In today’s tutorial I’m going to give you a step-by-step breakdown of how to create a cool map animation using Google Earth Studio and Adobe After Effects. By the end of this tutorial you’ll know how to composite 3D text elements into your Google Earth animations.
To follow along, here’s what you’ll need -
Google Earth Studio
Adobe After Effects
I’d love to see what you create so be sure to share your animations with me!
Tag me @boonelovesvideo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
*This video was sponsored by Skillshare! The first 1,000 people to use this link will get a 1 month free trial of Skillshare: https://skl.sh/boonelovesvideo01211
Step 1 - Animate Your Map in Google Earth Studio
For the first step, head over to Google Earth Studio. If this is your first time using the program you’ll need to request access, which generally takes about a day to process.
To get up and running quickly, use one of the Quick Start projects. Simply click on the arrow next to the Blank Project button and select Quick Start, where you’ll find five different template projects. Select one and follow the wizard to get your animation nice and animated.
I’m going with the Orbit template project, and my location is Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps. Be sure to pick your own favorite monument, building, mountain or wherever else you want when following along! You can customize a number of parameters, including Radius, Altitude, Start Heading, and the length of the animation.
Once you’ve got all of the parameters honed in, press the Start button. Now your project is all setup. Now imagine creating all of those keyframes from scratch and trying to get them this smooth. That would take a while. Mine is even looping!
Step 2 - Add Track Points for Reference
This animation is almost ready for rendering, but I still need to add some track points. Track points will allow you to perfectly place composited motion graphic elements once inside of Adobe After Effects. Each track point will create a georeferenced Null Object in After Effects, allowing you to quickly link and position any motion graphics you desire.
I plan on placing a large text element directly over the mountaintop, so that’s where I need to put a point.
To add a new Track Point in Google Earth Studio, simply right-click anywhere on your map and select Set Track Point. For more precision, I like to use the Top viewport. Simply go to View > Multi-View > 2 Viewports and then change the second viewport to Top view. Adding a track point this way is more precise regarding altitude.
Now I can rename and double check the altitude of the point inside of the View > Track Points panel. To make the compositing workflow easier once inside of Adobe After Effects, I’ll right-click on the track point in the Track Points panel and select Set as Local Origin.
Step 3 - Render the Animation
With my track point added, my animation is now ready for export. For this step, click on the large red Render button in the top right of the interface.
You can export your animation as an image sequence or as an MP4 video clip. I’ll select Image Sequence, and choose a destination on my local drive. In the Advanced section I’ll switch the Coordinate Space to Local. If you don’t set a track point as your local origin, this step is impossible.
Again, Local coordinate space makes working with elements in Adobe After Effects much easier.
Press the Start button to Render all of the files.
Step 4 - Bring the Assets into Adobe After Effects
The cool thing about this workflow is that you don’t have to worry about importing assets or creating comps in Adobe After Effects. The script file from Google Earth Studio takes care of all that. Simply open up After Effects and go to File > Scripts > Run Script File. Navigate to your render and select the corresponding .jsx file.
The script will setup your entire scene, including creating a new comp, importing the image sequence as a clip, adding the track points as georeferenced Null objects, and even adding text elements to each null.
Very cool stuff.
Step 5 - Create Some Super Cool 3D Text
You’ll notice that the text isn’t looking so good, and needs some formatting. It’s way too big, and the rotation is off. First, I’ll scale the text down to 400, and then use the 3D widget to rotate and position the element. A rotation on the X axis of 90 degrees does the trick, and then I can move it a bit above the mountain peak.
The text is also quite flat and boring. To get some extrusion, I’ll go to Composition > Composition Settings > 3D Renderer and switch the 3D renderer to Cinema4D. Now I can increase the extrusion in the Geometry Settings of the text layer.
To show the extrusion, I’ll add an Ambient light as well as a Spot light to my scene. To easily reposition the spotlight, I’ll Shift + Pickwhip the spot to the text layer. This will snap it right to the text. Now I can use the 3D widget to reposition and rotate it so that it’s just above the text. To fine tune the look, I’ll play with the intensity of both lights.
If you want to spice things up even more, you can do some per character animations to bring the text in and out.
Step 6 - Render and Share!
You’re all done! Now render that bad boy out and don’t forget to share it with me @boonelovesvideo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.