Adding media – images, audio, video, and more – to the markers you create for tours in Google Earth is not difficult but will require understanding a little HTML, the code behind web pages.
This page will give you the basics of adding audio, video or other materials. Using still images is covered in another tutorial. On both pages, you’ll find a little information about the copyright implications of using this material.
Always keep in mind that web-based tools are continually being developed to make it possible to reuse the content you create, and the Google Earth software is always improving, so there will always be new options.
In general, Google Earth supports audio in the mp3 format, and video in the Flash format. I have read of techniques people have created to push the software into working with others but for now, we’re going to stick with the basics.
The easiest way to include audio files in a Google Earth marker is to upload the file to an audio sharing site and use the embed code provided by them.
Some examples of audio sharing services are:
Audioboo – This free service allows you to upload short audio files as well as record them directly through their web site or apps for most major portable devices. With the free account your audio files can be up to 3 minutes long but you can store an unlimited number of them.
Vocaroo – This free service is even simpler than Audioboo. Just click the button and record your voice, no account required. When you click Stop, the page gives you two options, email the file or get the direct link and embed code. You want the embed code. Make sure you get this information immediately since there is no way to find it after you close the page.
Voki – This service offers you a large selection of animated characters to speak the words you record at their site. Or you can just type what you want the character to say and use their voice. Although you can’t upload audio files to Voki, they do provide an embed code for you to use in your Earth marker.
Voice Thread – Not strictly a file sharing service, Voice Thread does allow you to embed projects created at their site in your Google Earth markers.
Soundboard – A little more involved than the others, this site makes it easier to group collections of sounds into an album which they call a soundboard. While the service is oriented towards people who want to sell their sounds, it still can be used for embedding audio in Google Earth and web sites.
Once you have your audio uploaded, find the embed code on the page, copy it, and paste it into the Description box of your marker.
The result will be unique to each site but this is how the code from Audioboo will appear to your users:
As with audio, the easiest way to add video to a Google Earth marker is to use the embed code provided at most video sharing sites.
Some examples of video sharing sites:
YouTube – The granddaddy of them all. In fact, before creating your own video about a particular location, search here to see if someone has already posted what you need. Remember, however, if the YouTube site is blocked at your school, your videos in Google Earth may not work.
Vimeo – Offering great quality audio and video, the Vimeo site isn’t as raucous as YouTube can sometimes seem and customer service is much better. They also have an ad-free paid service which is $60 per year.
SchoolTube, TeacherTube – Two variations on video sharing designed for educators. SchoolTube is currently the better choice of the two with a cleaner interface and fewer ads. Both offer the option to create your own channel.
XtraNormal – Not strictly a video sharing site, this service allows you to create animated movies by typing a script and having their built-in voice read it while the characters move. The site provides an embed code for your movies and those shared by others.
Once you have your video uploaded, or located the one you want to use, find the embed code on the page, copy it, and paste it into the Description box of your marker. Not all videos will have an embed code. It depends on whether the owner has decided to offer this option.
The result will be unique to each site but this is how a video from YouTube will appear to your users:
Incidentally, YouTube has options for various sizes of video, as do some of the other sharing sites. Choose one with the width no more than 500 pixels.
Generally, you don’t need to worry about copyright when you link directly to images or other media that are posted on the web for your Google Earth projects.
However, since nothing about copyright law is that cut and dried, there are a few details you need to be aware of and follow.
- The source of all outside media should be cited using a link back to the page on which the image appears. It’s a good idea to cite all sources in any project, anyway and a link is that citation as well as your acknowledgement that the image is owned by someone else.
- Your Google Earth project can be redistributed but cannot be sold or included with any profit-making activity without permission of the copyright owner.
- It’s always best practice to look for material that is distributed under a Creative Commons license, which explains exactly what the owner is giving you permission to do with their work.
- And finally, remember I am not a lawyer. While linking to web-based media for educational purposes is clearly covered under the fair use provisions of US copyright law, and you will likely prevail in court, there are companies out there with more money for legal bills than you. Tread lightly around anything Disney.