How to Create a Cinematic Map Animation with Google Earth Studio & Adobe After Effects | Snehal Wagh | Skillshare

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How to Create a Cinematic Map Animation with Google Earth Studio & Adobe After Effects

teacher avatar Snehal Wagh, Video Editor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Orientation

    • 3. Quick Starts in Google Earth Studio

    • 4. Interface of Google Earth Studio

    • 5. Controlling the Camera

    • 6. Track Points in Google Earth Studio

    • 7. Text Animation in After Effects

    • 8. Creating Path Animation

    • 9. That’s a Wrap!

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About This Class

If you're interested in adding some depth to your documentaries or vlogs by creating engaging map animations, this class is for you! This is an all-inclusive class covering Adobe After Effects and Google Earth Studio, so you will be up and running to create map animations for your video. You'll learn all about navigating and using this software as we cover topics like

  • Research & creating the base map
  • Google Earth Studio Overview + Quick Starts
  • Keyframe animations in Google Earth Studio
  • Controlling Camera in Google Earth Studio
  • Exporting Google Earth Studio files
  • Importing Map into After Effects
  • Basics of After Effects
  • Trim Paths
  • Text Animation
  • 3D Tracking
  • Exporting a Video

And much, much more! 

This class is for anyone who wants to use map animations in their documentaries, real estate videos, commercials, or travel vlogs.

You do not need to have any previous experience with Google Earth Studio, After Effects, or any kind of animation. We will learn everything from the ground up. Once you've completed this class you'll be fully equipped to create basic map animations with ease.

Meet Your Teacher

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Snehal Wagh

Video Editor


My name is Snehal Wagh, I'm a Video Editor & Motion Graphics Designer residing in the capital city of India, Delhi! I have been in love with maps since I was a kid, so I started combining my skill and passion to create Map Animation.

I freelance for many brands in India (my clients include Wrangler, Tata Motors, Maharashtra Tourism & Mala's) and Iz & Johnny Harris's company Bright Trip. That video alone received more than 200k views on YouTube & warm comments from the audience.

My quest is to experiment and share what I learn to make it easy for you to create beautiful, engaging, and cinematic films.

Thank you for reading and see you in the class!

See full profile

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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] An animated map makes it easier to see how to get from point A to point B. These maps are primarily used as a state of art tool for geographic visualization. Viewers today expect stories to have these dynamic maps. If you are interested in adding some depth into your videos by creating map animations, then this is the class for you. Hi, my name is Snehal Wagh. I'm a professional video editor and motion graphics designer. I have commonly used map animations in client documentaries to have a wider view of surroundings, as well as to show the parts and destinations in my travel vlogs on YouTube. This class will cover the basics of Google Earth Studio and Adobe After Effects. At the end of this course, you will be up and running to create your own map animations. We will learn all about navigating and using this editing software as we cover topics like keyframe animations, controlling the camera, exporting the maps from Earth Studio and importing it into an After Effects composition, using track points for text animation, and finally, exporting your map animation to insert into your video or using it as stand-alone animation for portfolio. Google Earth Studio is a great tool to use in documentaries, news, travel vlogs, or for anyone who loves to use maps in their video. Once you have completed this class, you will be fully equipped to create basic map animations with ease. 2. Class Orientation: Hey, welcome aboard. I'm so happy to see you in the class. There are plenty of map animation tools out there, but most of them are too complicated or expensive. In this class, we are going to use Google Earth Studio, which is a browser-based animation tool. It's completely free. All it requires you to do is request access to use, which gets approved within 24 hours It will give us a lot of options for creating, customizing and exporting map animation. Earth Studio is easy to use if you don't have any animation experience yet, it doesn't matter. We're also going to use after effects to complement Earth Studio animations. You will be learning the absolute basics of it. So don't worry if you've never opened this program before as well. So what do you need to be able to complete this class? All you need is a decent internet connection, Chrome browser, and After Effects along with Media Encoder installed in your computer. Ideally, you should also have the loose idea of the place you want to create the map animation. Since we are creating point-to-point travel animation, I want my video to be traveling around Sydney. So I chose St. Mary's Cathedral to Sydney Opera house. We will create orbit around these two sites and path that connects to two, basically a guide on how to go from the Cathedral to the Opera house. You don't need to choose the same points as me because along the way we are going to learn a lot more about Google Earth Studio and After Effects. So feel free to experiment and create your own version of map animation. So grab your laptop when PC and let's get started. 3. Quick Starts in Google Earth Studio: [MUSIC] In this lesson you will learn how to quickly create a map animation in Google Earth Studio. Let's have a look at the interface. Here on the main page I can open an old project or I can create a new blank project. But if I click the drop-down menu, we will see a quickstart button, and this will give us access to a few animation presets which are quite easy to use. We have a couple of different options here. We have Zoom. Which will zoom in on a location from above. This will orbit around the police. This one will show one point to another point. This is good if you want to show the distance. We have spiral and also Fly-To and orbit which is basically zoom in plus orbit. I'm going to click on "Orbit" here. This is going to create a new project. Now it says where do you want to set your point of interest? I'm going to select the Sydney Opera House. I typed in the location and now it has an overhead view that looks like Google Maps. Let's click the next button here. We are able to see our timeline here and we can see our animation. We also have these four different options to change for example if I want to change this animation in the opposite direction I can have it go this way. I can also change the radius so I have a little space for the text animation and altitude. I'm going to leave the target altitude where it's at. Let's click "Next" and I would want it to be 15 seconds instead of 50 and it's going to do an entire orbit in 15 seconds and it will go all the way around and it will be looping as well. Once I click that it will bring us into the actual application interface which we are going to go into more depth in the next lesson. But for now if we play back this looks good. I also want to make point-to-point animation. I'm going to go to File, New and click on "Point-to-point" It will prompt us to save our last project. Let's name this Opera House. That is saved. We can move on. I want to my first point to be St.Mary's Cathedral, that's in Sydney. The second points will be the Opera House. Now, I will click "Next" and it's showing the route from cathedral to the Opera House. We will play it back again. That looks good. That is one thing left to do here which will make it easier for us to create path and after effects later and that is to create a flat frame of the map. To be able to do that I'm going to select these keyframes and move them a bit one-by-one. I can just hold and drag and move them ahead. After this is done I'll go to the start of the timeline and zoom out till I see both of the places. Here's the Opera House. We can see the whole path in the frame. I'm going to create a keyframe here and here. We have one second of flat frame which we will use as a guide later. What I want you to do right now is to create a prompt for yourself. It could be anything somewhere you have been to recently, a local attraction that you know of or a place that you have never visited. All I want you to do is get familiar with the quick start in Google Earth Studio. [MUSIC] 4. Interface of Google Earth Studio: [MUSIC] In the previous lesson, we created a Quick Start Animation. But in this lesson, we're going to start an animation from scratch so that I can give you an overview of the interface. I'm making a new project by going to file, new and creating a blank project. Let's see our last project, which will be cathedral to opera house, that saved. Here I can name my project and change the dimensions, the duration and frame rate. The dimensions here can go up to 4K, but we'll just put 1920 by 1080, that is full HD. We can see the frame rate goes from 24-60. I'm going to keep it at 24 frames. I have kept the time code as it is, that's 15 seconds, click "Start" and that's going to bring up our interface. Google has based the designer for art studio according to industry standard animation tools, it has key-frames on the timeline. This is our timeline. Over here to the left we have our attributes. We have attributes for camera positions such as longitude, latitude, and altitude. There are attributes for camera rotations such as pan and tilt. We're also able to add more attributes like camera target, and the field of view, time of day which is very cool. We can make it nighttime if we want. We can turn the clouds, ocean overlays, and 3D buildings on and off. We can also edit the camera roll. To make our animation we will add key-frames, then move the playhead to different spot in the timeline, change the same attribute at another key-frame, and now we have an animation. If you've ever worked in Google Earth, it's very much similar, you can grab the Earth and drag it around, we can zoom in with the mouse and scroll. On your right here, you can toggle different view-port options. If you go to this toolbox, you can see we have this different way to look at the interface which we can see in the camera moving as I change the view here. Here's a pro tip. At the top here if you go to view and turn on available 3D areas, you will see these yellow shapes. This way you'll be able to animate those orbits to the 3D places which would not be possible to do with flat 2D places. For example let's go to Taj Mahal which is one of the seven wonders of the world. Here's our search bar. We can type any location here and it will take us exactly there. I don't know why, but as you can see this is not a 3D area. No matter how much we tried to change the pan and tilt, it will always be flat. On the other hand, let's go to the area which is 3D. We'll go to Eiffel Tower. Here we are able to see the difference. This is possible because as we can see this is a 3D area. Now, I want you to learn a few keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier. The first one is Alt+C which will toggle the 3D layers on and off. You can see it up here as well. Let's clean our timeline first. I'll hold and drag over all of our key-frames and I'm going to hit "Delete". Now we have a clean timeline. Let's type in St. Mary's Cathedral. Now we're straight over the top of Cathedral. If we click and drag just as we did before, we can move the Earth around. If I want to pan tilt or orbit the camera, I'm going to hold the Alt or Option key first, and we are going to orbit the camera. Now this target comes up exactly where my cursor was. My camera point of view is basically going to orbit around that target. As I click and drag, we can see the 3D imagery. The next shortcut is when you hold the Control or Command key. It controls the camera rotation. We can do tilt and pan moves. This is a tilt and this is a pan. [MUSIC] These are the two main shortcuts that I want you to keep in mind because they are going to be huge help in the next lesson when we are going to learn how to control the camera, these two shortcuts are Alt plus click to orbit around and Control plus click to pan and tilt. [MUSIC] 5. Controlling the Camera: [MUSIC] In this lesson, we will get into an advanced technique that will let you have more control over how the camera moves. Animating the camera inside of the earth studio looks a bit tough, so I'm going to break down step-by-step how to do it smoothly. The first thing I'm doing here is to right-click directly on the "St. Mary's Cathedral" and select "Set Camera Target". Don't worry if the target is a little off because you can hold "Alt" and click on the target to move it around. I'm going to put it here precisely, and now my camera is going to auto-orient and stay focused on the cathedral, and you can see down here in attributes, it has locked my camera rotation parameters. The pan and the tilt are going to automatically adjust as I move around and animate, so I'm going to close this. We can see it also added this attribute called Camera Target. These are the same controls as the camera position. However, there is an influence here as well. It's a bit of an advanced feature we are not going to use this in this tutorial. The next thing we'll do is set up the viewport, so if your interface is looking a little bit different than mine, go to "View" and select "Multi-view" to "Viewports", and then set your viewport to the top. I can see my camera target here as well. We have a top view here and the knot is always up, so it's easy to stay oriented here. I can control my camera manually by grabbing it on this red shape, and now you can see that as I move this around, it's actually quite easy to now look at all of these different angles of the cathedral. What I'm aiming to get in this shot is that I should have this top-down view of the cathedral then the camera orbits around it halfway and ends up in front of this shot, where I can also see the opera house in the background. Let's key-frame the first shot. I'm going to zoom out to where this will give me a little bit of extra space. The shortcuts are going to come in handy here. I'm using, "Alt" plus click for camera rotation and "Control", plus click to pan and tilt to get the shot I want. We can also adjust the altitude here, so if you want to make big adjustments, hold "Shift" and it's going to move fast, and if you want to make fine-tune adjustment hold "Control" and then it'll go slow. Or you can also manually type in the altitude that you want. One One thing that I do is turn off the fall of camera. It lets me see the camera target instead of my camera. To create the key frames on the timeline, I'm going to take the play head to the beginning with my camera in its first position, and I'm going to add a key frame to the camera position. Then I'm going to go to the three-second mark, and I will bring the camera over here to the front and add another key frame, and let's take a look. I'm going to select all of my key frame and right-click to add auto ease that will make the camera movement smoother. Now, in my top view board, you can see the motion path and these two key frames points. This is our start position and that's the end position, and you can see it's auto-orienting to the camera target. You can also see these little dots here that are your speed reference. We can also create different looks here for example, I don't want this to be a straight line. I want the camera to half orbits so that I can grab this point and hold "Alt" or "Control", and then click and drag. It will give us these handles. Because of this, we can curve the spot and this looks quite cinematic. [MUSIC] Go ahead and play with the camera angles and you can do half orbits and half spirals and make your map animation customized and cinematic. I'll see you in the next lesson where we will take this animation imported into after effects so that we can add paths and texts. [MUSIC] 6. Track Points in Google Earth Studio: [MUSIC] In this lesson, we will learn how to use the map animations that we made in the previous lessons and compensate them into After Effects and add some texts and elements like part. Since we're compositing motion graphic elements inside After Effects, we need to add track points inside of Google Ads Studio because if we render this as it is right now, it will be a flat plane, so we will not be able to use the 3D elements here. We can add a track point by right-clicking on the map here. It says to set a track point, you can do that but it will not be as precise as using the viewport. I'm going to zoom in here and click on the Set Track Point. We can click here to rename it. I'm also going to click this menu button and select Set as local origin. There are two different ways that you can control the coordinate system, where your anchor point and your positioning defaults to global. The origin point of the Global is the center of the Earth. When you move objects around on the surface of the Earth, your positioning parameters are high and it's hard to work with motion graphic elements. So if you switch that to local coordinate system, you can specify the origin point to a track point. Now my origin point is going to be at the top of my destination. When we move the elements in after-effects, they are going to be scalable. One more thing I want you to keep in mind before exporting is make sure your map style is set to clean. You can do it by going to View map style and clicking on Clean. The other two options will show parts and names like it does on Google Maps. We won't need that because we are going to create our own text animation for this. Moment of truth, let's append these map animations that we made. Click on the Render button and I will rename it to Sydney Opera House. We have options to render this as JPEG image sequence or a video. We need it in image sequence, so we can also change the parameters here. Let's specify a destination and we need to give them permission to access the local drive. Then down here in advance, this is where you specify the coordinate space. Again, it defaults to global, which we will switch to local. If I didn't have that track points set as the local origin, it wouldn't have Let me choose the coordinate space. You also need to attribute Google ads since it's a free software. What I usually do is set these both to zero so that it doesn't come in between my animation, but it still attributes to Google Earth. Now it's rendering it and there is a thing about this way of rendering, is if you switch the tabs, it pauses that render using other graphic intensive applications, or changing tabs in chrome while rendering can cause faulty renders. It automatically pauses it so you can click on Continue. We will render the remaining maps in a similar way. To go to another project, I will click on the File, Open Recent, and click on Cathedral. I felt the three-second animation was too short so here I clicked and dragged over all of the last keyframes and made the animation longer up to five seconds I will just do a little bit of tweaking here and set tract points that has local origin and that is ready to render. Since we don't have a specific target for point-to-point animation, I'm going to choose the middle of the path, that's the road, I'll set a Track point and rename it to middle and render this last project. [MUSIC] Now that the Google Earth animation has been gendered, it's time to get into the next part of this class, and that is to animate our maps. In the next lesson, we will learn how to create text over our map animations. So open up your After Effects and let's get started. [MUSIC] 7. Text Animation in After Effects: [MUSIC] At start, the After Effects looks a little intimidating because it does not look like the other video editing software. Although it will get easier once you get familiar with this program and use it frequently, I'm only going to be scratching the surface of this program because it goes way more in depth with compositing. The next step is to import this maps into After Effects, it's quite easy. All you need to do is run the script file that is included with the export. Let's go to find script, Run Script File, and then navigate to where you exported the files, and you'll be able to see a.jsx script file. Click on that. The script did everything for us. You can see there is this composition with all the assets. It imported the image sequence as a clip and then it created this null object from a tech point. It even added this text layer which is attached to the null object. Now all we need to do is reformat this text, because it's flat on the surface. However, the camera is matching the movement of the original animation. Now, if we create any motion graphics and attach them to those track points or the null objects, it's going to automatically give you the illusion that we have a 3D element in our map. Let's format our text layer. Click on our text and hit ''S'' on the keyboard to see scale. We can see that this is too large, so let's bring it down. We can see this 3D widget over text, which we are going to use to move it according to how we want the text to look. If you replayed this, it's actually looking like the text is a 3D object hovering over the cathedral. I'm going to the character properties in our sidebar here so that I can change the color of our text. I'm also going to change the text because this is just cathedral, but I want it to say St. Mary's Cathedral and I will also make it all capital. I'm going to give it some finishing touch. I'm also going to do the same text standard deviation with our Opera House map. This will create a new comp. I'm just going to fast-forward the animation part. You can follow the same steps as we did with the cathedral. Although here I'm adding one more thing as it's a complete spiral, I want the text to rotate with the camera. So I will hit ''R'' on the keyboard to set the rotation, create a keyframe at the start and go to the last frame. Align the text where I want it. I will create one more keyframe at the start, because I just realized I put the first keyframe in the middle. Our text is rotating with the camera. Now that we're done with the start and the end of our animation, all we need to do is create the path between that. Let's learn that in the next lesson. [MUSIC] 8. Creating Path Animation: Before we move on to create the point-to-point animation, I will make sure my project is saved. To do that, let's go to File, Save and choose the drive. I will name this Map Project and click on "Save". The keyboard shortcut to save your file is Control S. To create the path animation, let's export a point-to-point Earth Studio file once again into after effects by going to File, Scripts, Run Script File and importing the.JSX file. Right here we don't need any text layer, so I'm going to go ahead and delete all the text layers. Now what I'm going to do is create a shape layer for our path. I'm going to select a rectangle, change the fill color to blue, and drag to cover the entire screen. Then I'm going to switch it into a 3D by clicking this box in front of the shape layer and selecting the middle as a parent object. Let's also set the position to 0, 0, 0 and orientation to 0, 0, 0 as well. Now that our rectangle has become smaller, I'm going to drag it over the whole frame. I'm also going to turn our composition to fit the frame by clicking here and selecting Fit. Let's hide the rectangle and we're going to draw our path on this same layer. We have got to make sure that this shape layer is selected. Click on the "Pen Tool", and then we're going to set our Fill to transparent. Using this pen tool, we will draw a path from the Cathedral to the Opera House. I'm going to follow the road here and we can make adjustments as we go. Just getting it relatively close is important, but it doesn't have to be exact. You can fit the frame to 100% so you will be able to see the road better. That is another shortcut that is to hold space to move the timeline with the help of cursor. Once we're done with this, open the properties for Shape 1, which is the path we made just now, I'm setting the stroke width to four Line Cap to Round Cap and lines joined to Bevel Join. Since we have created our text in white, I'm going to keep the color of the path white as well. We will also unhide the shape layer. We're now going to add the trim paths so we will make sure the shape layer is selected. Select, Add, and then Trim Paths. This will allow us to reveal the path as the animation progresses. We will go to our starting frame and open the Trim Path option. I'll click on the stopwatch at the End and set that to 0 as a starting point. I'm moving the playhead about a second and adjusting the end values so that we can see the path within the frame. That will set a keyframe automatically. Then advance a little bit further. We will do this through the animation by advancing a few seconds at a time and making adjustment to the end value. It will give us a little bit of control over what is in the frame and what we want to display. This is what it looks like with the trim path. I don't want this to be just one line. I would rather prefer if it looked like how it looks on the Google map when you search for a walking path, a leading line of dots, which is also moving. Yes, there is a way of doing it in after-effects itself. In the properties of our shape, we can see there's this option called Dashes. If I click on the plus button here, we will get these two options. One is Dash and another is Offset. If I click on the plus one more time, I will also get the option called Gap. You can play with this however you like. This option will help you get the right amount of Dashes and Gaps that you want. As I told you, I want it to look like the Google Maps walking paths. I'm going to try and make it look as close as possible. Now, this is actually looking a bit robotic. I'm going to go to the first frame of our animation and create a keyframe, and then go to the end of the animation and move my offset a little bit. This is actually looking like it's going backwards instead of forward. I will set my first frame to 100 and last frame to 0. This is looking so much better already. Let's save that. There's a reason why I'm using the same object for all three of our map animations so that we could join them together and export. To do that, I'm going to create a new composition by going to Composition, New Composition, which will open up this new window to set up our Comp. I'm renaming it Final Cathedral to Opera House Route, keeping resolution at 1920 by 1080 HD, but changing the Frame Rate to 24 frames per second, since we exported our Earth Studio animations in 24 frames per seconds as well. The duration will be 30 seconds. Click "Okay", and let's drag all of our map comps into the final comp. Our first comp was Cathedral. I'll let this be, I'm going to trim the end of this a little bit. I'm going to drag our path animation comp ahead in the timeline right after the cathedral one. Hold "Shift" to snap it right after. I'm also going to clean the starting part where we just use the flat plane so that we could create our path. Hold "Shift" to snap it right after. The last one is Opera House. I'll do the same with this one. Hold "Shift" to snap. Let's watch it run from the beginning. That looks pretty good. I'm just going to do a little bit of tweaking to be able to share this on social media or watch it in the normal player, we will need to export it from After Effects. Let's do that. We'll go to File, Export, and click on Add to Media Encoder Queue. Once the media encoder opens, you will have more settings like changing the preset and the destination for tender. Here, I'm keeping the format Match Source has bitrate but changing the destination to Desktop, I should be able to find this file later when I want to share it with my friends. Now, I'll click on this blue button on top right side, and this will take a few minutes. This is how it looks at the end there. [MUSIC] 9. That’s a Wrap!: [MUSIC] You are at the end of the class, and if you have been following, and creating the animation with me, you might already have your own map animation. Do not forget to post it in the project, I would love to see what you've made, and it will be an inspiration to the people who are enrolling in this class. I'm going to make more classes like this in the future, so make sure you take out my Skillshare profile, and follow me on YouTube and Instagram for more behind the scenes, and updates. It was a whirlwind of a journey with you, we learned Google Earth Studio from scratch from quick starts to drag points. We then imported those maps into After Effects and added elements to make them more informative. In the end, we got our final product, a beautiful cinematic map animation. I have added PDF full of keyboard shortcuts, After Effects elements, and RStudio document in the resources section. Take this with you and make more amazing map animation. All the best and I'll see you in another class soon.