Playing with Google Earth Photo Overlays

7:32 pm PHT

I’ve been playing around with creating PhotoOverlays in Google Earth, and I must say, making them is hard. PhotoOverlays are a new feature in Google Earth 4.2 wherein you can place photos in 3D space such that it lines up with the underlying view in Google Earth. Note that this is different from an Image Overlay feature wherein you take a graphic (like a map) and drape it over the terrain. Shown below is how a PhotoOverlay I created looks like floating in space.

 Screenshot of Google Earth showing a PhotoOverlay floating in space.

Anyway, it’s feels very fulfilling when you manage to line up the photo in Google Earth (it takes quite a lot of tweaking). You can see the fruits of my labor in the succeeding screenshots. I really suggest that you download the KML file of my Overlays so that you can fly around in Google Earth and see them for yourself. Double-click on each Overlay to “zoom” and “enter” the photo. Try sliding the opacity bar to compare each photo with the underlying Google image.

Among the three PhotoOverlays I made, the one shown below depicting the NAIA runway is the one I managed to line up the best. This is a photo I took aboard the SEAIR flight to Boracay last January.

 NAIA runway PhotoOverlay.

The Overlay shown below is a shot of the Ortigas Center and the Pasig and Marikina Rivers. This photo was taken by my highschool batchmate Ian.

 Ortigas Center, Pasig River, and Marikina River PhotoOverlay.

Below is the screenshot of the Intramuros PhotoOverlay. I forgot who took this picture but I grabbed it from the Skyscraper City forums a few years ago.

 Intramuros PhotoOverlay.

It’s interesting to note that if you zoom out high above Metro Manila in Google Earth, you can see that the Ortigas and the Intramuros Overlays line up perfectly with the runways of NAIA. It just proves that these aerial photos were taken from a plane (either taking off or landing).

For now, only aerial photos are the best ones to try creating PhotoOverlays of in the Philippines. Overlays of street-level photographs of buildings are possible (see this YouTube video for examples) but since there are no default 3D building models of the Philippines in Google Earth (yet), the results will be less than impressive.

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