Google Earth Studio Could Replace Aerial Drone Video (Sort of)

If you follow us on social media, you would have seen that we got quite excited about a new Google Earth enabled tool called Google Earth Studio.

Well, now we have got our hands on it. And it is every bit as good as we expected it to be.

If you have ever used Google Earth you will know that it’s basically a high definition, photographed version of Google Maps.

The studio tool allows you to animate around the 3D satellite photography to create realistic flyover shots which, once upon a time, would only have been possible with a drone or helicopter.

Here’s an example of a quick animation that we made using the new Google Earth Studio tool:

As a full-service video production agency, we often employ professional drone operators to capture aerial footage of client sites and the surrounding scenery.

We really like these shots because they give viewers a sense of context mixed in with drama. For example, we’ve used it to great effect to give an overview of a large stone quarry:

The problem is always, however, that because it involves using specialist equipment and a pilot, drone video can be very expensive to capture. Which is why Google Earth Studio is very welcome for businesses looking for a budget option.

There are, of course, some limitations to the uses of this new tool.

Perhaps the most obvious of these is that the images Google uses to generate its Earth textures are not the most up to date.

Some buildings will be missing from the satellite pictures, so if your aim is to chart the progress of a new city skyscraper, then you probably won’t have much luck.

Another, not so much limitation, but a caveat, is that of usage rights. The material is free to use for research and educational purposes but might require licensing for commercial uses.

Google’s guidelines on this a bit hazy—particularly as there is no category for corporate videos.

Regardless of the end use, the footage must be attributed to Google. By default, the Earth Studio software exports your animation with the Google name watermarked in the lower right corner of the clip.

You might not want to paste the Google brand all over your video – but as long as you are not producing a very high-end promotional trailer or video, this might be a small price to pay to get access to Google’s global imagery.

This new software won’t put drone operators out of business any time soon, but it does open up a new set of possibilities for clients without the budget for bespoke aerial photography.

It is also great for editors that want to use quick cutaway shots of particular cityscapes that would otherwise have to be filmed or purchased from a stock library.

Whatever the purpose, we’ll definitely be looking for a way to plug in some high-quality aerial footage to our projects.