" over Swiss and Italian Mountains, (no flight simulator, just drifting) (Route picture). December 9, 2009 for a math review "screensaver" before lecture of December 10. Background music: Enya: Dreams are more precious.

Google flight simulator flight under the "Menger Sponge" building across the river. December 7, 2009 for a math review. Background music: Queen

Google flight simulator experiments, 2008

Google earth is a wonderful benchmark to see, how technology evolves. To fly in google earth and to record it in the same time pushes consumer hardware to its limits. The Boston movie much further below on this page had been made in 2006 on an G4 iBook, the rheinfall flight (dec 2, 2006) on a Mac Mini. It had been in November 2006, when Google earth first introduced flight simulator features. The recent flight simulator (December 2008) disables to see 3D building but they show, when the user insists. The next 4 flights were recorded on December 24, 2008 on an iMac (3.06 GHz Intel Core 2, with 4 Gig of memory). Google earth has become more realistic and buildings got textured. For the following 4 movies, my iMac recorded Megapixel frames in real time. (see some original frames) The movies have been reduced for the web to a 400x310 pixel size.

Flight through Cambridge, MA, especially Harvard. Music: Bach fugue: Partita, 6.

Flight over New York. Music: "New York, New York" song by Frank Sinatra. Source.

Flight over Zürich. Especially nice flight though the Grossmuenster. Music: Zuerich Lied by Markus Horvath.

Flight over Boston. Music: Via Con me, by Paolo Conte, Source.


Google flight simulator experiments, 2007



Here is an experiment, I made with self-made objects placed on the Harvard Science center in google earth. The objects were made with google sketchup. See the exhibit page for a multivariable calculus course.
Remark added 2008: I liked the early flight simulator because it allowed to fly arbitrarily slowly. The newer implementations are more realistic and like real planes, one has to have a minimal speed in order not to stall the machine. The movie to the right could not be done with current google earth versions.



Added March 2009: Here is a clip made November 3, 2007 shown in a class where a problem appeared with the Matterhorntheme. The movie was made on a white apple ibook.

Google Earth Flight simulator experiments 2006

Early in November 2006, Google earth introduced the flight simulator option into the software. The example to the right shows Boston. This movie was done on a iBook G4 laptop mid December 2006.


Place Link Info
Rheinfall Google Video and page on rheinfall.com with photos. Flight over Schaffhausen, Neuhausen, Flurlingen and Uhwiesen. This movie was done on a Intel Mac Mini (1.6 Gig Intel Core Duo with 1 Gig RAM), on December 2, 2006. Frames were recorded with Snapz Pro in real time. The Background song is Wuthering heights by Kate Bush (1978).
Zürich Page on rheinfall.com with guide how to switch to "flight simulator mode. Also near Zürich, the google maps are quite good. This is a short flight from the rheinfalls to the Zürich Üetliberg. The background song is from "Enya", a sound track of the movie "Gladiator".




An animation of 2005, when no flight simulator was available yet. This was recorded frame by frame grabbing screen pictures.


put online in December 2, 2006, last update, July, 2016