Google have done a great job in mapping the world, what with Google Maps, Google Street View, Google Latitude and of course Google Earth is a great tool to install and play with, there’s even a Google Earth iPhone app! That kind of flattery would not be coming out of the Multimap PR department, but as the years have gone by since Google originally released those services, they’ve had scores of improvements made to them that have continued to improve it and move them further ahead of the rest of the market.
Well now there’s another addition, and one that will not only improve Google Earth but will give you something to do when you’re bored and looking for a bit of fun — and even better it’s actually (if you’ll excuse the pun) constructive. And if you hadn’t already guessed from the title it’s called Google Building Maker, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
You know the 3D buildings you get in major cities on Google Earth? If you don’t you should go and have a look as they add the third dimension to an otherwise flat map, and not only add interest to a to the map but also allow you to get a basic feel of the city.
Well obviously it’s an impossible (or at least painfully lengthy) task for the Google team to go around adding 3D capabilities to all of the buildings on the globe so they’ve created a tool that will allow you to help out by building the buildings for them.
Ok I’ll admit the premise of the tool doesn’t sound all that great (correction, it sounds boring and lazy on the part of Google) but hear me out when I say that it is surprisingly addictive, and that you could easily end up spending hours creating these 3D cities.
So how does it work? Well as the instructional video simply puts it there are four steps to making the buildings. Firstly you choose a location which involves choosing one of the 50 cities available (unfortunately only two from the UK are available — Cardiff and Birmingham) and choose a specific building from within the extensive boundaries set.
You’re then ready to go, and you actually build the building by positioning 3D shapes over the 6 pictures available (to ensure accuracy) to replicate the shape of the real life building — you can go into as much detail as you want/can, and you can preview your work of art as you go.
When you’ve finished you can then save your model to the ‘Google 3D Warehouse’ form which it will then be reviewed and, if it’s good enough, will be accepted and put onto Google Earth. You can then keep track of all of the models/buildings you’ve made and can go back and admire or edit them whenever you like.
Simple as it sounds it is in fact very rewarding, and the ease of use means you can knock up about 10 in an hour when you get the hang of it — and if you laugh at the idea of spending an hour on it I only planned to test it out on one building and ended up doing about six, and I will go back to do more.
Perhaps one of the best things is being able to build up your own little area with buildings that just you’ve made (although of course you could do with friends as well) and then expanding your little empire; this is especially good if it’s actually where you live! Unfortunately I am not lucky enough to live in either Birmingham or Cardiff, but hopefully they will be bringing this out over more of the cities in the UK in the near future!
So go and check out the video, have a play with Google Earth Building Maker to see for yourself and then let us know what you think in the comments section below!