Sunapee Lake Loop Google Earth Flyover

Watch the Video(wmv) – be patient, it takes a while to download

As suggested by Jon Udell the above is an “animated map flyover” for the Sunapee Lake bike loop he referenced here. This was put together with Google Earth Pro, using the Movie Maker add-on.

Basically, I recreated the route of Jon’s bike loop as a polygon in GE ProGoogle Earth Placemark and then set up the movie maker add-on to record the path with a frame rate of 30fps, at 640×480 pixels, with a viewpoint 1km from the route and a viewing angle of 55o (that’s a 35o dip from the horizontal for all of the structural geologists in the audience). The resulting movie is about 220M in WMV format and runs just under six minutes (for an average airspeed velocity of about 320mph) and is basically what Jon describes as a Mode 1 or simple flyover (based on a pre-encoded route – no interactive navigation). A smaller resolution or frame rate could obviously cut the file size (I have no idea what the screen resolution of the Sony PSP is), but it’s hard to justify shrinking the resolution after you’ve seen the full glory of a GE flyover on a bigger monitor. Certainly the movie maker add-on (which allows recording at frame rates of 10, 20, 25, 30, 50, or 60fps) is a big (though costly) improvement – much smoother than basic screen capture utilities (such as Camtasia) which only capture <5fps. Jon’s mode 2 navigation (interactive flight controls) would also be possible in GE Pro with the movie maker add-on, though the quality of the resulting movie might be reduced depending on how much data is locally cached/how fast new data is streamed across the ether – with the pre-encoded route each frame is rendered and captured at full detail before moving on to the subsequent frame.

By the way, my apologies to the non-Windows users out there. I tried to capture the flyover in GE Pro in AVI format first, but ended up with a corrupt file. I also tried to transcode the WMV to Flash, Quicktime, and AVI with Camtasia Studio, but the results were discouraging – the Flash transcoding crashed before completion, the Quicktime version is a bigger file, yet loses a lot of resolution (here’s the blip.tv Flash transcoding of my QT transcoding – smooth, but crappy resolution), and the AVI file is too huge to comtemplate putting on the web (just under 5G – though it looks great).

Virtually Visiting the Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center



Dinosaur Nat. Mon. Quarry, near Jensen, Utah, June 5, 2005

Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center

I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see John Stodder’s blog post about the abrupt closing of the Dinosaur National Monument’s Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center. Because FHSU’s Geology Field Camp visits Dinosaur NM each May/June for our first major mapping project I was aware that the quarry visitor center building was in deteriorating condition and was slated to be closed for repairs in the near future. In fact, based on what I had learned last year about the building I had been expecting it to be closed this year and was pleasantly surprised not only that it was open, but that they had recently repaved the roads in this section of the park – it’s always good to see federal dollars flowing to the long neglected infrastructure of the National Park System. I imagine it’ll probably be a while before they reopen the building, so until that time I hope you’ll enjoy the cubic QTVR of the interior of the quarry building above and the Virtual Field Trip to Dinosaur National MonumentGoogle Earth Placemark that I recently put together that incorporates it.

Virtual Globetrotters

Group Photo, Flatirons behind us

Greetings from the first annual Virtual Globes Scientific Users Conference in Boulder, COGoogle Earth Placemark. If you thought Google Earth was the only player in the game, guess again. On the conference’s first day (Monday) Tim Foresman went through a history of Virtual Globes and introduced us to the International Society for Digital Earth. Following this we were introduced to the wide variety of virtual globes tools. Included were:

Two big name players with upcoming virtual globe software are ESRI (ArcGIS Explorer coming by the end of July? – Bart Killpack presented) and Microsoft (introduced by Rob Fatland of Microsoft – formerly Vexcel). ESRI will clearly differentiate their tools by their ability to interface with and process GIS data. What exact form MS’s VG will take or when it will be released was off limits for discussion, but it seems fairly clear they are genuinely in the globe game (not just flat maps) so stay tuned. These players will merit close scrutiny when they do release. Finally, conference organizer Matt Nolan presented EarthSLOT, based on tools created by Skyline Software.

Today’s presentations were user-oriented (full agenda here). I presented on “Integrating QTVR panoramas into Google Earth” which was a mix of material from my GSA talk last fall and a new Virtual Field Trip to Dinosaur National MonumentGoogle Earth Placemark that I recently put together.

P.S. Howdy Alan!

Speaking of dead pets…



Dead Horse Point, Utah, June 1, 2006

Overhang at Dead Horse PointAlthough I haven’t got any good dead pet stories to swap (there were a few goldfish, but we weren’t really close) I did just stitch together a cubic QTVR panorama of Dead Horse Point, Utah (above) taken during this summer’s FHSU Geology Field Camp. I didn’t realize until after I’d shot it that the ledge I was standing on was actually overhanging the 500 foot cliff – thankfully I didn’t feel the need to get all the way out to the edge and peer over. Here’s a Google Earth placemarkGoogle Earth Placemark for the panorama. Even with the terrain quality maxed out in Google Earth 4 Beta the cliff doesn’t drop off anything near as vertically as it does in real life. Nevertheless, the high resolution satellite imagery is good enough to pick out the low stone wall that I hopped to take the panorama – cool!

Sternberg Museum Talk: Geology of the National Parks I: Igneous Rocks

Sternberg PteradonLast Friday I had the opportunity to present a talk at the Sternberg Museum on “The Geology of the National Parks” focusing on igneous rocks in a couple of the National Parks and Monuments along the Pacific Rim of the USA. Steaming VolcanoThe talk (podcast: 80 Mb mp3) was presented as a combination of PowerPoint (slides: 43 Mb ppt), Google Earth (placemarksGoogle Earth Placemark: requires GE), and a couple of QTVR panoramas (Alae Crater site and Pu’u O’o – Hawai’i Volcanoes NP; El Capitan Meadow and Washburn Point – Yosemite NP). It was a challenge juggling all that technology – particularly switching back and forth between mediums. In light of the pretty fast internet connection at the museum, I may well try to implement the whole “virtual field trip” on the web next time. I’m especially eager to test out HTML Slidy, the web-based PowerPoint killer that Jon Udell recently discovered. I’d try it now if I didn’t have so many more things to do to get ready for Field Camp…rocks and hammer

More Necking & Beer Goggling (with Google Earth Overlays)



Goosenecks of the San Juan River, June 11, 2005

Doc‘s been at it again! Posting more great air photos of the spectacular geology of the Colorado Plateau. This time he’s necking with the San Juan River.

Doc asks:

By the way, I’m wondering why Google Maps and Google Earth can’t be tied into Earth Observatory. The whole Goosenecks area (starting in the picture above and continuing west) is in low-res on Google Maps and Google Earth, yet Earth Observatory has this high-res photo.

Maybe some kind of mash-up, perhaps?

Of course, Google Earth allows you to make this sort of mash-up yourself by creating an image overlay. As easy as that is to do, if you’re working with images that were shot at any sort of an oblique angle (rather than orthophotos – shot directly overhead) you’ll quickly find that it’s impossible to get every feature to register (line up properly) if you’re working in an area with any significant topographic relief. To illustrate this, check out the Google Earth placemark/overlays of the Goosenecks regionGoogle Earth Placemark that I made with the high res image Doc references. Because the high res image is not exactly orthogonal, I was unable to make it register perfectly, so I made two overlays – one that attempts to register the river (more satisfying when using the tilt function in Google Earth) and one the attempts to register the plateau (more satisfying for overhead satellite/map views where the roads register better). I threw in the placemark for the Goosenecks cubic QTVR above, for good measure.

Makes you really appreciate the spectacular job the Google Earth folks did to get the high resolution imagery to register properly in the Grand CanyonGoogle Earth Placemark.

Wet Mittens



Monument Valley, Thunderstorm, June 11, 2005

(Note the cars for scale – no, they’re not Matchboxes!)

Gosh, Doc! How am I supposed to write my final exams when you start posting great geology air photos in the midst of my procrastination!?!

Lou Maher’s “Geology by Lightplane” airphotos are indeed a great find. Bet you didn’t know that I TAed Intro Geology for Lou my very first semester as a grad student at UW-Madison. In fact, just before I graduated I scanned a whole big batch of his slides (though I don’t think my scans are the ones that made it to his website). Small world…

I don’t think there are any “official” names for the particular canyons you asked about – at least, none that I find on the USGS topo map of the area. I don’t know the geology of The Ramp area from personal experience and I haven’t got a detailed geologic map of the area, but the best I can tell your “cookie dough” unit (gotta love those edible geology analogies!) is probably one of the big sandstone units in the Cutler Formation – quite possibly the same Canyon De Chelley sandstone that makes up the vertical cliffs of the Mittens and Merrick Butte in Monument Valley. I think the Shinarump is the lighter colored (and thinner) sandstone unit that makes up the narrow cap of The Ramp. In any case, your photos of The Ramp and its neighbors are spectacular examples of hogbacks (also known as flatirons) formed by the weathering and erosion of a monocline.

Following my two week stint with FHSU’s Geology Field Camp last year I spent about a month travelling the west and shooting all the geology photos I could get, including the shot above at Lookout Point in Monument ValleyGoogle Earth Placemark. I’m still working on stitching a lot of them into QTVRs. I won’t be travelling as far this year since I’m gonna be doing the entire 4 weeks of Field Camp this summer, but I’ve got a brand new Canon Digital Rebel XT SLR and I’m itching to get out there and put it to good use. Field Camp departs on May 22 – I’ll do my best to blog from the field like I did last year.

Right back at you, Doc! ;-)