Monday, March 02, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Google Earth Pro for free: 3D model of each building, tree on Earth

One month ago, I read an article and downloaded Google Earth Pro. It normally costs $399 a year except that incredibly enough, Google made this application fre..

Click the image for a higher resolution picture of the center of Pilsen.

Once you download the Google Earth Pro (GEP) 7.1, you may register your copy and use GEPFREE as the key (the user name should be your e-mail if you're respectful enough). It works and only occupies 100 MB or so (plus cache if you like it) on your hard drive.

For weeks, I couldn't see any difference. But today, I randomly clicked a KML file created by "Run the Map", a Windows Phone app on my Lumia that records the GPS coordinates of your trips.

And shockingly enough, it opened in Google Earth Pro that suddenly showed the 3D models of all buildings, including the least important houses and concrete blocks (and trees and cars). Everything is animating very quickly and it looks amazing – almost photo realistic. I believe that they must reverse engineer the shape of all the buildings from the Street View photographs – which probably contain more information than just "photographs".

Update: Yes, this conjecture seems to be confirmed by a nontrivial test. Countries that are less high tech than Czechia, for example France, don't show fancy 3D buildings at generic places... And holy cow, even New Jersey (Rutgers, Busch Campus) seems to be mostly flattened, only using the old 3D models of a few buildings. So maybe it's right to say that Google Earth Pro only works properly for the Czech Republic. ;-) Another correction: Paris looks fine with 3D of everything, small Czech towns are flat.

I recommend you to download the software and try it, the probability is high that you will be amazed.

To see the full PRO experience with the 3D models of everything and everywhere that differs from the good old amateurish Google Earth, be sure that you check "terrain", the last among the "layers" in the left sidebar menu of Google Earth. That option is completely absent in the amateurish Google Earth.

As far as I can see, checking the first layer "Earth Pro (USA)" only adds some thin lines around the roads etc.

With that software, you will be able to view – and record – videos like this one from Pennsylvania

but from every place of the globe! Just to be sure, this video

of the center of Pilsen was recorded by your humble correspondent. First, I pressed the tool button "camcorder" which "records a tour". A red record button (start/stop) appears in the lower left corner of the 3D map. To create a movie file, go to Tools / Movie Maker and choose a file format (WMV 9 higher, in my case), resolution (800 x 600 is chosen above), file name, and source (which may be a tour prerecorded by the "camcorder" button from the previous sentence; or something that you realize in real time with your keyboard and mouse).

Add to Digg this Add to reddit

snail feedback (10) :

reader Philippe said...

Dear Lubos,

Are you sure you need the pro version to get the 3d buildings ? I downloaded the standard version several months ago, and i had already this feature. For your information, all main cities in Switzerland have this feature. Here is for example, a screenshot of the cathedral of Lausanne :

reader Luboš Motl said...

Why don't you fucking try to look at generic places, like the center of Pilsen from this very blog post, before you write dumb comments?

All the 3D buildings in your version are manually built, and they only include a limited number of buildings. In the PRO version, I have whole cities.

reader lcs1956 said...

Philippe is correct. Standard Google which comes with any iPhone has had automatic 3D rendering of ALL shapes, buildings as well as foliage, for a while now.

reader Tony said...

Above capture is IPhone? Looks like Windows to me, judging by the chrome of maximize, minimize, restore buttons.

reader lcs1956 said...

The platform is irrelevant, the functionality is the same across all platforms.

reader Tony said...

Okay, I understood that in Pro version I may get something better than 3D gray blocks around the place where I live.

reader lcs1956 said...

Please read my post. Auto-generated 3D mesh buildings have been available since 2012 in Google Earth. The PRO version added features used by cartographers and media.

reader Tony said...

Okay, let me introduce a more precise terminology. There are several ways to render surfaces in 3D (or 2D for what matters):
1) wireframe
2) simple uniform shading of surfaces
3) texture mapping on surfaces
4) full 3D model

There is nothing specific in Pro version that automatically enables 3 or 4 is what I wanted to know?

reader lcs1956 said...

I think 3) is used based on stereo information obtained in aerial photographs:

But this is not specific to Pro. Google has been gradually replacing hand-rendered 3D models with this new technology for several years in the "free" Google Earth. But there has been a recent exponential increase in coverage.

reader John Archer said...

OT: (Very)

"Jihadi John family's 20 years on benefits: How it's cost taxpayers up to 400k to house fanatic and his relatives in upmarket areas".

The Reinhard Heydrich approach to diversity.