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Applying Eye Shadow to Google Earth

London Eye Animation in Google EarthThis is an update for my London Eye, time animation,  adding an animated shadow.

SketchUp has an extremely useful built-in Heliodon,  simulating the precise location of the sun for any time of the year, and enabling shadow rendering. With a reasonably accurate model, it’s possible to get a good alignment match between SketchUp shadows and those in Google Earth’s imagery . 

London Eye in Google SketchUpWhat I’ve done here is use screenshots of my wheel’s SketchUp shadows to create a time series of ground overlays in Google Earth.  These move in step with the original animated 3d model of the London Eye .

The shadow images still need a bit of work (and possibly higher resolution) to make them blend in better with the rest of the ground photography. But I’ll leave that for another day…  in other words, I’m not completely sure how to do it at the moment 🙂

London Eye with shadows

(The viewing tips for the original animation apply to this one too.)

Here’s a basic outline of how I got the shadows from SketchUp into Google Earth:

  • Copied the model into 20 separate SketchUp layers, rotating the wheel by slightly different amounts in each layer.
  • Toggled on SketchUp shadow rendering, with the appropriate date and time setting – January 29, 11:30.
  • Switched to SketchUp’s overhead view.
  • Flipped between the layers taking screenshots of each.
  • I cropped the screenshots, and added alpha transparency in PS Pro.
  • Aligned a single one of these pictures in GE and created a Ground Overlay time series with the 20 pictures.
  • The original GE wheel shadow is Photoshopped out with a further image overlay.
  1. Morten
    June 9th, 2007 at 21:10 | #1

    I would hate to go on to this thing at that speed, so just to nit pick a bit… it takes about ½ hour to do one revolution.

  2. GregTSL
    June 9th, 2007 at 22:15 | #2

    Wow, excellent work!

  3. June 10th, 2007 at 13:24 | #3

    It’s really awesome, congratulations!
    I’ve just written about it in my blog for Spanish speaker users of Google Earth.

  4. Jono
    June 22nd, 2007 at 15:08 | #4

    Uh, you made a statement about higher resolutions? surely if u export an image from Sketchup instead of takinga screen shot you’ll get super res?

    i dunno hey, i export at 4000 pixels wide usually and that makes my images clearly then they are on screen in Skup!

    Good work.


  5. James
    June 23rd, 2007 at 14:09 | #5

    Thanks Jono,

    I missed that… IIRC Google SU5 didn’t have high resolution 2D export. Just assumed SU6 was similar.

    4000px ought to fix it 🙂

  6. August 5th, 2007 at 06:00 | #6

    Just caught up to reading back posts on the Sketchup blog…and I’m glad I did! This is truly amazing! Congratulations on such a magnificent creation and thanks from all of us who get to enjoy it! i’m thinking you’ve probably gotten some wheels turning over at Sketchup too..maybe in a future release we’ll see something to make time-series production easier!

  7. October 26th, 2007 at 12:07 | #7

    Amazing thing!

  8. Dave
    February 3rd, 2009 at 04:26 | #8

    Amazing. Congrats. Just one thing, how can I do to hide the Google Earth original london eye and replace it with this one without having to hide all of hte other buildings?

  9. James
    February 6th, 2009 at 02:26 | #9

    @Dave – Right click on the original London Eye -> hide building. Doesn’t switch it off permanently though, just your current session in GE.

  1. June 11th, 2007 at 12:12 | #1
  2. June 16th, 2007 at 07:01 | #2
  3. July 27th, 2007 at 23:51 | #3
  4. January 28th, 2008 at 01:46 | #4