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Create Google Earth Movies for your Listings - Part 1

All of us have seen Google earth video clips on TV news shows where the view zooms in to a building or a city from a high altitude (even outer space). Ever think how cool it would be to do the same thing for your real estate listing? Well, not only is it possible but it's actually not that hard! I'll step you through what you need and the steps to make it happen. Best of all, it's free! That's not always been the case. In the past, Google has charged $399 a year for the privilege of using the Pro version but in January 2015 Google announced it was offering it for free.

First step is to download Google Earth Pro. Be sure to install the Pro version because the tools we use to create the zoom movies are not in the regular Google Earth version.

  1. Go to this page:

If you've got 30 minutes to kill, you can read the page and the four documents of legalese otherwise just click on the Agree and Download button.

  1. Once the download finishes, open the file (GoogleEarthProSetup.exe) to install Google Earth Pro.

  2. Sign in with your email address and this license key: GEPFREE.

  3. Once you've registered the software, you can use your Google account to sign in.

Open Google Earth Pro and sign in. You should see this screen:

If you don't see the sidebar, from the menu at the top, click View and select Sidebar. Let's talk about navigation first. If you don't see the navigation controls in the upper right hand corner, move your mouse pointer over that area and it will magically appear. I won't reinvent the wheel on explaining all the navigation controls. Google has a good explanation of all the controls here:

I will go over a few things that you'll need to know before we create your first movie.

To make things look their best, set these options:

Tools > Options – 3D View: Under Terrain check Use high quality terrain and Use 3D Imagery

Under Layers these options should normally be checked: Places, Roads, 3D Buildings, Ocean.

1. Zoom slider – at each end of the slider you'll see a + at the top and a – at the bottom. If you click on the +, it will zoom in a little and stop. If you click the – at the bottom, it zooms out a little and stops. If you click and hold the +, it will do a continuous zoom in until you release. Same thing for the – and zooming out. Click and hold on the slider control then slowly move up or down until the view starts zooming. This gives you a slow zoom.

2. Click and drag the view screen in the direction you want to view. Or you can use the first circle above the zoom slider to move around. It's the one with the hand symbol in the center. Click outer edge of the circle to go in that direction. You don't have to click on one of the four arrows, just anywhere on the outer edge.

3. That leaves the top circle. The one with the eye symbol. This is the look around control and it has three functions. Clicking on the top or bottom edge where the pointers are located controls the angle that you are looking. Click the bottom edge and it's like looking down. You can hold it down and it will continue tracking down until it reaches straight down like you were in a plane looking down at the ground. Clicking the top edge brings the angle up. Hold it down and it will continue tracking until it reaches straight up. That leaves the left and right edges. These edges control turning right and left. Click on the right edge and hold it down. The view is now turning clockwise until you release it. Notice there is an outer ring. Click and drag around the outer ring to fly in a circle around a center point. Once you've clicked on the outer ring, you can move the mouse pointer further out away from the ring to make it travel slower. It takes practice to make a smooth transition.

  • Another way to fly around a point is to use your mouse scroll wheel. Position the mouse pointer over the point you wish to circle and click-hold the scroll wheel. You'll see a bulls-eye symbol appear. That's the center point that you will fly around. Now slowly move your mouse horizontally across the screen.

Now that you know a little about the navigation controls, let's play!

  • Open Google Earth Pro and sign in.

  • Enter your address in the Search box - you'll see a red pin marking the location in the view screen and another red pin under the Search box. It will automatically zoom in to that location.

  • Use the navigation controls to zoom out into space until you see the whole world.

  • Now zoom in. You'll notice that you probably didn't zoom in to the exact location.

  • Now zoom out to space again.

  • This time click on the red pin. You can either click on the red pin located in the view screen or the red pin under the Search box. When you click it, it will automatically zoom in directly to the location.

  • Use the navigation control with the hand symbol to move around. You can also click and drag the view screen to move around. Give it a try!

  • Use the navigation control with the eye symbol to look up and down. Also use it to look right and left.

  • If your mouse has a scroll wheel, use it to fly around your location. Click and hold the scroll wheel while moving your mouse left/right/up/down.

In my next post, I'll give you the steps you need to actually create your first Google Earth movie.

If you'd like more information about Google Earth Pro, here's a link to the user manual:

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